July 24, 2006

At-Risk Students Can Excel Through Service-Learning

Working with "at-risk" students to engage and excel in positive activities is one of many challenges of today's educational landscape. While most educators do not use the term "at-risk," it is used to describe one who is in danger of failing to complete his or her education with an adequate level of skills. Risk factors include low achievement, retention in grade, behavior problems, poor attendance, low socioeconomic status, and attendance at schools with large numbers of poor students (Slavin, 1989). "At-risk" students are commonly misunderstood and, unfortunately at times, overlooked because traditional schooling and policies are not able to provide the needed support and alternative methods of learning.

Service-learning has been shown to offer opportunities for at-risk students. Students who participate develop leadership skills, a sense of social responsibility, and increased interest and engagement in school activities.

Youth Service America, with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, has just announced the YouthRising grant program. The grant will support projects that engage high-risk and/or gang-involved youth (ages 12-25) in service to their communities. Projects should be co-led by youth and adult allies such as parents, counselors, coaches, teachers, youth leaders, etc. A significant portion of the project must take place on National and Global Youth Service Day, April 20-22, 2007.
Deadline is 5pm EST on October 12, 2006.

The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse offers a comprehensive list of resources, research, and exemplary programs linking at-risk students and service-learning.

- Susan, National Service-Learning Partnership

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