Excerpts from

American Youth Policy Forum & Service Learning

Creating a new kind of Citizen for the 21st Century



See also Global service & Service Learning

American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF): "To improve opportunities, services, and life prospects for youth, we provide learning experiences for national, state, and local policymakers and practitioners. ...Located in Washington, DC, AYPF provides policymakers and their senior aides with information and experiences useful in the development of an effective youth education, training and transition-to-employment system for the United States (including formal and informal learning opportunities, internships, national community service, and other experience-based learning methodologies). ....Our aim is to develop better communication, greater understanding, enhanced trust and, ultimately, a climate in which constructive action can be taken that strengthens national, state and local leadership in the education, career preparation and youth."

Service-Learning and Citizenship: "This area focuses on policies, methodology and programs that feature service-learning, and national and community service. Service-learning is a teaching methodology used in schools, juvenile justice programs like Youth Court, and community-based organizations to apply academic skills to solving real world problems. Service-learning is used in Learn and Serve America and can incorporate project-based learning, applied learning, contextual-based learning, and frequently involves civic engagement, character education, and tutor/mentoring. Individuals involved in national and community service volunteer their time to assist schools and communities. Programs include VISTA, AmeriCorps, Freedom Corps, Senior Corps, City Year, America's Promise, and many others.


Proposition 1: Civic education-including character education and service-learning-is necessary to the survival of our democracy. We must change the context in which we view the mission of our schools; their lost purpose, which must be regained, is “to make citizens.”

Proposition 2: The overriding question driving education reform must be: “What kind of child (person, human being) do we want to produce? The answer we offer is: “A child who can take charge of his/her learning process so as to:

(a) learn for a lifetime,

(b) make a net contribution to the society, workforce/economy, and culture, and

(c) be civically engaged as a citizen and decision maker.”

Proposition 3: The national education policy preoccupation with reading, mathematics, and science as the “core disciplines” of public education is myopic and lop-sided. It is not delivering the outcomes the nation requires. The importance of placing civic education on a par with core subjects cannot be overstated.

Proposition 4: We need a new reform strategy that balances two paramount goals:

(1) higher levels of academic achievement in core academic disciplines, with

(2) school and community efforts aimed at producing informed, principled, and engaged citizens.

Proposition 5: Service-learning, character education, and civic education demonstrate an encouraging and impressive success in improving student engagement in school and community life, and in bolstering academic performance.

Proposition 6: A linked approach bringing together civic education, character education, and service-learning must be guided by the following precepts. These linked approaches:

  • Must be of high quality if they are to succeed and should proceed with an eye to changing school culture. Accountability for quality and content, therefore, is paramount;
  • Must be directed by a state policy that is reflected in local policy and action;
  • Must be student-focused, democratic in nature, and unaffected by partisan politics;
  • Must be infused throughout the whole curriculum, not taught separately, i.e., they should contain a reflection component, use interdisciplinary instructional methods, and be continually fed by contextual learning;
  • Must be directed by a philosophy/policy committed to experiential learning;
  • Must be outcomes-based, with outcomes being measured by behavioral change in students, by positive changes in student engagement, and visible changes effected in community settings;
  • Must be accompanied by a focused communications and PR effort to build and sustain public support;
  • Must be focused on developing needed civic skills, e.g., critical thinking, flexible thinking, problem-posing, and problem-solving; Can and should be used as a vehicle for meeting curriculum standards across the board; and
  • Must use the school building as the unit of educational reform.

Proposition 7: Success in these approaches will be grounded in a “coalition mentality” that links schools, community organizations, local government, and the business and nonprofit sectors. /American Youth Policy Forum, April 2004. This is a working document for comment. http://www.edaction.org/2004/051204b.HTML

See also Global service & Service Learning