National Service Briefing

YSA Logo 

September 22, 2011 

Volume 18, No. 38    

Circulation: 39,950

UnitedHealth  HEROES  GRants Support  Youth  Addressing Childhood  Obesity  Through Service-Learning

The UnitedHealth HEROES program is a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealthcare and YSA (Youth Service America). The program awards grants to help youth, ages 5-25, create and implement local, hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity.

Each grant engages participating youth in service-learning, an effective teaching and learning strategy that supports student learning, academic achievement, and workplace readiness. The grants encourage semester-long projects that launch on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (January 16, 2012) and culminate on Global Youth Service Day (April 20-22, 2012).

Schools, service-learning coordinators, after-school programs, non-profits, and students in the health professions located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply for the $500-$1,000 grants.
Applications must be submitted online before midnight October 17, 2011.  To obtain an application, visit

Download "First Responders: Youth Addressing Childhood Obesity Through Service-Learning," a step-by-step guide to help youth, parents, teachers, and other volunteers deploy YSA service-learning models to fight childhood obesity in their communities.   

Connect with YSA


Find us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on  YouTube 




YSA Funding Partners


State Farm
Sodexo Foundation
United Healthcare

Corporation for National and Community Service
Learn & Serve

News From the Field

Feed the Future: Horn of Africa Crisis

In response to the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has partnered with the Ad Council to launch a national public awareness campaign. Across the eastern Horn of Africa, more than 13 million people are now in need of emergency assistance to survive. 4 million are living through the worst famine in 20 years. The crisis is the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today, and the worst that East Africa has seen in six decades. Crops have failed, livestock have died, and prices in local markets are too high for most people to buy what is needed to feed their families. To learn more about U.S. assistance and how to help, visit  

Saturday, September 24 is...

 National Public Lands Day

Worldwide Day of Play     


Last Chance to Submit a Workshop Proposal for the 23rd Annual National Service-Learning Conference

 It's time to make a difference! Join us at the 23rd Annual National Service Learning Conference® and youthrive PeaceJam National Leadership Conference: Our World, Our Future, to be held April 11-14, 2012, in Minneapolis, Minn. If you are a young person, or a person who works with young people, this conference is for you! Share your service-learning experiences with the diverse conference audience of youth and adults from across the country and around the world. Submit a workshop proposal for the largest service-learning professional development conference in the world! Youth are strongly encouraged to submit proposals. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. CST, Sept. 23, 2011.     

Stop Bullying: Speak Up Pledge

The Stop Bullying: Speak Up app is now live on Facebook. To take the pledge, share the pledge with others, and download the widget to add the pledge app to your website, go to: 


Jumpstart's Read for the Record Pledge

Jumpstart's Read for the Record allows you to be an advocate for children in need. By sitting down to read, you'll be joining a movement of people who demand that all children receive the quality early education they need to be competitive in school and successful in life. Stand with us on October 6 and help us close America's achievement gap. Learn more and take the pledge at:   

Grants & Awards 


UnitedHealth HEROES Grants

Deadline: October 17

The UnitedHealth HEROES program is a service-learning, health literacy initiative that awards grants to help youth, ages 5-25, create and implement local, hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity. The grants encourage semester-long projects that launch on MLK Day of Service  and culminate on Global Youth Service Day. Schools, service-learning coordinators, non-profits, and students in the health professions located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply for the $500 - $1,000 grants. Learn more at  

Make a Difference Day Awards

Deadline: October 22

Join the largest day of community service, Make A Difference Day - a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors - on October 22, 2011. Register your Make A Difference Day project. When you create your project on the DAYtaBANK you also have the opportunity to enter it in the national awards competition to win a $10,000 award from Newman's Own! Report your project results after Oct. 22 for the opportunity to win one of two MOTOROLA XOOM tablets. In order to be considered to win one of 10 $10,000 grants from Newman's Own, you must register your project and report the results after the project.  


Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Deadline: November 1

If you've made a difference through volunteering over the past year, you could win $1,000 and a fabulous trip to Washington, D.C. next May by applying for a Prudential Spirit of Community Award! Even more importantly, you could win recognition that might inspire other young people to follow your example. These prestigious awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial and NASSP, have honored nearly 100,000 middle and high school students at the local, state, and national level over the past 16 years solely for their volunteer work.   


State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Grants

Deadline: November 9

State Farm™ is proud to team up with YSA to offer grants of up to $1,000 for service-learning projects in K-12 public schools in all fifty US states and the District of Columbia, and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick. The State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Grants encourage semester-long projects. Up to 125 grants will be awarded; at least 10-15 grants will support projects addressing teen driver safety issues. Learn more at        

Everyday Young Heroes

Milo Cress

Burlington, VT

YSA recognizes nine year old Milo Cress of Burlington, Vermont, as one of our Everyday Young Heroes for his efforts to campaign for reducing the use of plastic straws in his community and across the country.

When Milo learned that over 500 million straws are used every day in the US, he decided to stop using straws, and to begin an online project where others could join in to do the same. He started BeStrawFree, an organization that urges restaurants in Milo's home state of Vermont to use fewer plastic straws. Milo and his Team have a set out on a mission to reduce the use and waste of disposable plastic straws in communities across the country. Milo is working with members of the Straw Industry, Restaurants and other Businesses, Schools and Environmental Groups to fulfill the mission of BeStrawFree. Just as it is standard to be asked our preference for "paper or plastic" in grocery stores, Milo hopes it will become standard for restaurant customers to be asked if they'd like a straw or not when being served a drink.

Milo's campaign and organization have garnered him local and national recognition. On Feb. 9, 2011, Milo testified before the Vermont Natural Resources and Energy Committee at the State House in Montpelier, Vermont. In May, Milo met with Mayor Kiss, of Burlington, VT, who presented Milo with a formal proclamation that officially recognizes BeStrawFree's Offer-First Policy as a Best Practice in the city of Burlington, VT.  In July, Milo met with Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch in Washington, DC to discuss Milo's project which encourages restaurants to adopt an Offer-First policy: offering customers a straw rather than putting one in every drink automatically. His campaign has also received support from the National Restaurant Association, which formally recognized Milo's Offer-First suggestion as a best practice for restaurants nationwide.  

For his work advocating for environmentally friendly business practices, we honor Milo as an Everyday Young Hero. Learn more at   


To nominate a young person who has improved their community through service to be recognized as an Everyday Young Hero, please visit

Resources & Trainings

Project Ignition Blog Series

Last week, YSA's blog featured three posts from Project Ignition's National Program Director, Michael VanKeulen. Project Ignition offers grants and resources to public high schools to support their students in addressing teen driver safety through service-learning. This series of blogs highlighted the important work young people are doing to address this critical issue. Read the blog posts:

Project Ignition Grants
Deadline: November 15
The National Youth Leadership Council® and State Farm® are pleased to announce the availability of $2,000 Project Ignition grants for public high schools to support their students in addressing teen driver safety through service-learning. Public high schools in the United States and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick are invited to apply for the 2011-2012 grants. 25 schools will be chosen to receive $2,000 grants to implement their campaigns from January to April of this school year. Ten of these schools will be selected to receive additional support.   

2011 Civic Life in America Report

Between 2008 and 2010, a majority of Americans were civically active in a variety of ways, working with others to improve their communities, according to the 2011 Civic Life in America report. With nearly nine in 10 American households sitting down to dinner together frequently, more than half discussing politics at least a few times a month, and a third actively participating in groups or organizations, civic life in America continues to be dynamic. The research suggests that civic engagement is a reinforcing cycle. Citizens who participate in one area of civic engagement, like volunteering, are more likely to get involved in groups, contact public officials, or work with neighbors. Learn more about the status of civic life in America at:   

"Civic Health and Unemployment: Can Engagement Strengthen the Economy?"

New research released by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) finds that states with higher levels of civic engagement are more resilient in an economic downturn. The report identifies five measures of civic engagement - attending meetings, helping neighbors, registering to vote, volunteering and voting - which appear to protect against unemployment and contribute to overall economic resilience. The report examines civic indicators in comparison with eight economic indicators and finds that areas with higher civic participation rates experienced less growth in unemployment in the last 5 years than areas with lower civic participation. Read the report:


Service Calendars

Conferences & Events

YSA Youth Service Institute 

October 24-26 - Philadelphia, PA


2nd World Summit for Youth Volunteering 
November 3-5 - Barranquilla, Colombia


People to People International Global Youth Forum
November 9-13 -  Kansas City, MO


National AfterSchool Association Conference
April 2-4, 2012 - Dallas, TX 


National Service-Learning Conference 

April 11-14, 2012 - Minneapolis, MN


Best Of Out-of-School Time Conference 

April 25-28, 2012 - Palm Springs, CA 


See more events on the Conference Calendar.  

Seasons of Service

September 2011

Hunger Action Month - September
National Hispanic Heritage Month - 9/15 - 10/15  


October 2011
Domestic Violence Awareness Month - October
Intergeneration Day - October 2
World Habitat Day - October 3
World Mental Health Day - October 10
World Food Day - October 16
Intl. Day for the Eradication of Poverty - October 17
Make Your Mark Week - October 16-22
Teen Read Week
- October 16-22
America's Safe Schools Week - October 17-21
National SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Day - October 19
Lights on Afterschool - October 20
Make a Difference Day - October 22  

See more important dates on the Seasons of Service Calendar.  

Quote of the Week

"The world as I see it, is a remarkable place
A beautiful house in a forest, of stars in outer space.
From a birds eye view, I can see it has a well-rounded personality
From a birds eye view, I can see we are family. ...
Yeah the world as I see it, is a remarkable place.
Every man makes a difference, and every mother's child is a saint."

- Jason Mraz, "The World As I See It" for the "In Search of Incredible" campaign  

The Editors

Mike Minks

Mike Minks

Director of Outreach
and Innovation

Danielle Miranda

Danielle Miranda

Manager of Outreach
Associate Editor

Mike Man

Mike Man

Manager of Outreach
Associate Editor