We engage youth in team-based service experiences that build life and work skills while inspiring a lifetime ethic of service.
Youth Volunteer Corps is Unique
Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) began in 1987 as a summer service program for Kansas City youth. Today, YVC is a network of affiliated organizations across the U.S. and Canada running that same program by engaging youth ages 11-18 in team-based, structured, diverse, flexible service-learning opportunities.
YVC affiliates are hosted by a credible nonprofit organization, hosted by YVC Headquarters directly, or are independent YVC programs. Affiliates include United Ways, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, volunteer centers, parks and recreation departments, and other youth-serving organizations. Each YVC program looks a little different depending on the host organization and the local community, but they all implement the same program model and receive ongoing support and resources from YVC Headquarters.
Communities defined by compassion, selflessness, and respect for others.
Four Fundamental Goals
Strategic Focus Areas
Youth Volunteer Corps participants serve for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important to the youth is the opportunity to make a difference. As a network, YVC is focused on the following Strategic Focus Areas: Compassionate Communities, Healthy Lifestyles, Arts & Culture, STEM & Environment, and Education.
Developing compassion for others is a natural byproduct of service and YVC works to foster that potential at every turn. Any service opportunity that helps meet the basic needs and/or promotes the overall quality of life for both human and non-human animals in the community is included in this focus. Projects that fall under this category include serving at a homeless shelter, visiting with seniors at a skilled nursing facility, and walking dogs at the local animal shelter.
Healthy habits start early in life, so youth are well poised to be change agents in this arena. Projects that offer youth a chance to improve and promote the physical and mental well-being of their fellow citizens address this YVC focus. Sample projects include harvesting at a community garden, assembling kits at the free health clinic, and promoting an anti-smoking campaign.
Promoting the arts and celebrating culture is vital to the well-being of any community and YVC strives to engage youth in projects that address those areas to ensure a rich and diverse service experience. Projects that support the visual arts and humanities and promote cultural awareness are covered by this focus, such as creating community murals, volunteering at museums, or making crafts with children at a homeless shelter.
STEM refers to the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The U.S., Canada and other nations promote learning in those areas to ensure a well-rounded and competitive workforce. Examples of projects that develop new skills and understanding in STEM fields include tutoring younger children in computer literacy and serving with Habitat for Humanity where youth learn about the engineering of building a home. The environment in which we live provides natural resources that are essential to our health, quality of life and survival. Examples of environmental-based projects include constructing rainwater gardens to create innovative solutions for efficient rainwater runoff, participating in a river cleanup to learn how water is tested for pollutants, and working in a community garden to learn the importance of sustainable agriculture.
Research indicates the best way to truly learn something is to teach it to someone else. Education is highly valued at YVC, so while all projects are designed to be educational for the youth volunteers, this focus area captures those efforts where YVC youth teach others. Examples of projects include reading with and tutoring younger children, hosting an after-school enrichment program for children in a low-income community, or conducting introductory computer classes at a nursing home.
“Matt had trouble socializing with kids his age and got really upset over small things. But things changed when he started volunteering with YVC over the summer. He started acting more mature and showed a work ethic I had never seen. He started showing empathy for others and rarely asks for material things now. His general attitude has changed. He is more responsible, mature, and helpful. I no longer have to ask him to do chores—he asks if he can help me!”
Matt’s mother Angie