(Washington, D.C) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced a concurrent resolution recognizing the benefits of service-learning and expressing support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge occurring between October 5 and October 11, 2009. This program was included in the recently reauthorized Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

“We have some great programs in Washington state that demonstrate just how effective service-learning programs are as a dropout prevention strategy,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I strongly encourage all schools, colleges, and non-profits to expand opportunities for young people to get involved in programs that help them become stronger students and more effective citizens.”

Service-learning is a teaching method that integrates academic content with a meaningful civic engagement activity that addresses a real community need.  Research and experience have shown that the intersection between rigorous academic learning and relevant service experiences have real and tangible benefits for our youth and communities.

This last line should read: This resolution was originally co-sponsored by Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The full text of the resolution follows:

Recognizing the benefits of service-learning and expressing support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge.

Whereas service-learning is a teaching method that enhances academic learning by integrating classroom content with relevant activities aimed at addressing identified community and/or school needs;

Whereas service-learning has been used both in school and community-based settings as a teaching strategy to enhance learning by building on youth experiences, granting youth a voice in learning, and making instructional goals and objectives more relevant to youth;

Whereas service-learning addresses the Nation’s dropout epidemic by making education more “hands-on” and relevant, and has been especially effective in addressing the dropout epidemic with respect to disadvantaged youth;

Whereas service-learning is proven to provide the greatest benefits to disadvantaged and at-risk youth by building self-confidence, which often translates into overall academic and personal success;

Whereas service-learning provides not only meaningful experiences, but a greater quantity and quality of interactions between youth and potential mentors in the community;

Whereas service-learning simultaneously empowers youth as actively engaged learners, citizens, and contributors to the community;

Whereas youth engaged in service-learning provide critical service to the community by addressing a variety of needs in American towns, cities, and States, including needs such as tutoring young children, care of the elderly, community nutrition, disaster relief, environmental stewardship, financial education, public safety;

Whereas far reaching and diverse research base shows that service-learning enhances the academic, career, cognitive and civic development of students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and students at institutions of higher education;

Whereas service-learning strengthens and increases the number of partnerships among institutions of higher education, local schools, and communities, which strengthens communities and improves academic learning;

Whereas service-learning programs allow a multitude of skilled and enthusiastic college students to serve in the communities surrounding their colleges;

Whereas service-learning programs engage students in actively addressing and solving pressing community issues and are strengthening the ability of America's nonprofit organizations to meet community needs;

Whereas Learn and Serve America, a program established under subtitle B of the title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12521 et seq.), is the only Federally funded program dedicated to service-learning, engages over 1,100,000 youth in service-learning each year;

Whereas Learn and Serve America is a highly cost-effective program, with an average cost of approximately $25 per participant and leverage of $1 for every Federal dollar invested;

Whereas the National Learn and Serve Challenge spotlights the value of service-learning to young people, schools, college campuses, and communities; encourages others to launch service-learning activities; and increases recognition of Learn and Serve America: therefore, be it  

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress-

  1. Recognizes the benefits of service-learning which include
    a. enriching and enhancing academic outcomes for youth;
    b.  engaging youth in positive experiences in the community; and 
    c. Encouraging youth to make more constructive choices with regards to their lives;
  2.  Encourage schools, school districts, college campuses, community based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based organizations to provide youth with more service-learning opportunities; and
  3.  Expresses support for the goals of the National Learn and Serve Challenge