Service as Part of the Curriculum

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 22, 2009 1 min read
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President Barack Obama visited the District of Columbia’s SEED School yesterday to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. He described the school as “a place where service is a core component of the curriculum,” according to a transcript of his remarks. President Obama added that “just as the SEED School teaches reading and writing, arithmetic and athletics, it also prepares our young Americans to grow into active and engaged citizens.”

I report in a story just published at on several new programs created by the Serve America Act aimed at engaging middle and high school youths in community service. With these new programs comes authorization for additional funds that schools may tap into. We’ll have to wait, though, until the U.S. Congress approves a new budget for fiscal 2010 to see what’s appropriated for the new programs.

But if your school has thought about launching a service-learning curriculum or strengthening one that is already in place, now is the time to read the fine print in the Serve America Act (search for H.R. 1388) and see how you might apply for federal funds to do so. And a couple of organizations—Innovations in Civic Participation and the National Youth Leadership Council—are poised to help you. The Corporation for National and Community Service will administer all the money that is appropriated for the Serve America Act.

In the meantime, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has announced several initiatives to back volunteerism. Among them is a requirement that all public school principals in the city create a plan to promote volunteerism among students.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.