How do you convert a verbal “yes” into a tangible commitment?
“Our teenage population is clearly frustrated. The problem we face in America today is not a lack of willingness to serve or to help others, but to find the appropriate outlet for their zeal to help others.” – David Battey, Founder of Youth Volunteer Corps
In this episode, meet David Battey, the founder of Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC), which is a network of organizations across the US and Canada that engage young people aged 11-18 in team-based, structured, diverse, and flexible service-learning opportunities. Battey’s powerful experience of volunteering as a condition of his church membership in his ninth-grade year inspired him to write a college thesis on a national youth service program. This ultimately led to creating YVC in 1987, as there was no nationwide service program for young people under 18.
YVC (Youth Volunteer Corps) has successfully partnered with a sea of local service organizations, such as the United Way, YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Clubs. With their support, YVC has grown to include 30 chapters in the US, three in Canada, and one in Uganda. The organization has successfully engaged over 300,000 young people who have collectively volunteered for almost 5 million hours of service.
“When we talk about service learning, it is actually service learning — we’re learning from service, gaining new insights into how the service that we do affects the people within our community and beyond.” – a YVC Corps member
David Battey credits a key piece of advice for the success of the Youth Volunteer Corps: “Do the research. Really look and see what’s out there already, and don’t duplicate what’s already being done.”
This principle is a cornerstone of systems change leadership and has helped YVC avoid duplicating existing programs and focus on addressing the gaps in youth service opportunities. He also discusses another secret to his success and shares how to convert a verbal “yes” into a tangible commitment.
The podcast also features Betsy Calmer, the Director of Marketing for YVC, who shares powerful advice to keep going, doing something grand, keeping it fun, not being afraid of “no,” and finding new opportunities for growth.
Betsy and David’s work inspires Service Academy’s Ryan and Thomas to find and engage existing support structures and advocates like the incredible St. George’s School faculty, local nonprofits, and youth service pioneers like YVC. Similar to YVC, Service Academy is laser focused on developing a wellspring of student-centered opportunities that not only benefit the community, but also help young people develop the skills they need to achieve their personal goals and make a positive impact on the world.
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Service Academy is a youth-led social impact organization committed to elevating the social value of youth service and co-creating youth service activities that map to the life skills that young people value.
WITH SPECIAL THANKS — The Service Academy Podcast is created and produced in coordination with MCS Media, executive producers Donny Dykowsky, Dan Strong, Aaron Kheifets, and Mike Bulger.