International Issues and Placement Opportunities for Service Year Alliance in Partnership with the BBC
Service Year Alliance believes that a service year before, during, or after college gives young people the chance to transform their lives, make an impact in their community, and become the active citizens and leaders our nation needs. Building Bridges Coalition (BBC), a global network of public and private-sector partners, has been a leading advocate of international volunteer service for a decade since its launch at Brookings Institution in 2006. Together SYA- BBC has collaborated to better understand the global needs-issues that could be addressed by young Americans during a year of service abroad. BBC was tasked to evaluate the landscape and potential market size for international service year opportunities for a portion of the SYA target goal of one million or more young Americans serving annually, in both domestic and international programs. In general the international volunteers would work to help promote the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Following its 10th anniversary convening at Brookings, Building Bridges Coalition, at the request of Service Year Alliance, prepared a research scan and engaged service leaders who work in partnership to address the critical global issues of sustainable development goals in communities, nations and regions. BBC was charged with identifying which core international needs could benefit from a large influx of service year participants, estimate how many 18 to 28-year-old Americans could be engaged in a service year addressing those issues, and identify any promising examples of service year programs already addressing those issues.
The illustrative research-based themes that emerged as core and open to involving service year participants included: health, education, agriculture & food security, environment & climate change, youth development & livelihoods; and peace/cross cultural understanding. Our findings and recommendations are based on the following compilation:
“Researching Effective Practices in International Volunteering Report” by Dr. Benjamin J. Lough, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dr. Rebecca Tiessen, University of Ottawa, and subsequent follow-on analysis prepared for BBC-SYA by Dr. Lough, BBC’s research chair and United Nations Volunteers research consultant; a BBC generated 10 question survey that went out to the BBC membership and recent Brookings forum participants; a practitioner roundtable session BBC organized at SYA headquarters that consulted international issue area experts; stakeholder interviews in global service issue areas; and secondary sources (web-based research).