Collection ID: MSS143
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Youth Service America
Youth Service America (YSA) was founded in 1986 as an independent, not-for-profit organization that has led the charge on creating, supporting, and promoting national and community service programs. Formed to strength the effectiveness, sustainability, and scale of the youth service and service-learning fields, Youth Service America is a resource center that partners with thousands of organizations committed to increasing the quality and quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people in America to serve locally, nationally, and globally. Current and former programming created to promote service and solve social and environmental problems include: National Youth Service Day and Global Youth Service Day, New Generation Training Program, Fund for Social Entrepreneurs, National Service SuperConference, Working Group on National and Community Service Policy, and SERVEnet.
23 cubic feet (21 cartons, 1 flat box, 1 oversized folder)
English .
Preferred citation:

Youth Service America Records, 1980-2017. Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.


Biographical / Historical:

Youth Service America (YSA) was founded in 1986 an independent, not-for-profit organization to define a vision that could unify the fragmented youth service field around common principles of community serve programming and youth development; and develop practical strategies for organizing and promoting a grass roots program network and help to spread effective program models nationwide.

Youth Service America was originally co-developed by Roger Landrum, who was one of the first 1961 Peace Corps Volunteers, and later ran some of the Peace Corps' most innovative training programs. As a consultant to the Ford Foundation in 1984-1985, he developed a breakthrough grant making strategy for creating a program and policy framework to launch the youth service movement. Landrum, along with Frank Slobig, formed a steering committee to plan a leadership organization for national service, supported by the Ford Foundation. Youth Service America was incorporated in 1986, with Landrum as President, Slobig as Treasurer, and Peter Szanton as Vice-President. In 1987, the Youth Service America board of directors was organized, with Landrum and Slobig appointed codirectors and Szanton as first board chair. In 1990, Landrum was appointed Executive Director and in 1992, he was appointed President of Youth Service America.

Pioneering the "streams of service" concept, Youth Service America embraced locally developed community service programs and youth corps in schools, colleges, universities, community non-profits, cities and states as a solid foundation for a nationwide system of youth service. During its early period, Youth Service America operated principally with foundation grants, but worked to obtain a greater level of individual and corporate contributors to secure a more diversified financial base for sustaining its mission: to build an ethic of service in America by helping to develop and sustain a national network of quality service programs that provide young people of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to begin a lifelong commitment to community improvement and civic participation.

In February of 1988, Youth Service America and Brown University convened the first national conference for leaders for the diverse program stream of the emerging youth service field. Over 75 key leaders, including governors, state officials, operators of state and local youth service programs, directors of national organizations, educators, and foundation and corporate officials attended the conference. The Brown University meeting was successful in unifying the leadership of diverse, pacesetting youth service ventures behind a common vision and action agenda for the new field. This annual conference would continue in the future, eventually coined "SuperConference" in the fall of 1992. SuperConference provided an opportunity for organizations to learn state-of-the-art practices as well as contribute to the strategies to ensure even greater progress both locally and nationally in the years ahead. The goal of the conference was to encourage national organizations with overlapping but somewhat differing constituencies to collaborate in planning one annual conference, reducing duplicate efforts by the cooperating organizations and multiple travel and registration costs for practitioners.

After the first conference in 1988, Youth Service America organized the Working Group on Youth Service Policy with 15+ partner organizations, which quickly became emerged as a valuable sounding board for new initiatives and strategies to expand the youth service field. The initial focus of the Working Group was promotion of youth service with presidential candidates during the 1988 campaign. During this period, over ten national service bills were introduced into congress, with members consulting the Working Group on shaping an omnibus youth service bill, both in the Senate (S.1430) and in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4330). Later, a Working Group on Community Service Policy was formed due to the success of the previous Working Group. In 1989, the Working Group on Youth Service Policy broadened its focus to develop expansion strategies for the youth service field at the national, state, and local levels, including promotion of policy initiatives by state legislatures and professional associations, statewide youth service coalitions, and replication strategies for successful programs. Also, in 1989, President Bush established the White Office of National Service. In 1990, congress passed a landmark National and Community Service Act, with advising assistance from the Working Group of Youth Service Policy, which allocated $62 million to support new and existing youth service programs around the country. While working closely with the White House and the Senate in the summer of 1991, a Commission on National and Community Service was appointed to oversee the distribution of funds allocated to states through the act. The Working Group on Community Service Policy worked with the National Commission to develop regulations consistent with its stated positions on quality youth service programs, participant diversity, and support for diverse streams and models of programming at the grass roots level, as well as the adoption of a state comprehensive service plan requirement. Beginning Summer of 1993, Youth Service America began providing the Commission with state-by-state analysis of the comprehensive service plans for all 50 states in response to the National and Community Service Trust Act.

On October 13, 1988, Youth Service America and Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL) organized the first national celebration of youth service, A Day in the Life of Youth Service. This event focused on drawing media attention to ongoing service projects performed by young people, ages 5-25, in communities across the nation to respond to the mounting negative stereotypes about young people in America. It was the first national effort to bring together programs from all the streams of youth service throughout the United States. During its first run, over 1,000 youth service programs from almost all 50 states participated in A Day in the Life of Youth Service. Due to its successful, it continued to become an annual event, renamed National Youth Service Day (NYSD). In 1990-1991, National Youth Service Day created new avenues for collaboration among national organizations, local youth service programs, community agencies, schools, universities and local, state and regional government. National Youth Service Day 1991 managed to expand to all 50 states. These networks helped generate the comprehensive state plans for funding through the National and Community Service Act of 1990. As part of the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, President Clinton issued a proclamation calling on citizens of the United States to recognize National Youth Service Day 1994 with ceremonies and activities. In 2000, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) was formed to coincide with National Youth Service Day to encourage young people in numerous countries to carry out community improvement projects. Youth Service America convened an International Coordinating Committee (ICC) to promote, organize, and coordinate this event. Global Youth Service Day takes place concurrently in more than 115 countries. Eventually, this was expanded into a Semester of Service project, with service projects extending from Martin Luther King Day of Service in January to Global Youth Service Day in April. This program continues today.

Also, in 1988, Youth Service America launched the Youth Volunteer Corps of America (YVCA) to follow its mission of promoting a lifelong ethic of service among the nation's young people. Youth Volunteer Corps of America was a full-time summer service program for high school students who selected service projects of interest, arranged through local non-profits. The central point of Youth Volunteer Corps of America was to demonstration that teenagers are valuable resources for any community, with the goal of creating a national network of locally-operated programs involving thousands of teenagers of diverse backgrounds in quality community service projects. The Youth Volunteer Corps of America became an independent organization in May 1992.

In 1989, an ad hoc caucus of young people began discussing national level involvement in the field. This led to the formation of a Youth Action Council to Youth Service America and representation on the Youth Service America board of directors. The council played a major role in planning conferences, advising on federal legislation, developing project concepts, and responding to press and television inquiries. Due to the successful of the Youth Action Council, a Youth Service Leadership Institute was formed in 1991. The new institute was designed to focus specifically on developing new crop of dynamic young leaders prepared to master the challenges of charting the course for the field in the years to come.

In 1991, Youth Service America launched the New Generation Training Program, a component of the Youth Service Leadership Institute. This program was designed to bring together young professionals in the youth service field for management and leadership training from a faculty of seasoned leaders in the field and management experts from both public and private sectors. Through a formal curriculum, each New Generation class attended three intensive sessions that included a needs assessment, management training and leadership development, and an evaluation process. After the training sessions, participants became part of an alumni network and were linked with mentors in their area of expertise. The first class, the Pioneer Class, contained 16 young professionals. In 1995-1996, Youth Service America expanded the number of classes and offered the training on a regional basis for its eight-day course.

In October of 1992, the National Service Seminar was formed to conduct a series of leadership workshops for up to 30 CEOs of youth service organizations. The goals of this seminar included improving cooperation and coordination among the participating organizations in advancing youth service; providing leadership management and development opportunities for chief executives for chief executives in the field; and giving non-governmental leaders greater opportunities to influence national and community service policy. In 1994, Youth Service America convened a high-level task force to evaluate the National Service Seminar, renamed the National Service Leadership Seminar, and recommended one seminar program a year at the national level and the expansion of the program to regional and state service leaders. It also proposed holding regional policy forums to address cutting-edge service issues relating to policy, politics or fundraising.

In 1992-1993, Youth Service America surveyed key leaders in the field about structuring a more formal program of identifying, supporting and training young entrepreneurs. The Fund for Social Entrepreneurs was created in 1994 to operate as a partnership venture with selected corporations and foundations to identify, train and support young social entrepreneurs seeking to create innovative service programs in diverse settings. The first class consisted of seven young entrepreneurs establishing programs to meet community needs. The ultimate goal of this program was to alter the national service landscape and foster the growth of a robust, self-sustaining entrepreneurial spirit.

In 1993, Youth Service America housed and staffed the National and Community Service Coalition, a collaboration of 120 organizations that were instrumental in shaping and educating constituencies about the National and Community Service Trust Act. The Coalition also provided recommendations to the White House Office of National Service and to the relevant congressional committees. The passing of the National and Community Service Trust Act in September 1993 brought $1.5 billion in federal funding into the field over three years, supporting all the streams of youth service advocated by Youth Service America. The act also created a new federal Corporation for National and Community Service. With this development, Youth Service America became better positioned to help strengthen the field's national infrastructure and maintain a clear focus on programming quality throughout the field. Through the Corporation for National and Community Service, Youth Service America continued profiling states for comprehensive state service plans as well as overseeing the implementation of the trust act. In 1995, Youth Service America completed a cooperative agreement with the Corporation to provide technical assistance to the state commissions established through federal legislation to administer AmeriCorps grants. This work helped increase the efficiency of state commissions, build bridges between commissions and the Corporation, and, ultimately, strengthen the programs and delivery system of the entire national and community service field.

In 1994, Youth Service America began developing an on-line computer network - SERVEnet - for service professionals to carry Working Group on Community Service Policy documents and encourage on-line discussions and networking. Launched in 1995, guests could view daily legislative and programmatic alerts; download dozens of files and documents of interest; share successes and challenges in the message center; search the national database of service organizations; find events and conferences in the national calendar; and link to the internet for additional resources. The SERVEnet Ambassadors project mobilized, trained, and supported students as they mapped the volunteer opportunities, assets, and resources in their communities. SERVEnet also matched the skills, experiences, and enthusiasm of volunteers who wished to help with organizations that needed them.

In 1998, Youth Service America launched the President's Student Service Awards, sponsored by the Corporation for National Service. This was a White House initiative to recognize youth volunteers for their outstanding service and to encourage more young people to serve their communities. The hope of this program was to motivate and recognize millions of young people, ages 5-25, who completed 50-100 hours of service per year through the presentation of presidential awards and scholarships.

Since 1996, Steve Culbertson has been President and Chief Executive officer of Youth Service America. As an active organization, Youth Service America's current mission is to help all young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues, while supporting a global culture of engaged children and youth committed to a lifetime of meaningful service, learning, and leadership.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of the records from Youth Service America (YSA). The collection covers the years 1980-2017, with the largest portion coming from the years 1992-2005. Although there are gaps within this collection, the records provide the best overview of the development and history of Youth Service America. The files are generally arranged in alphabetical order unless stated otherwise.

The collection is divided into four series: Office Files, Program Files, Subject Files, and Audio Visual.

Office Files, 1980-2015

This series consists of six main subseries: Administrative files, Conference files, Financial files, Legislative files, Project files, and Roger Landrum files.

Administrative files, 1986-2015, contain annual reports, board of director meeting minutes, correspondence, media clippings, National Service Leadership Seminar files, newsletters, Presidents' Summit for America's Future files, strategic plans, Working Group on National and Community Service Policy/Youth Service Policy files, and Youth Action Council files. Nine folders total were added to this part of the collection from an outside collection.

Conference files, 1987-2014, contain SuperConference files, National Service-Learning Conference files, and National Conference on Community Volunteering and National Service files among others. Conference files are arranged chronologically.

Financial files, 1987-2011, contain federal form 990s and yearly financial statements for Youth Service America.

Legislative files, 1987-2008, contain files over government acts and reauthorizations, including the National Service and Community Trust Act of 1993. Legislative files are arranged chronologically.

Project files, 1987-2012, contain ServiceVote files, the State of Service-Learning Project files, Youth Service Compact files, Youth Service Institute files, and Youth Volunteer Corps of America files among others.

Roger Landrum files, 1980-1995, contain correspondence, speeches, and publications by Roger Landrum. Roger Landrum files are arranged chronologically.

Program Files, 1983-2017

This series consists of four main subseries: Youth Service Day files, New Generation Training Program files, Fund for Social Entrepreneurs files, and State Commissions files.

Youth Service Day files, 1988-2017, contain planning toolkits, service-learning curriculum, reports, posters, and media coverage for A Day in the Life of Youth Service, National Youth Service Days, and Global Youth Service Days.

New Generation Training Program files, 1983-1998, contain reports, participant lists, reflection journals, applications, participant workbooks, and site info for the New Generation Training Program. The applicant files are restricted.

Fund for Social Entrepreneurs files, 1993-2001, contain reports, correspondence, grant files, applications, and retreat files for the Fund for Social Entrepreneurs program. The applicant files are restricted.

State Commissions files, 1991-1996, contain national service commission reports by Youth Service America for 31 states and Puerto Rico.

Subject Files, 1980-2015

This series consists of publications from related nonprofit organizations, foundations, universities, associations, and corporations that appear within the collection. Some organizations include America's Promise, American Youth Policy Forum, Forum for Youth Investment, Grantmaker Forum on Community and National Service, National and Community Service Coalition, National Conference on Citizenship, National Service-Learning Partnership, National Youth Leadership Council, Points of Life Foundation, ServiceNation, and Youth Service California. 73 folders total were separated out from this part of the collection and placed within the appropriate collections.

Audio Visual, 1987-2005

This series consists of a CD, an audiocassette, 8mm, Betacam, and Betacam SP videocassettes, and VHS and SVHS tapes that appear within the collection, related to both Youth Service America and organizations mentioned in the Subject Files. Ten VHS tapes total were separated out from this part of the collection and placed within the appropriate collections.

Acquisition information:
Presented by Youth Service America, Washington D.C., December 2018. Includes accession A2018/19-025.

Additions presented by Susan Stroud, July 2019, including a poster and materials related to Roger Landrum. Includes accessions A2019/20-007 and A2019/20-014.

Rules or conventions:
DACS-Describing Archives: A Content Standard
General note:

Rights Statement: The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).



This collection is open to the public; Applicant files for Youth Service America programs are restricted.


The copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.


Youth Service America Records, 1980-2017. Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

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