National Service Learning Conference

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The National Service-Learning Conference was first held in 1988 to serve as "the largest gathering of youth and practitioners from the service-learning movement" of the United States. The conference is a program of the National Youth Leadership Council, and is co-hosted annually by partner organizations in the state or region where it is being held. Sponsors of the conference include United Parcel Service, Best Buy, Shinnyo-en Foundation, United Way of America, and E. Ronald and Patricia Parish.

The conference focuses on service-learning, an approach to teaching and learning in which students use academic knowledge and skills to address genuine community needs. Annually, the National Service-Learning Conference convenes teachers and other service-learning practitioners, administrators, researchers, policy-makers, youth leaders, parents, program coordinators, national service members, community-based organization staffs, and corporate and foundation officers. The conference is unique because typically youth comprise more than half its attendees and are treated as equal contributors. Youth present, exhibit, and attend the three-and-a-half-day event same as their adult counterparts.

Each year the conference features over 200 workshop sessions, thought-leader sessions, keynote addresses, an interactive exhibit hall with a service-learning showcase and college fair, both on- and off-site service-learning projects to allow participants an authentic learning opportunity, an administrator's academy, indigenous service-learning forum, preconference sessions for in-depth learning, as well as countless networking and professional development opportunities. Speakers from around the world present on international issues and help to ground the conference in a rapidly globalizing world. Artists, students, and community members from the host locale contribute to the ambiance of the conference each year. The hallways, exhibit hall aisles, and general spaces are transformed with spoken word, drumming, murals, paintings, etc. The conference takes on the culture of the city that hosts it, from the local food that is served to service projects that provide a deeper understanding of the host city.

For 2012, the conference was co-hosted with youthrive, the upper midwest affiliate of PeaceJam, and presented as The 23rd Annual National Service-Learning Conference & youthrive PeaceJam Leadership Conference. In addition to the full range of conference workshops and activities, the partnership with youthrive PeaceJam brought Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi as a featured speaker, and the week-long event ended with a celebration of Global Youth Service Day at the Mall of America.

The Service-Learning World Forum began in 2008 as a pre-conference session of the larger conference and is now an integral program of the larger conference. The World Forum engages attendees with international leaders, exploring youth service and service-learning as forces that span cultural and national boundaries, building communities and strengthening young people. World Forum attendees discover how service-learning is implemented from Ireland, to Argentina, to the Middle East, and is useful for both those working internationally and those interested in expanding their programs.

Each year since 2003 the conference has highlighted the National Service-Learning Awards. Awards are presented to leaders in the field of service-learning, both youths and adults. In 2006 the first William James National Service Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by the National Youth Leadership Council in conjunction with several leading service organizations. The award was given to former Senator Harris Wofford and presented by President Bill Clinton, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and Dr. James Kielsmeier. Since its inception, the conference has planted trees in each city that has hosted the event, in honor of the service-learning award winners.

The October 2009 issue of One+ magazine featured a four-page article highlighting the conference and its commitment to the community. One+ magazine is the official publication of Meeting Planners International. One+ is the leading voice of the meeting and event industry, reaching 30,000+ industry professionals on six continents.

List of conferences[edit]

Conference Location Date Theme
27th Minneapolis, Minnesota March 30-April 2, 2016 Educate. Ignite. Transform.
26th Washington D.C. April 8-11, 2015 More Powerful Together
25th Washington D.C. April 9-11, 2014 MONUMENTAL
24th Denver, Colorado March 13-15, 2013 Without Limits
23rd Minneapolis, Minnesota April 11-16, 2012 Our World Our Future
22nd Atlanta, Georgia April 6-9, 2011 The Time is Now!
21st San Jose, California March 24-28, 2010 Inspire, Imagine, Innovate!
20th Nashville, Tennessee March 18-21, 2009 Growing Hope, Cultivating Change
19th Minneapolis, Minnesota April 9-12, 2008 Youth for a Change
18th Albuquerque, New Mexico March 28-31, 2007 Beyond Borders, Beyond Boundaries
17th Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2006 We The People
16th Long Beach, California 2005 Educating for Change
15th Orlando, Florida 2004 Citizens not Spectators: Fulfilling the Promise of Democracy
14th Minneapolis, Minnesota 2003 Weaving the Fabric of Community: A Celebration of Service-Learning
13th Seattle, Washington 2002 Reflecting on the Past, Envisioning the Future
12th Denver, Colorado 2001 Partnerships for a Civil Society
11th Providence, Rhode Island 2000 Leadership for the Common Good
10th San Jose, California 1999 Powerful Connections for the 21st Century
9th Minneapolis, Minnesota 1998 One World: Youth at the Center
8th Orlando, Florida 1997 Coming Together to Create a Brighter Tomorrow
7th Detroit, Michigan 1996 A Gathering of Many Voices...Each Voice Counts
6th Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1995 Service-Learning: Integrating Schools and Communities for Learning
5th Albuquerque, New Mexico 1994 Leadership for Community Renewal
4th Minneapolis, Minnesota 1993 Facing the Challenge: Revitalizing Education, Renewing Community
3rd Everett, Washington 1992 Experience the Power
2nd Minneapolis, Minnesota 1991 Generating Change: The Power of Service-Learning - Community Renewal and Education Reform
1st Minneapolis, Minnesota 1989 Growing Hope: Strengthening Education and Building Communities

Past speakers[edit]

Conference Location Speaker(s)
25th Washington D.C. Arne Duncan, Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Foxx, Sally Jewell, Harris Wofford
23rd Minneapolis, Minnesota Shirin Ebadi, Geoffrey Canada
22nd Atlanta, Georgia Greg Mortenson
21st San Jose, California Sir Ken Robinson, Talia Leman, Carol Bellamy
20th Nashville, Tennessee Dr. James Hildreth
19th Minneapolis, Minnesota Archbishop Desmond Tutu
18th Albuquerque, New Mexico Jane Goodall
17th Philadelphia, Pennsylvania President Bill Clinton, Gerda Weissmann Klein, Hafsat Abiola
16th Long Beach, California Erin Gruwell

See also[edit]

External links[edit]