The Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Launch is an innovative and successful program working to promote and improve youth development and is one of the programs featured in Transforming Communities Through Service: A Collection of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps State and Volunteer Generation Fund Programs in the United States.
James Huffman, an AmeriCorps alumn who served with Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Launch reflected on his time with the program: “AmeriCorps had a profound impact on my professional development. My experiences with the AmeriCorps Youth Launch in Lamoni, Iowa continue to shape my identity and how I interact with clients. After I graduated, I continued to develop and use skills from my work with youth. I also continue to live by a commitment to service and selflessness which I saw exemplified by other AmeriCorps members and leaders in the Lamoni Community.”
The Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Launch program works with community members to change the culture of youth development to ensure that the children are taken care of first. AmeriCorps members work with programs at school or community-based sites to instill civic engagement principles and help youth find issues they are passionate about in hopes of continuing to grow rural Iowa. AmeriCorps members also work with the community to provide enrichment activities for youth including career shadowing, drama, drug prevention, life skills, and recreation. One of the main features of the program is a strong alumni group that continues to participate in national service, continues their education, and stays within the community to create a strong sense of volunteerism and service. According to a program-wide evaluation in 2011, the majority of members and supervisors believed that the program was good or excellent during that year in terms of effectiveness, strengthening the community, and helping the youth to build positive assets. The strong network and collaboration of Graceland University, volunteers, and community members is what helps to make this program so successful and unique. To learn more about how Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Launch is working with the community to change youth development culture go to: Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of the Most Innovation AmeriCorps State and Volunteer Generation Fund Programs in the United States.