Projects That Work

At Wow we are constantly looking for information that supports our mission and better informs our quest to engage youth in acts of generosity; we read articles that discuss the social-emotional merits of service, and we follow institutional research groups like Harvard’s Making Caring Common and UC Berkeley’s Center for Greater Good, as well as national nonprofits such as Youth Service America,, and who engage youth in national or local service.

We read everything we can get our hands on. It turns out, that the data and the general consensus on service learning is that generosity among youth is good, and that service learning brings with it all sorts of benefits both for the recipient and the do-er. However, while there is general agreement on the merits, “the field of service learning lacks data-driven information on what projects are actually feasible for teachers and students to plan and do, as well as what factors support or inhibit implementation.” Which is why we got really excited to learn about “The Projects That Work study:”
The Projects that Work study will “Track[s] what service learning projects are being done across a national sample of middle and high schools as well as how these projects are implemented. By examining what happens, how well it happens, and what factors inhibit or optimize it happening, the study seeks to identify “what works” in the efficient and effective design and implementation of new projects.”

You can read the White Paper for the study in detail here or the summary on YSA’s website here. You can guarantee that we will be following this study as it progresses and working hard to incorporate much of what we learn into our own practices.

Already, the study has highlighted the following points that seem essential and reinforce Wow’s approach to engaging students in service opportunities:
Projects were most highly rated when…
– an expert from a community partner participated
– teachers provided more details on implementing the project
– students were more involved in planning a project
– when students engaged in certain types of reflection and dissemination activities

Keep following our blog, like us on FB and IG to keep up what we learn as we follow the “Projects that Work” study.

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