Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Billion Acts of Green

April 22, 2011 is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. This year’s theme, “A Billion Acts of Green”, aims to get everyone involved in environmental advocacy and service.

Earth day was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Horrified by the environmental devastation wreaked by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill (a spill which, for the record, was far smaller than the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill), Senator Nelson sought to capitalize on the mobilizing power of college students to seek environmental change.

Originally, Earth Day was to be a day of teaching and environmental advocacy, but it has grown into a day of service as well. Young people around the globe have dedicated their time and energy to helping better the earth, both on Earth Day and year-round. The Student Conservation Association (SCA), for example, has over 4,000 interns and volunteers who provide more than two million hours of conservation service per year and is sponsoring several Earth Day events.

But what can you do to get involved in Earth Day? A lot! Attend an Earth Day event in your area, or make a pledge to turn off your lights, take the bus or carpool to work, or call your representative about environmental issues. Even just going to your local park and cleaning up trash is helpful! A great thing you can do for Earth Day, however, is to celebrate it every day. The environment doesn’t just need our projection one day a year, it needs it every day. Making small changes in your life can do far more for the environment than attending a one-day event (though we certainly encourage that as well!).

Here at ICP, we strongly support Earth Day and the environmental movement. We are advocates of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and other strategies for expanding opportunities for environment-focused youth service, and have created the Green Youth Service Resource Center to help compile publications, news and funding opportunities for environment-focused youth service. If you have any additional information for our resource center, email us at or, as always, just let us know in the comments!

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Global Youth Service Day!

Starting today through April 17, millions of people around the globe will be celebrating Global Youth Service Day, the world’s largest event dedicated to service. Many organizations have been planning their events for months (though there are still plenty of ways to get involved for all the last-minute types) and have put together really impressive programs. Check out this blog for more general GYSD information.

Young People We Care (YPWC), a youth-led nonprofit in Ghana, is serving as the GYSD West African Regional Partner for the second time. Founded in 2005, YPWC seeks to provide a “'youthful voice' that seeks to address the numerous challenges facing leaders of tomorrow by effectively using young resourceful minds to influence the course of global policy formulation and development in a consistent and harmonized manner”.

To celebrate Global Youth Service Day, YPWC has been holding events throughout the month of April. To launch the GYSD festivities, YPWC held a kickoff event at the University of Education, Winneba. This event, emceed by a popular radio host, featured speeches by a Presidential candidate, members of Ghana’s National Youth Council, and Nana Ama Agyeiwaa, winner of the 2010 Ghana's Most Beautiful cultural reality show and Millennium Development Goals Ambassador, as well as presentations by students from the local Jr. High School. Following the launch event, participants traveled to the rural community on the outskirts of Kumasi, Ghana to help with a local clean-up effort. Children and adults cleaned the town “until they couldn’t clean anymore!”

In addition to the launch event, YPWC has helped to facilitate the events of its partners throughout West Africa.

In Liberia, Child Liberia will mobilize youth in three geographical regions of Liberia including urban slum communities and rural towns and villages to promote HIV/AIDS prevention campaign using community information systems, culture dances, drama and radio jingles. The goal is to respond to the 8.5% HIV/AIDS rate reported in 2010 and help young people lead activities of youth football education to pass messages.

In Togo, People to People International plans to use GYSD to engage youth in clean-up exercises, promote inter-educational and cultural programs and activities in schools, engage youth to volunteer in the children's homes and to assist people living with HIV/AIDS and organize tree planting activities in at least 15 schools across the nation

In Sierra Leone, Saviour and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) will organize 3 major projects in 12 communities, with the "Youth Awareness Campaign" also implemented in 2 communities. This campaign will include visiting ghettos and sensitizing youth on the effects of drug abuse. The "Sweep Up and Pick Up Campaign" will mobilize youth to sweep and pick up unwanted materials within 6 communities. SAVE will also initiate a one-day tree planting campaign with the Forestry Division in the Ministry of Agriculture.

These projects are just a sample of the many projects occurring right now in West Africa and countries around the world. Clearly, West African Youth are involved and excited to serve. What are you doing for GYSD? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Celebrating National Volunteer Week

From April 10-16, 2011, nonprofits and other organizations across the nation will be celebrating National Volunteer Week (NVW), a time dedicated to “inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities.”

Everyone likes to be recognized for their good work, and volunteers are no different. In a time when Congress is considering completely cutting the Corporation for National and Community Service, it is more important than ever to recognize the great work volunteers do in the community, and to show how much we would lose by cutting volunteer services. (For ways to tell Congress why they shouldn’t cut service, please visit

Instead of just thanking the volunteers themselves, tell the entire community how important volunteers are. This blog has four tips for sharing the importance of volunteers with the greater community, including writing letters to the editor and contacting your state and national representation.

There are many ways to commemorate National Volunteer week, which will be filled with ceremonies honoring dedicated volunteers and events designed to get communities involved in volunteering. HandsOn Network has produced a great resource guide to help nonprofits plan and promote their events, and is also recognizing volunteers of their own. You can learn more about nominations for HandsOn volunteer recognition here.

National Volunteer Week generally focuses on recognizing people who already volunteer, but is also a great opportunity to get more people involved in volunteer efforts. Many people don’t volunteer because they don’t know how to get involved, and National Volunteer Week is a great time to get the word out about volunteering opportunities.

Many groups are holding large, one-time events during National Volunteer Week that will engage the whole community and put their efforts and volunteers in the spotlight. In ICP’s neighborhood, on April 15-16, Greater DC Cares is holding its annual Servathon. Over 8,000 volunteers will participate in nearly 100 service projects across the Greater DC area, doing everything from painting schools to painting nails.

Want to participate in a National Volunteer Week event? has 5,000 different NVW activities listed, including both short-term and long-term volunteering opportunities. With so many options, everyone can get involved!

Is your organization doing something for National Volunteer Week? Are you participating in an event? Let us know in the comments!


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