National Family Service Learning Week: Sept. 12-16

This week, Members of Congress, led by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, and Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) in the House of Representatives, declared the week beginning on September 12, 2016, as “National Family Service Learning Week.”

Family Service Learning is the National Center for Families Learning’s (NCFL) two-generation solution to building stronger communities, an approach to learning often employed by school-age and college students that can lead to increased school engagement, civic participation, and leadership activities.

Taking service learning a step further, NCFL’s Family Service Learning model provides traditional family literacy content while addressing community needs and engaging adult learners, their children, other family members, and community partners. Put simply, Family Service Learning builds on parents’ assets and brings families and the community together through hands-on learning.

Families drive Family Service Learning programming at every step: from conceptualizing and planning the events, recruiting donors and volunteers, carrying out the plan of action, and reflecting on what went well and what can be improved. This model has been strengthened through practice and, according to independent evaluation results, has shown academic and social gains for children and adults: better employment opportunities, decreased social isolation, improved technology and formal learning skills, greater sense of self-efficacy and self-confidence, and expanded social capital.

From cleaning up neighborhood streets and making scarves and meals for the homeless to beautifying parks and benches and raising awareness of the importance of drinking water, more than 20 schools, libraries, and community-based organizations across the U.S. have planned and are planning Family Service Learning activities with low-income and ethnically-diverse families for this upcoming school year. Fifteen are Toyota Family Learning grantees; one of the latest examples from these Family Service Learning leaders is a project led by the Houston Public Library that culminated in an official proclamation of Toyota Family Learning Day on May 31, 2016.

Contact us for more information, action steps, and resources on how to facilitate successful Family Service Learning programs in your community and to discuss professional development opportunities.