Service Year Impact Communities: A Place-based Strategy for Making Universal National Service a Reality

Posted by Service Year Alliance on October 12, 2021

We are incredibly excited to officially launch our newest toolkit, Service Year Impact Communities: A Place-based Strategy for Making Universal National Service a Reality.

Whether you are looking to come together to utilize service years to address your most urgent community needs or you are part of an existing Service Year Impact Community that wants to understand how to integrate the principles of Universal National Service in your community — this toolkit offers a place-based guide for utilizing service years.

Service Year Impact Communities are local collaboratives utilizing service years as a strategy to address community needs among a diverse group of stakeholders. Together, Impact Communities create the conditions at the local level that are necessary to establish a culture of Universal National Service.

The toolkit is structured in two parts to help community collaboratives become a Service Year Impact Community or come together to utilize service years as a strategy for meeting community needs.

View the Toolkit.

Part I introduces the key elements necessary to create a Service Year Impact Community:

  • Structure: Key organizational components necessary to create and lead a place-based initiative; including a backbone organization, dedicated staff, and a coalition of partners.
  • Purpose: Vision for a community collaborative, the strategy the collaborative undertakes, and the goals and metrics they set.
  • Resiliency: Outlines some of the components and methods an initiative can use to cement themselves as a valued fixture in a community. It includes ideas that can help to sustain the initiative, like maintaining institutional knowledge and capacity, and ensuring the initiative can weather various types of problems and challenges, such as leadership turnover or the loss of a source of financial support.

Part II explains the principles of Universal National Service, so that Service Year Impact Communities can align and build purpose towards addressing community needs and utilizing service years that:

  • Exist at scale;
  • Address America’s unmet needs;
  • Bridge divides and fuel civic renewal;
  • Are an opportunity for all; and
  • Build pathways to long-term success for individuals who serve.

The Universal National Service principles are a framework for reaching goals in a community that build the conditions to utilize service years to their full potential. In this section, each principle is broken down to understand ways to achieve the principle and create a continuum that builds from novice to advanced in each strategy.

We want to hear your thoughts and reactions to this toolkit and we hope this supports the incredible work you are doing on the ground. Over the next year, we are looking to deepen our work in our existing Service Year Impact Communities and to expand our network. You can reach us at to learn more about what this might look like in your city, region or state.

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