Brigham Young University’s (BYU) Center for Service and Learning, formerly known as the Jacobsen Center for Service and Learning, was formed in 1998 as a means to promote lifelong service and learning among BYU students. The Center has grown since that time and now sponsors 31 community service programs, a peer tutoring program and a tutor outreach program, with more than 9,000 students volunteering their time and talents annually. In 2003, students donated in excess of 55,000 hours to organize service opportunities and give back to their community.
The service programs run with the help of 55 student volunteers fulfilling leadership roles. These students organize the programs, plan service activities, recruit students, train and mentor volunteers and effectively carry out meaningful service within the community. Examples of service rendered by volunteers include mentoring, tutoring, literacy education, community clean-up, visiting the elderly and assisting the physically and mentally disabled.
The Center has 10 mentoring programs, which partner BYU students with children and youth in the community. These students provide the children and youth with a positive role model and encourage them to reach their full potential. This year, a new program entitled Project Youth will bring 1,100 underprivileged fifth and sixth grade students to campus. The children will experience a day of college life in hopes of encouraging them to pursue higher education. Another program is Youth Detention, which facilitates volunteers to befriend and mentor youth at one of the state’s only youth correctional facilities.
Each year, the peer-tutoring program relies on hundreds of BYU student volunteers to assist their peers in their classes. The Center also facilitates a Tutor Outreach to Provo School District program, which typically has 900 students volunteer to tutor children and youth within the Provo School District (PSD). These volunteers assist local teachers in helping PSD students learn. BYU students also fulfill literacy needs in the community by teaching adults, youth and children to read at local literacy centers.
Adopt-a-Grandparent student volunteers go to care facilities on a weekly basis to brighten the days of the elderly through music and friendship. As part of the Adaptive Aquatics program, students can volunteer at the University’s pool to swim with local elementary and junior high school students who have special needs. This allows the children to receive needed physical therapy in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
The BYU Center for Service and Learning is a resource that has had an extremely positive impact on both BYU students and the community. The Center assists BYU students in making meaningful contributions as they fulfill real needs within their local community.