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Global Youth Service Day

Apr 12, 2019

Image: Global Youth Service Day logo -
Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), according to, originally launched and known as National Youth Service Day in the United States, is a coordinated annual event which gathers young people around the world in conducting community service, service learning, and youth voice activities that benefit their communities, their countries, and the world. Activities are organized in more than 100 countries each April to help mark the celebrations, and engage millions, making it the largest annual celebration of young volunteers.
This year, the event will span Friday through Sunday, April 12-14. Coordinated by Youth Service America together with a coalition of organizations, GYSD's primary sponsor is State Farm with contributing sponsorship from Disney and the Inter-American Development Bank. More than 2,000 youth organizations around the world participate each year. A variety of organizations with national reach across the United States engage in National Youth Service Day activities, including the United States Conference of Mayors, Woodmen of the World, and Habitat for Humanity. A variety of organizations have been accredited with administering the day, including Global Youth Action Network, Youth Service America, and Points of Light Foundation.
Speaking about Global Youth Service Day, Jane Goodall commented, "I have often said that every individual counts, every individual has a role to play, and every individual makes a difference. Global Youth Service Day proves it." Kofi Annan said that, "Volunteers are some of our most valued partners, and Global Youth Service Day celebrates the efforts of the youngest of them."
History of YSD
In 2018, we celebrated the 30th Annual Global Youth Service Day. GYSD started as “A Day in the Life of Youth Service” in 1988, became National Youth Service Day in 1990, and expanded to be Global Youth Service Day in 2000 according to
1988  A Day in the Life of Youth Service
In October 1988, YSA sent photographers out across the United States to capture images of “A Day in the Life of Youth Service”, and the public was stunned at the depth and breadth of the energy, commitment, idealism, and creativity of children and youth serving their communities.  President Ronald Reagan issued a letter of support..
1989-1990  National Youth Service Day
U.S. Senator Jack Heinz chaired a planning meeting organized by Youth Service America, The Jefferson Awards, Campus Outreach Opportunity League, the United States Conference of Mayors, and Weekly Reader to plan the follow-up to “A Day in the Life of Youth Service” – National Youth Service Day 1990. 1,500 programs and 331 mayors hosted special service events, recognition & award ceremonies, and city-wide youth forums..
1993  National Youth Service Day at the White House
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted the kick-off event for the fifth annual National Youth Service Day at the White House. U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and Harris Wofford served as Honorary Co-Chairs.  Later that year, Congress official declared National Youth Service Day as a national day of service in the National Community Service Trust Act.
1995-1996  National Youth Service Day Goes Online
In 1995, YSA launched its first website – – to provide information about National Youth Service Day. In 1996, SERVEnet was redeveloped to be the first online database of volunteer opportunities. For a decade, SERVEnet was the largest source of volunteer opportunities online and served as a model for the many volunteer database websites that would follow.
1996  First YSA Grants to Support National Youth Service Day Projects
1999, YSA partnered with Sears and the Backstreet Boys to develop the first-ever YSA Grants program – the “Larger than Life Awards.” 36 winners received a $2,000 grant to fund a project for National Youth Service Day 2000, four tickets to a Backstreet Boys concert and the opportunity to meet the Backstreet Boys backstage. YSA now distributes over $1 million in grants each year.
2000  National Youth Service Day Goes Global
In 2000, YSA expanded National Youth Service Day to be an international program called Global Youth Service Day.  For several years, the day continued to be observed as National Youth Service Day in the U.S. and Global Youth Service Day internationally. In 2008, the name National Youth Service Day was officially retired. GYSD is now celebrated in over 100 countries each year.
2001  State Farm Becomes Presenting Sponsor
YSA received a major gift from State Farm. For twelve years, State Farm has partnered with YSA to mobilize and engage youth through Global Youth Service Day™ and Semester of Service™. Because of YSA’s partnership with State Farm, YSA has awarded over 1,900 grants worth nearly $3.5 million total from 2002 through 2013.
2004  Youth Service Institute Prepares Partners for GYSD
In 2004, YSA hosted the first Youth Service Institute to train GYSD Lead Agencies and convene GYSD partners. Over the years, the Institute has traveled to Washington, DC (2004, 2005, 2009), New Orleans (2006), San Diego (2007), Orlando (2008), Detroit (2010), Philadelphia (2011), and Houston (2012). In 2013, the 10th Annual Youth Service Institute will convene in Baltimore on Nov. 11–13.
2008  Semester of Service Builds on Global Youth Service Day
In 2008, YSA launched Semester of Service, an extended service-learning framework through which students apply what they are learning in the classroom to address real-world needs in their communities. Semester of Service  links national service events – such as MLK Day of Service, Global Youth Service Day, or 9/11 Day of Service – through a “semester” of at least 70 hours over 12-14 weeks.
2011-2016  25th Anniversaries & First Lady Michelle Obama
As YSA celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama became the Honorary Chair of Global Youth Service Day. She continued to serve in that role each year through 2016.

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