Service Year Champions in Higher Education

There are many ways that universities could embrace the service year and play a leadership role in realizing the Franklin Project’s vision of making the service year a common opportunity, common expectation and new civic rite of passage for young people growing up in America.

The ideas below represent initial ideas of actions universities could take to increase service year participation at their campuses.


  • Create a university-based service year program. Develop a program at your university for your students to spend a year engaged in full-time national service working to address unmet societal needs. Programs could take place before (i.e. a “bridge service year”), during (i.e. “a junior service year abroad” or “capstone service year”) or after the traditional university experience (i.e. “a post-graduation service year fellowship").

  • Link service years to academic credit. Design new pathways that map the skills and competencies gained through a service year to courses offered at your institution and award appropriate credit. Coming soon: Accept course credit service year members earned using the Service Year Exchange and CAEL’s portfolio assessment.

  • Formalize deferrals for service year participants. Create policies that allow admitted students that have also been accepted to a service year program to defer their matriculation for a year. Promote this option to admitted students, develop mentorship and reflection opportunities for participating students, and develop ways to integrate the students’ experiences into their learning.

  • Value service year experience in the admissions process. Design methods to capture applicant service year experience in the admissions process, value it in candidate consideration, and indicate in admissions literature that it is seen as a plus.

  • Recognize service year experience through financial aid. Create special scholarships for service year alumni and/or join the 120 universities that already match the AmeriCorps Education Award.

  • Encourage service year participation through career services. Identify career services members that can become “service year experts,” highlight service years in career advising, select a common reading book related to service years and/or host campus events that feature service year programs and university alumni that have done a service year.

  • Join the Employers of National Service Initative. Value service year experience in your faculty and staff hiring by adding language that service year experience is viewed as a plus to your job descriptions or by adding questions about service year experience to your job applications.

  • Conduct research on the value of the service year. Support university researchers studying the impact of the service year on the community, the civic health of the nation, the service year participant and the university experience.



Leading higher education institutions have accepted the challenge and have incorporated national service into the student experience. They have done so by adopting at least one of the ideas listed above. The Franklin Project recognizes these leaders as "Service Year Champions in Higher Education."


Service Year Champions in Higher Education


Tufts University Tulane University
University Of Pennsylvania  College of William & Mary
Drake University Curtis Institute of Music
Miami-Dade College University of California, Hastings College of Law
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth Dartmouth College 

If you would like to become a Service Year Champion in Higher Education, fill out our interest form here



Highlights from some of our Champions include...

An op-ed piece from Scott Cowen, President Emeritus of Tulane University, about the impact of national service at Tulane post-Hurricane Katrina and his subsequent institution-wide embrace of the movement.


A celebration for the launch of Tufts University's 1+4 Program, which places first-year undergraduates at local service organizations a year prior to the start of their traditional four year studies.


Taylor Reveley, Franklin Project Leadership Council Member and President of the College of William and Mary, recounts how he came to embrace the idea of coupling national service and higher education.


Assistant Vice President at the College of William and Mary, Drew Stelljes, calls for institutions to not only live up to the commitment of created engaged citizens, but to also be innovative in doing so.


In partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship, The Franklin Project hosted the Service Year + Higher Innovation Challenge at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC and awarded $100,000 in prizes.


Drake University, Miami-Dade College, and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, winners of the Service Year + Higher Innovation Challenge, detail their proposals and participation in the competition.