An Exploration of National Youth Service Policy in 17 Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean

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This exploratory study examines the emerging field of national youth service policy (NYSP) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The main premise behind policies that support community service is that when given an opportunity for meaningful involvement in society through service, youth take advantage. Well-designed service policies support programs that provide youth a forum for engaging in meaningful, pro-social activities, and in turn provide opportunities for the acquisition of skills and experience in collective action for community improvement. This study defines the core elements and characteristics of national policies that involve young people in community service and volunteerism. Next, the study examines the responses of experts in LAC regarding NYSP and movements toward NYSP in 17 countries. Results report that 8 of 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have a NYSP, and these policies come in many forms, configurations, and models. Results further demonstrate that movements often exist in LAC even when countries have no such NYSP. Facilitators and obstacles of these policies and movements are discussed and the paper concludes by discussing emerging themes.


Brett Alessi, Edward Metz, Gustavo Smith, Susan Stroud

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