This unique service learning program was created out of a desire to give students throughout Tulare County the opportunity to serve both their schools and community.
How long has there been a Step Up Youth Challenge?
The Challenge has been in existence in its current form since 2011 featuring Middle Schools in 2011-12 and then both high school and middle schools in 2012-13.
Who is eligible to participate?
All middle and high schools in Tulare County, public and private.
How can a school participate?
Recruitment for schools to participate begins in August of each year. In order to participate in the Challenge, Advisors from each school must attend a mandatory Advisor training in September and all students must attend a Challenge training (Summit) that is usually held in October of each year.
How many members are allowed on a team?
Each team is comprised of up to 10 members with each team having the option of an additional 10 alternates.
What is the timeframe of the Challenge?
The Challenge starts in September with the Advisor training, Summit in October, Challenge project from October-April and final awards usually at the end of April or early May.
What types of projects have been completed?
We understand youth has the ability to be creative and all Challenge teams are encouraged to be creative in addressing a real school and community needs. Examples of past projects include:
Outreach to homeless within a school’s community as well as reaching in to serve students whose families are struggling financially.
Creating an anti-bullying campaign to inspire students to take a stand.
Creating a community action club that addressed important issues around their community: graffiti abatement, community clean up, and creating a school garden.
Adopting an animal shelter with the idea of kindness starts with animals: if students can treat a kitten or puppy with kindness, they can do the same with their peers.
Creating a positive physical fitness and nutrition program, equating healthy choices with self esteem development.
How are the projects evaluated?
Final projects are evaluated on the basis of the following five key elements of Service Learning:
Meets a real school or community need
Coordinates with a community agency, another school, a business, or the community at large.
Helps foster civic responsibility
Impact on the school and community
Do High Schools and Middle Schools compete against each other?
Middle schools and high schools compete separately and awards will be given in the following categories:
Overall ($5,000): For the project that demonstrates excellence in all five components
Impact ($2,500): For the project that has the most significant impact on the school or community.
Innovation ($2,500): For the most creative or original project.
Meet the Need ($2,500): For the project that best identifies and meets a school or community need.
Sustainability ($2,500): For the project that will either be sustained long-term in the original school, or can easily be replicated in other schools and communities.
Note: The Step Up Executive Committee reserves the right to award grants according to merit and based on desired outcomes.
When is funding released?
Once winners of the grants are announced, funding is released within a month of the awards event.