Many service learning projects do not require external funding. Community members often willingly donate supplies, and beginning grade school projects involve minimal if any expense. Existing systems of support with matching mission values, such as AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps, would be a natural fit with a K–12 service learning curriculum.
While voluntary community participation and support for the initiative has its merits, federal funding is appropriate, as service learning outcomes directly address many relevant issues brought to the federal level for support and solution. Participation in K-6 projects, substantiated by documented outcomes from partnering community-based organizations, could be rewarded with federal funding for more-involved, higher-level service learning projects on the national checklist.
As with any grassroots initiative, people and inspiration are the fuel. We continue to learn from projects in developing areas of the world that ownership among community members is critical. Readily accessible projects with specific tasks allow community members to identify a contribution they can make that fits with their lives, budgets, or areas of expertise.
As the initiative starts, support will come from our families, schools, service organizations, churches, and businesses. We have the manpower among ourselves, and we have the supply; we simply need to organize and distribute.
Some communities can afford materials for an elementary grade project while others may not. Some projects will take off quickly and easily, while others will grow slowly. Some projects may not meet local needs, while others may generate excess. If a project is up and running well in our community, the decision can be made to reach out and give our excess to a location where others are struggling to meet a severe need.
As our children come together nationally to share statistics, they will see distribution of wealth; their altruistic capabilities, still well supported in early grades, will naturally suggest outreach when they have excess; they will want to see the balances readjust. They will clearly see—and the model will help them—that need can be met with excess and that we can reach out not only in our own communities or to a global sister city but to national areas of need, strengthening the fabric of peer relationships nationwide.
Companies willing to donate supplies or funds are additional sources of funding. With all our children working together and submitting their outcomes to a national database, pockets of greatest need will become clearer to all, allowing companies to donate to these areas of greatest need more quickly and efficiently.