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Guest Post: LearnServe International

Today’s post comes from LearnServe International, whose programs spark high school students’ passion to make a difference and equips them with the knowledge, tools, and relationships to effectively drive local solutions to pressing global challenges. Bringing together students from across the DC area, LearnServe prepares them with the skills of business leadership, innovative problem-solving, and cross-cultural fluency. Then students are challenged to lead community-based change in their schools, across the DC region, and around the world.Empowering high-schoolers who have the motivation to make a difference, the Fellows Program guides them through the creation of their own “social venture.”

LearnServe Fellows Prepare to Speak Out

by Scott Rechler, Director & CEO, LearnServe International

When is the last time you saw someone teased, harassed, or picked on simply because of who they are? Did you recognize it as bullying? Stand up to the perpetrator? Console the person these attacks were directed towards?

Madison and Alichea, both students at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County, ask these questions every day. Both Madison and Alichea have seen bullying first-hand. And both are ready to do something about it.

In September we challenged Madison, Alichea, and the other 70 members of the 2014 class of LearnServe Fellows to articulate the injustices they witness or experience, that they would like to put an end to. As LearnServe Fellows, Madison and Alichea and their peers will spend the year developing business plans around their respective causes, then mobilize teams to get these “social ventures” off the ground.

Madison herself has been bullied. She knows the sting of teasing and intimidation, which she has endured for more than a year. She appreciates all that her school — through counseling and peer mediation — has done to address the problem. But she feels that students can also do more to support their classmates who have been targets of bullying.

Madison plans to create a peer-to-peer support network for targets of bullying and their allies. With additional guidance from the school’s counselor, students would support each other in working through some of the emotional effects of bullying.

Alichea, a member of Parkdale’s JROTC squad, sees it as her responsibility to intervene when she sees other classmates being bullied. She wonders why more students don’t step in. Do they see it all as a harmless joke? None of their business? They’re too afraid to respond? Or they simply don’t know what bullying looks like – and feels like – in all the forms it can take?

Alichea would like to help would-be bullies and would-be bystanders better understand what bullying is and why it must stop. Through school outreach she hopes to shed light on bullying at her school and build a network of allies ready to step in and stop it as it happens.

Each year, the LearnServe Fellows Program offers leadership and social entrepreneurship training to 70 high school students like Madison and Alichea – students who represent more than 30 public, private, and charter schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. LearnServe guides these students as they translate the causes they are most passionate about into community impact.

LearnServe invites you to meet Madison, Alichea, and the other members of the 2014 class of LearnServe Fellows as they debut their social venture ideas at the 7th Annual Innovators Coffee House, tomorrow, December 12, 2013. The LearnServe Fellows will offer a series of 30-second “elevator pitches” on the causes they have chosen to address and the solutions they plan to design and implement this spring.

For more information about the LearnServe Fellows Program visit

For details or to RSVP for the 7th Annual Innovators Coffee House, visit

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