One of the highest levels of public service invites us to honor individuals for serving their own communities. With a strong commitment to this principle, the Public Service Institute of Nevada, which operates as PublicServiceNV, was established in 2014. PublicServiceNV is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt NonProfit Organization. PublicServiceNV engages, supports, and recognizes individuals in Nevada whose contributions enrich their communities.
Each generation, however defined, has at least one social responsibility: to grow and sustain communities that are healthy, vital, and connected. The skills of growing and nurturing substantial and vibrant communities can be learned. These learners can teach in inclusionary and stimulating ways the power of civic engagement in diverse populations and communities. Who has the greatest potential for elevating civic engagement? Our youth.
Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately one in four teenagers, 16 to 19, participates in volunteerism, PublicServiceNV trusts the power of young people. This is why PublicServiceNV is inspired by its goal: to motivate Nevada youth to engage in meaningful and enduring civic engagement activities and opportunities that produce powerful outcomes for their communities.
To accomplish the goal of expanding youth involvement and leadership in community service, PublicServiceNV launched the Gratitude Awards Program. This distinctive program collaborates with the Clark County School District (CCSD), Communities in Schools Academy, Leaders in Training Program, Nevada Collaboratory, Public Education Foundation and Teach for America.
During development of the Gratitude Awards Program, PublicServiceNVBoard members met with Faculty Champions and 147 students at five CCSD high schools. During these visits, students shared their ideas about civic engagement and completed a survey (a first-ever survey of this kind with area youth). Survey results were essential in developing the Gratitude Awards Program. For example, students determined the top five categories in which they prefer to enter a project or activity: Animal Welfare; Education; Health and Wellness; Human Kindness; and Public Safety and Justice. Within each category, three recipient sub-categories (an individual; a team of 2 to 10; and a team of 11 or more) are recognized. Those students who do not receive a Gratitude Award, but successfully submit a project, receive a PublicServiceNV “Certificate of Contribution.”
When students are motivated by the Serve.Learn.Inspire. Civic Engagement Education Program to participate in the Gratitude Awards Program, they have the opportunity to earn a Gratitude Award. Such as honor allows students to benefit from being:
- Recognized with certificates during a PublicServiceNV awards ceremony at their schools.
- Acknowledged, along with their Faculty Champions, on PublicServiceNV.org for their vital contributions to their communities.
- Rewarded financially by directing PublicServiceNV donations, in their names, to area nonprofits and/or schools.
- Honored in the Gratitude Awards Digest, which is uploaded to PublicServiceNV.org and distributed to CCSD and other education decision makers.