A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action
Last Revised: Sep 22, 2008 - Initial Posting: May 27, 2003

Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) offers a Youth Service Learning Program to reduce substance abuse and to build youth leadership abilities.


Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) created the Youth Service Learning Program that targets at-risk 4th grade students at one elementary school.  Students are recruited in collaboration with substance abuse agencies, the schools and local police. Funding support is through substance abuse prevention monies and the program is staffed by an Assistant Volunteer Coordinator.

Community service projects are conducted on school grounds, the surrounding neighborhood and the larger community.  Projects take place after school, on weekends and during school holidays.  Students work independently and in small teams.

Leadership development activities include:

  • Students are involved in the planning and organizing of community service activities.
  • Family activities are scheduled to involve the Service Learners with their families.

Service Learning Projects from 2002-2008 have included:

  • Adopt-a-Pet poster project allow students to spend time socializing with animals at the local animal rescue league.  Each student has their photo taken with a pet that is in need of adoption.  Photos are then made into a poster and posters are distributed around the community to promote the adoption the pets from the animal rescue league.
  • Family Service Night where students and their families prepare and serve a complete meal to residents of a homeless shelter.
  • Adopt-a-Grandparent Program to assist elderly residents of a retirement home - students make bi-weekly visits to the center to engage in arts & craft projects, seasonal events, share stories, and form memorable and lasting relationships with one another.
  • Beautification Project of an old abandoned store that was considered an eyesore by the community - scenes were painted based on the theme "Springing Into Service to Others" about different ways people can perform service (college art students and the high school Kiwanis Club helped complete the project).
  • Service Learners lead the Iowa House of Representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance during the Legislative session.
  • Providing and maintaining recycling boxes for teachers in their school.
  • Decorating a display case at school to describe the Service Learning group.
  • Helping organize items at a local clothing closet.
  • Mural paintings in local Habitat for Humanity home.
  • Adopt-A-Howay beautification project in Iowa.

Students are given Service Learning t-shirts and a Service Learner Update is published to offer recognition.  Media coverage has also been received.


Youth Service Learners contributed over 1,190 community service hours in 2007-2008.  The program addresses ROMA Goal #4: Partnerships Among Supporters and Providers of Services to Low Income People are Achieved.


Arlene McAtee, Executive Director