The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)’s global volunteer program, ADRA Connections, is launching a new service scholarship. The initiative will allow thousands of young people in the U.S. to be more active through volunteerism and become agents of change to contribute to the development of communities abroad.
“We want to challenge the new generation of young people to be more involved in service, so they have a greater understanding of the needs of communities around the world, experience new ways to help others and become changemakers,” said ADRA Connections manager Adam Wamack.
ADRA Connections expects to provide 350 to 400 scholarships each year from 2019 to 2023 to help young adults cover some of the costs related to volunteer service overseas. Scholarships will range from US$500 to $1,200 depending on the type of project and the country where the project takes place.
ADRA International, which oversees ADRA Connections and the scholarship program, is a global non-profit organization and is the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The organization carries out projects around the world, ensuring that initiatives are sustainable and include community support and participation.
To qualify for a one-time scholarship, applicants must be enrolled at a university or high school in any of the 50 states in the U.S.; be 25 years old or younger; submit a short application; and describe why they are interested in volunteering.
Leaders of young adult groups from churches, high schools, academies and outdoor and sporting groups who fit the requirements listed above are also eligible to apply.
What Volunteers Do
ADRA Connections volunteers carry out projects that help children have better access to education and improve living conditions for families. Specifically, they may be involved in building schools, upgrading home kitchens, or installing solar panels in communities without electricity. They may also help farmers improve productivity. Volunteers are a key part of any project, as they help raise funds needed to carry out the projects and then travel to locations to assist with the work. Volunteers also have the opportunity to learn about development challenges and community needs.
ADRA Connections coordinates 10 to 15 trips each year, including a “mega-build” project called ADRA Connections Extreme during the summer season, which brings together hundreds of students from across the United States.
Volunteerism on the Decline
The ADRA Connections scholarship program aims to counter an ongoing decline in volunteerism among young adults. According to a recent study by the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, volunteering rates among individuals 25 and under continue to decline even though this age group expresses the most interest in volunteering of any group in the past 50 years. The report also highlights that high school and university-aged students have the lowest rate of volunteerism and that volunteerism by this group has been in decline and or remained stagnant since 2000. Volunteer rates have been the lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds, with women volunteering at higher rates than men, according to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics report on volunteering in the nation.
“Given the current decline in volunteerism, we want to re-energize young people and focus their interest in service,” Wamack said. “This will not only impact the lives of the people they will serve but will also transform the way they see the world around them.”