Community

United Way introduces varsity letter in community service for Snohomish County high school students

Student volunteers in Snohomish County will be now recognized in much the same way that student athletes in baseball, football, soccer and other sports are recognized through a new program organized by United Way of Snohomish County.

The Varsity Letter in Community Service will recognize students who make a significant commitment of time and energy improving our community. Once a school district or high school signs up for the program, United Way will verify 100 percent of all submitted volunteer hours and will award the letters in coordination with each school.

"We are excited about this opportunity to recognize and honor student volunteers," said Dennis G. Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County. "Eventually, we want every teen volunteer to know their contribution to our community is valued and respected."

Supporters of the program believe that offering a Varsity Letter will also encourage students to increase their volunteer work in the community.

"If the Varsity Letter had been available when I was starting high school, I probably would have started volunteering much earlier than I actually did," said Ivan Simon, a recent graduate of Everett high school. Ivan started volunteering in the middle of his junior year and has volunteered at over 20 events with United Way's Youth United program. This summer, Ivan will be an intern with United Way's student group, Youth United.

Everett School District and Snohomish High School are the first two partners in this United Way program.

Over the past year, over 400 teen volunteers spent a total of 2,145 hours doing various volunteer projects with Youth United throughout Snohomish County. They worked at local food banks, helped at elementary schools and senior centers, and participated in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Although the Varsity Letter in Community Service is new to Snohomish County, it is modeled after a successful program started in Pierce County 10 years ago – the first in the nation. This past school year United Way of Pierce County awarded over 550 varsity letters to deserving students in Pierce County.

Students in Snohomish County will earn a Varsity Letter in Community Service by:

  1. Completing and submitting the Varsity Letter in Community Service 2012-13 application on or before May 1, 2013.
  2. Being a student in a Snohomish County high school that offers a Varsity Letter in Community Service.
  3. Completing at least 145 hours of community service (which cannot include hours used to fulfill graduation or class credit requirements) between May 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013.
  4. Completing at least 50 of the 145 hours of community service in non-school-related volunteering opportunities (i.e. 50 hours should be at a nonprofit or civic service setting).
  5. Participating in at least one school-related activity (no hours requirement).
  6. Securing verification of volunteer hours from United Way of Snohomish County (United Way verifies 100 percent of submitted volunteer hours).
  7. Meeting the 2.0 GPA requirement.

For more information on the program, please visit http://www.uwsc.org/varsityletter.php. School administrators interested in offering the Varsity Letter in Community Service should contact Amy Franklin, Youth United Coordinator at youthunited@uwsc.org or 425.374.5526.

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