The Birmingham Youth Service Corps began in 1998 as an urban service camp on the streets of downtown Birmingham with the goals of bringing young people of all backgrounds downtown, engaging them in service and community work, and creating an open community of young people committed to having a voice in the city. Since that summer, the Birmingham Youth Service Corps has hosted one camp a year and half of the original participants from that first year have returned each year, insistent that more could be done. In 2002 that dream was realized and the Birmingham Youth Service Corps became a year-round nonprofit organization and to this day, it stays true to its four cornerstones: service, communication, expression and community.
First Look began as a program of a larger nonprofit and became an independent nonprofit in 1998. By taking an approach to service learning that integrates closely with schools and school curricula, First Look has become a recognized leader in youth volunteer service in Alabama. In addition, First Look brings with it the Social Change program, a youth-led grant making body, in which youth representatives from across the city have each year accepted, evaluated and awarded $25,000 worth of grants to local nonprofits.
In 2004, recognizing that the two organizations had complementing yet not overlapping programs, the Birmingham Youth Service Corps and First Look merged to become YouthServe, Inc. With the birth of YouthServe, Inc. a young person can get their “first look” at service through the high school program and then can plug into year-round BYSC community service projects. Together the two programs give young people the necessary tools to make positive differences in their homes, their schools, their neighborhoods and their city.
In classrooms – the organization teaches Service Education curriculum in Birmingham schools. This program allows youth to explore their roles and relationships within their community.
In the Community – The organization’s Community Action program collaborates with organizations in Birmingham in order to clean up rivers, build affordable housing, deliver fresh vegetables to the needy, and more!
Urban Service Camp – They host 3 sessions of one-week-long summer camps in order to engage youth in community service and team building activities.
Youth Leadership - YouthServe boast two councils, one in service and one in philanthropy, to offer youth the opportunity to take charge of making their own change in the community. The academic year commitment opens in late spring with all positions filled by the time school starts.