Learn and Serve Tampa, Inc., a 501 (3)(c) not-for-profit organization, strives to bring quality service-learning into local K-12 schools and make service-learning projects and programs readily available to Tampa-area K-12 students. Our goal is to create a sustainable and institutionalized service-learning hub for training, funding, and support for a dedicated network of educators, community service organizations, and altruistic-minded business leaders in Tampa.
Learn and Serve Tampa, Inc. represents a teacher-driven initiative to make service-learning projects a reality for local K-12 students. Kristy Verdi, founder and president of this not-for-profit, has been using service-learning as an instructional strategy in her social studies classrooms since 1999 and taught a middle school service-learning course for 8 years based on a curriculum of her design. Her experiences have revealed the need for a support system for teachers who wish to use service-learning in their classrooms. By connecting classrooms to causes and the community that wants to support them, we can bring life to lessons and see the real purpose of learning.
In 2020, after the COVID-19 shutdown, the idea to start a nonprofit became a reality. By August 2021, Learn and Serve Tampa Inc received our IRS Determination Letter
Learn and Serve Tampa Inc is in compliance with the Department of Agriculture and is allowed to Solicit for Donations. We have successfully applied for project-specific grant funding through Youth Service America (YSA), Whole Foods Foundation, Roots and Shoots Foundation, and Digital Lift. The current capacity of this organization has been self-funded, with small donations from friends, family, and supporters who recognize the impact of our mission. In 2021, our total assets did not exceed $1500. An IRS Form 990 e-postcard was submitted for 2021.
What's with the ray?
A long, long time ago, in a middle school way out in Lithia, Florida, a teacher asked a principal if she could start a service-learning club. The club blossomed into a 6th grade elective "on the wheel" called Think, Learn, and Serve. A few enthusiastic "graduates" wanted to keep doing service-learning and came up with an idea. Over the summer, the students and the teacher met and came up with the name Randall Area Youth Service Council (R.A.Y.S.). As human brains will differ, some of us had the rays of the summer sun in mind. Others had a stingray in mind. The students took a vote. And, now you know.
The elective expanded to include a 7th and 8th grade service-learning leadership course that trained students to scout out community needs and plan service projects to help address those needs. From 2010 until 2018, the R.A.Y.S. program involved student leaders in planning and doing many quality service-learning projects. Many of those students are still engaged in service and are leaders in their places of business, college or high school campuses, and neighborhoods and communities. That blue ray reminds this teacher of what kids can do!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Hillsborough County Elementary Teacher
Middle School Teacher
Media Center Specialist
Middle School Teacher