Founded in 1983, YSOP is a non-profit organization rooted in the Quaker principals of integrity, equality, community, simplicity, and peace. Through our Workcamps, which embody the importance of both experience and reflection, we offer unique programs where our participants learn about a serious problem and leave with a sense of responsibility to serve actively in their communities. YSOP was founded in the same spirit as the original international Workcamp movement which began in the 1930’s – the idea of a broad movement of people of different faiths, countries, races, vocational and class backgrounds who would work together in service.
YSOP engages youth, college students and adults in meaningful service experiences through an innovative program that combines an orientation to the issues, hands-on volunteer work and reflection. Using orientation and reflection to frame their service experiences, YSOP inspires our participants to broaden their perspectives and become engaged citizens.
YSOP is a Quaker organization, grounded in Quaker values of respect for each individual, simplicity and service. Our programs are non-sectarian. We welcome people of every faith and belief system, including people who don’t ascribe to any faith. YSOP is a nationally recognized leader in providing high-quality volunteer service-learning experiences in metropolitan areas (currently New York City and Washington, DC).
YSOP has been a pioneer in the field of service, leading thousands of youth and adults in service programs to encourage community participation and engaged citizenship through direct and indirect service to our society’s most vulnerable populations. Each year, over 4,000 volunteers participate in our programs and serve more than 500,000 people experiencing homelessness and hunger.
Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP) - What We Do
YSOP hosts one-day, overnight and weeklong programs for middle school, high school and college students. All programs include orientation, service and reflection. Our program is guided by trained YSOP staff who are responsible for the programming and supervision of the participants. Adult participants also mentor student participants. YSOP programs begin with a detailed orientation, which includes a discussion about volunteering and the populations YSOP serves and helps students prepare for the day. We also emphasize measures to assure the safety of all participants.
The group is divided into smaller teams with adult leaders, typically 5-10 people. Each day, the teams travel on foot or by public transportation to service agencies across the city who serve the needs of low income, homeless and hungry communities. YSOP carefully and regularly monitors all worksites to ensure that the sites are organized and safe, that YSOP volunteers are utilized efficiently, and that everyone is treated with respect. All YSOP programs also include a reflection after each service experience. Experienced YSOP staff lead the group in various activities where participants can share their impressions of the day and explore the root causes of the issues.
Participants are encouraged to think of ways they can connect the YSOP service experience to their daily lives. A YSOP Workcamp is a great way to serve and connect with those in need. Workcamps can be an effective way to kick off a program or educational initiative, build team spirit, enhance student leadership, give direction to a group, unify a diverse set of individuals, or bring a year to a meaningful close. Participants learn about the lives of those most neglected by our society and learn about the issues facing our community today.