An initiative of the Student Body of America Association, Project Pay It Forward supports positive youth development by promoting volunteerism and facilitating character education. Project Pay It Forward works toward these goals by providing grant opportunities to help fund youth volunteer projects, in addition to offering free educational resources to students in grades six through 12.
Project Pay It Forward offers a character education curriculum to students, educators, youth organizations, and after-school programs free of charge. Materials focus on the development of positive traits such as empathy, kindness, and altruism. They also include a strong focus on youth volunteerism, which Project Pay It Forward promotes as an effective way for students to not only give back to their communities, but also to increase their own self-esteem. Furthermore, the organization encourages youth volunteerism as a useful tool for helping students to strengthen their sense of community and discover their own unique skills and potential.
Project Pay It Forward’s character education curriculum draws on research suggesting that character education can lead to improved academic performance, decision making, and problem solving; aid students’ social development; and help them become responsible citizens. While focused on fostering positive personal and social development, the nonprofit initiative’s character education program also seeks to prevent negative behaviors such as school violence and i drug use. For this reason, Project Pay It Forward focuses on engaging youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who may otherwise not have access to character development opportunities. Project Pay It Forward has also found that youth in this demographic are less likely to believe in the transformative power of volunteerism, and it works accordingly to prove to these audiences that they too can make a difference.