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Tips for Creating Your Own Service-Learning Tipping Point. Presentation by Nelda Brown, Executive Director of the National Service-Learning Partnership at the Academy for Educational Development.

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tips for creating your own service learning tipping point

Tips for Creating Your Own Service-Learning Tipping Point

Presentation by Nelda Brown, Executive Director of the

National Service-Learning Partnership at the Academy for Educational Development

getting serious about advancing service learning
The Partnership’s mission is to make service-learning a core part of the life and education of all young people

But if we are serious about achieving this mission, what is it going to take to achieve?

What would it really take to make service-learning a universal experience for all young people?

Getting Serious about Advancing Service-Learning
Whether it be all young people nationwide, in your state, in your school, or on neighborhood block…

We must make service-learning a social epidemic or phenomenon.

And you can start right in your own backyard.

WHO? What type of people need to be involved?
  • WHY? Why are these type of people important?
  • WHAT? What should these people do to help you promote, expand, or sustain service-learning?
demystifying the tipping point in malcolm gladwell s own words
Demystifying the Tipping Point: In Malcolm Gladwell’s Own Words
  • “…ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics.”
  • “One child brings in the virus. It spreads to every other child in the class in a matter of days…That's typical behavior for epidemics: they can blow up and then die out really quickly, and even the smallest change -- like one child with a virus -- can get them started.”
  • “My argument is that it is also the way that change often happens in the rest of the world. Things can happen all at once, and little changes can make a huge difference.”
  • “In Chapter Two, I talk about the central role that three personality types--that I call Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen-- play in social epidemics.”
  • “One of the things I'd like to do is to show people how to start "positive" epidemics of their own. The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly.”
  • Excerpted from Visit Gladwell’s website to read the full Q&A.
  • Read excerpts from Gladwell’s book for more information.
what are the implications for service learning advocates
What are the Implications for Service-Learning Advocates?

Three personality types play a central role in creating social epidemics




These three types of people do little things that ultimately make a BIG difference


Creating Your Own Tipping PointThe Connector

  • Famous Connectors in History
  • Paul Revere. His ride was effective because he had a wide-range of contacts along the countryside. Rather than crying out in the dark, he knew exactly whom to inform and where to find them.
  • Kevin Bacon. There’s a reason why you can name almost any actor and link him or her to Kevin Bacon in six degrees or less. He’s known as one of the most “connected” modern actors because he’s played a roles in several movies that span from a variety of genres, and with people from multiple ages and backgrounds.
  • Connectors…
  • know lots of people and have an extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances; and
  • have the ability to span many different worlds and are connected to many different types of people.

Creating Your Own Tipping PointThe Maven

  • Mavens…
  • Yiddish expression meaning “one who accumulates knowledge”
  • Have information on a lot of different products, prices, or places and know things the rest of us don’t
  • Connect us with new information and likes to initiate discussions and respond to requests; are information brokers
  • Famous Mavens in History
  • Al Gore. Remember Al before he was cool? He often spoke at length about global warming and the Internet. Very few understood it and even more made fun of him because of it. Entire Saturday Night Live® sketches were written about it. But when the public began to care about climate change and “being green,” Vice-President Gore’s wealth of knowledge and PowerPoint archives inspired an Oscar®-winning film.

Creating Your Own Tipping PointThe Salesman & Saleswoman

  • Salespeople…
  • Have the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing
  • Often described as expressive, charismatic, and “mesmerizing”
  • Famous Salespeople in History
  • Oprah Winfrey. If I go to a movie or buy a book, it’s usually because Oprah “told me” to do it. I’ve never met her—and probably never will—but she feels like family and for this reason, I trust her opinion. Heck—she’s the person who convinced me to buy The Tipping Point
let s pause for a moment
Let’s Pause for a Moment
  • Reflect on the key players of Gladwell’s Theory
    • Can you identify the Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople in your school or community?
    • Which roles/personality types best describe you?
Okay...Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople

Pretty basic concept, right?

So, now what?

How can you put this theory into action to build support for service-learning in your own school or community?

Simple Ways to Translate Theory Into ActionWhat Connectors Can Do

  • Expand our circle of friendsby daring to engage new and unusual suspects.
  • Come in through another door and connect to the other groups or issues “Influentials” care about.
  • Expand advisory groups & boards
  • Start an email update list
  • How the National Service-Learning Partnership can help:
  • Access hot topic PowerPoints at:

Simple Ways to Translate Theory Into ActionWhat Mavens Can Do

  • Get smart about how we’re organizing our information.
  • Create a local clearinghouse of information.
  • Create LOCAL fact sheets to capture data about impact, student participation, and program models.
  • Provide easy start-up materials
  • Utilize existing materials about how service-learning supports the objectives of No Child Left Behind.

Simple Ways to Translate Theory Into ActionWhat Salespeople Can Do

  • WHAT:join others around the country for a week of special events and outreach activities to raise public awareness and build support for service-learning
  • WHEN:October 6-12, 2008
  • WHY:to build awareness by:
    • Kicking-off upcoming service-learning activities in your school or community
    • Celebrating past service-learning accomplishments
    • Engaging key decision-makers
    • Expanding your network of supporters
for more information
So, I tried to summarize what is usually an hour-long presentation into 15 PowerPoint slides or less.

I’m over by 2 slides!

If you’d like to continue exploring or discussing these topics further, here are a few ways we can stay in touch:

1. Visit SLYPN’s online community and join the Nonprofit Management affinity group

2. Check the Service-Learning Blog for a soon-to-be posted series of “Tipping Point” commentary and insights:

3. Leave a message for me via the SLYPN Online Community message system. Username: nelda

These are all great ways to share your thoughts, reactions, and questions as well as to see what others think!

For more information:
contact information
Contact information:

National Service-Learning Partnership

at the Academy for Educational Development

1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20009