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It’s 2021–22 application season for the Young Adult Volunteer program

Apply by Jan. 1, 2021, for early placement at sites within the U.S. and around the world

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

Meet some of the 2020-21 virtual YAVs. From top left to lower right: Victoria Alexander, Alex Banning, Sarah Bleile, Sarah Bridges, Teressa Cooper, Grace Fulda, Emma Kate Lander, Jaelyn Beal and Cassie Oliver. (Photo collage by Jeffrey Lawrence)

LOUISVILLE — The 2021–22 Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) application season opened Oct. 1. Access the online application here.

For nearly 30 years, the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been instrumental in helping 19- to 30-year-olds experience a year of service at sites within the U.S. and around the world.

The YAV program is for all Christian young adults, not exclusively Presbyterians, in the belief that people are called and equipped by God for service in many forms. Since the early 1990s, more than 1,700 young adults have participated in a year of service at 45 different sites in 19 countries.

Although the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a travel ban in place through June 30, 2021, staff are stepping out on faith and making plans for an “in-person” YAV year of service in 2021–22 (August to August), exploring possibilities for a virtual orientation and partial virtual year.

A past group of Albuquerque Young Adult Volunteers on a hike at Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center. (Photo by Luke Rembold)

“YAV has always helped young adults explore Christian formation in an intentional community setting, and we plan to do that again in the 2021–22 YAV year,” said Destini Hodges, interim coordinator of the YAV program. “Although our world is facing uncertain times due to COVID-19, we are fully exploring all possibilities for incoming YAVs to engage in a ‘year of service, for a lifetime of change’ (the YAV mantra). We will work in partnership with our site coordinators, denominational leaders and other stakeholders to determine the best plan moving forward.”

Benefits during the year of service include a regular stipend, housing, coverage of all program-related transportation costs and student-loan assistance through the Season of Service Loan Assistance program. The SSLA program provides a quarterly direct payment to the YAV’s student loan servicer equal to $250 per month of service, helping pay down a student loan by up to $3,000 for a year of service.

During a year of service, YAVs accompany local agencies working to address reconciliation and the root causes of poverty and injustice. They serve in communities of need, practice simple living, explore vocational discernment, and — along with peers and mentors — discover new things about themselves, their faith and the world around them.

The YAV program is a PC(USA) Matthew 25 ministry focusing on three areas:

  • Building congregational vitality
  • Dismantling structural racism
  • Eradicating systemic poverty

Learn more about the Matthew 25 focus areas at

The applicant, the site coordinator and the YAV staff work together through a mutual discernment interview process for the placement of each YAV. Candidates are encouraged to enter the discernment process with an open mind and consider all sites (nationally and internationally) before narrowing their options. The program works with local partners to ensure each YAV’s safety throughout the year, including detailed contingency plans.

International sites: Colombia, Scotland, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Zambia

National sites: Albuquerque, Asheville, Austin, Boston, Chinook, New Orleans, New York City, Tucson, Washington, D.C.

Important Dates

  • Oct. 1, 2020 — Applications open
  • Jan. 1, 2021 — Round 1 — All sites available, early placement
  • March 1, 2021 — Round 2 — Most sites available, final date to apply to international sites
  • June 1, 2021 — Round 3 — National sites only, limited spots available, final date to apply to national sites

Plans may change based on the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. Check for updates at

Watch a brief video on the YAV program here. Apply to serve as a YAV here.

How the YAV program began
One of Presbyterian World Mission’s partners in Asia and the Pacific, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), was instrumental in the creation of the YAV program. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was developing new partnership-based models of mission engagement, the Philippines was a strong partner in advocating for a clear, local voice in discerning, crafting and directing God’s mission.

A Filipino bishop from the UCCP approached PC(USA) leaders with an idea. He pointed out that for years, partnership had been understood in the classical paradigm of “donor,” “recipient,” and “money.” But because of the vast economic disparity between the U.S. and the Philippines, the country had suffered shame as a perpetual recipient. He went on to say, with a twinkle in his eye, “But we do have something to offer this partnership. We have faith. We have a faith informed by simple living and our struggles for justice and peace.”

With that honest invitation, and with much discernment by a passionate group of leaders, volunteers and mission workers, the YAV program was conceived. From its beginning it has been rooted in partnership and has placed emphasis on the formation of volunteers as lifelong leaders.

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