Amanda Mansfield, Super-Star at Bright Light Volunteers, Celebrated

A fierce and devoted advocate for promoting cross cultural peace and understanding, Amanda Mansfield has served as a BLV participant & allumn, admin volunteer, admin assistant, Director of Operations, Program Coordinator, and overall “Nonprofit Management Badass.” 

Amanda is stepping down from her main duties at Bright Light Volunteers in order to fulfil her goal of becoming a full time Graduate Assistant at the University of Tennessee at Martin. 

She will be very missed during our day-to-day operations, but we are also excited to announce that Amanda has committed to continuing on as a key member of BLVs’ internal Fundraising & Grant Committee. 

Amanda, we celebrate you and honor your contributions to Bright Light Volunteers. Here’s to a beautiful and bright future!

“Cheers” from your team!

  • “Amanda was impressively efficient and effective! She always has such a great helpful attitude and is way organized which is awesome! Really bummed we are loosing her, but equally as excited for her new adventure…who knows. Maybe we can lure her back someday!” – Alex Van Dewark, Team BLV
  • “Amanda is an absolute gem. Her organization and communication is admirable and impressive. I love how much she genuinely believes in the goals of BLV and how she has supported the team. Losing Amanda breaks my heart, but I wish her the very best. She will always be a part of the BLV family.” – Amy Besnard, Team BLV
  • “Amanda’s contributions to BLV were as big as her heart. She tackled projects enthusiastically and never once complained. Her ‘get it done’ attitude and her smile will be missed!” – Alma, Team BLV
  • “I think that Amanda has been our ‘secret weapon’ as an organization. So much on goes on ‘behind-the-scenes’ at Bright Light Volunteers to make sure that our programs are safe, effective, and sustainable. Our success, to date, is in no small part a result of Amanda’s hard work and advocacy.” – Catherine Greenberg, Team BLV
  • “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss, Honorary Team BLV member.
18 All of our volunteers

Partnerships that Bring Lasting Impact with Stacie Freeman

Partnerships are best developed when two (or more) people or entities realize they can make a bigger impact by working together. This partnership, between Bethel University and Bright Light Volunteers is one of those. Stacie Freeman, shares her perspective on what’s gone well, as well as a couple of learning experiences.

Key points include:

  • Relationships Can Lead to Partnership Opportunities;
  • Volunteers Pay Their Own Way – and Contribute to Project Costs;
  • Avoiding Band-Aids and Striving for Lasting Impact;
  • More Than a Feel-Good Trip, It’s About Building Understanding of Complex Issues;
  • The Importance of Learning to Let Go to Let it Grow;
  • Recognizing Complementary Strengths in Your Partners;
  • Universities Can Be a Source for Volunteers and Other Help;
  • Define Your Dreams – and Follow Them.
Love is all you need!

Global Service Learning Leader Honored with GreatNonprofit’s Prestigious Top-Rated Award

Bright Light Volunteers announced that it has been honored with the prestigious 2019 Top- Rated Award by Great Nonprofits for the third time in a row. GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of third party reviews for nonprofit organizations, created their Top-Rated Award as a sort of people’s choice award for nonprofits, where volunteers, donors, and people served cast their vote in the form of a review to express their appreciation and help their favorite nonprofits win a spot on this coveted list. Read more here:

Top Nonprofit Honor- GreatNonprofits

Stacie Freeman & Catherine Greenberg

Global Citizenship Education for Title 1 Students in the Rural South

Via a unique partnership between Bright Light Volunteers (BLV) and our educational partner Bethel University (BU), BLV’s innovative approach to cultural immersion and global citizenship cultivation is being utilized to impact the lives of rural, southern, Title I high school students. We have conclusively shown that our programs, particularly our programs that serve high school students from the rural south, are having profound effect in improving retention and college acceptance rates through cultural immersion, international study and service initiatives.      

The global citizen is aware of the wider world, has a sense of their own role as a world leader, respects and values diversity, and participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global (Oxfam, 2015).  In our experience, global citizens and leaders are most successfully cultivated through high-quality, rigorous education coupled with sustainable-international service.  

Historically, Title I students in the rural south have had limited access to global citizenship education and to the multiple intellectual and social benefits of participation.  Therefore, a strategic alliance between Bright Light Volunteers, a global nonprofit organization, and Bethel University, a SACS accredited college of liberal arts, has been established to support the U.S. Department of Education’s Purpose for Title I schools, “improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged” by “closing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students and between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers.” (2004)    

Through this partnership,  64  Title I, high school students have enrolled in a Global Service Learning and Citizenship (GSLC) course at Bethel University for transferable college credit.  Upon completion of the course, they traveled to Cuba, Peru, and/or Costa Rica where they continued  learning concepts and skills necessary to function in a world that is increasingly interconnected and multicultural.  State-funded grants, such as the Tennessee Hope Scholarship, have helped fund tuition.  Private scholarships and sliding scale program fees have helped fund travel expenses.  The result is that rural, southern, Title I high school students are becoming first-generation college students and global citizens.  

These Gen Z students, also known as digital natives, expect their education to include technology-driven course work. By designing and delivering an online course, using the Canvas LMS, students learn the history and culture of the host country as well as the importance of becoming an ethical, global citizen.  Students in the course read scholarly articles and texts, watch timely documentaries, participate in academic discussion, and become familiar with the UN Global Goals.  They complete quizzes, create blogs, and write reflection essays.  Combined, these assignments are designed to prepare participants for their study abroad experience (decreasing culture shock) and ultimately, college.  While we believe in the power of technology to educate the next generation of global leaders, all our programs for Title I students are staffed by at least one secondary educator and one college professor.  All BLV staff and educators are extensively trained in Best Practices.  

Since the inception of the BU/BLV partnership, we have seen a 233% increase in the number of Title I participants.  100% of participants graduate from high school and attend college.  When asked, in online, post-GSLC surveys, to rate their knowledge of the historical, political, scientific, cultural, and socioeconomic interconnections between the USA and other parts of the world, 98% agreed that participation in the BU/BLV GSLC program had deepened their understanding.