Powered By Service Empowers Youth To Lead Communities

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When given the opportunity to inspire and motivate, I believe anything is possible. Today's youth have the power to be leaders as they use service to create change in their communities or halfway around the world. I am proud to serve as president of Usher's New Look (UNL), a nonprofit organization supporting youth using their creativity and talents to become corporate and community leaders.

To accomplish this vision, our organization launched Powered By Service at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative. The goal of Powered By Service is to increase the diversity, relevance and accessibility of service by mobilizing 5 million youth who will ultimately touch the lives of 50 million individuals.

Most recently, Powered By Service provided 18-year-old Brandon Hamilton of Atlanta, GA, the opportunity to use his talent as a student leader and athlete to help his community. With a $500 Powered By Service grant, Brandon will help the Atlanta flood victims by leading his high school, Cross Keys, in collecting donations during Homecoming Week, October 12-16.

"I believe this project will become a new movement in my community, and empower others. There is so much we can do in our communities and so many people in need. It all starts with the youth," said Hamilton. "I am proud to say that I am Powered By Service and I encourage every teen in America to find a cause that directly affects them and use their talents and skills to change the world."

Hamilton is a prime example of Powered By Service and is a role model for all youth. Many people agree that service is a valuable activity to become involved in -- especially for young people. However, there is a large misconception of what service really is.

Service is often only characterized as random acts of charity or volunteerism. Some young people only experience service as something a teacher or a judge forces them to do. In reality, service is the most powerful way people can use their talents to shape their communities. Young people are filled with the creative instincts necessary for service leaders. Once we unleash the power of youth service we will discover an abundance of solutions to the world's most pressing problems. We can and must inspire all young people to be powered by service.

Powered By Service is providing $500 grants to seed youth-led service projects in six target communities including Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Detroit and New Orleans. Youth can plan a project to address any issue whether it is homelessness, the environment, global health, gang violence or education. Powered By Service supports the many calls to action and service that have surfaced, but takes the call one step further by equipping youth with the tools they need to create real change.

Youth ages 12 through 20 are eligible to apply for a $500 Powered By Service grant by logging onto

Shawn Wilson supports the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s iParticipate campaign, which encourages Americans to volunteer in their communities.