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Chicago Public Schools defines service-learning as a teaching strategy that connects classroom curriculum with service projects. Service-learning engages students in projects that serve the community while building social, civic, and academic skills.

Service-learning is a teaching strategy, not an outcome. Service-learning is an opportunity for students to develop Common Core skills and 21st century skills (Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving) through project preparation and development, execution, and reflection.

Research indicates that when students participate in high quality service-learning, we see positive academic, social/emotional, and civic outcomes.

Service Learning Standards

Service Learning projects should meet the following standards of excellent practice:
  • Youth Voice
  • Meaningful Service
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Reflection
  • Community Partnerships
  • Progress Monitoring
  • Duration and Intensity
  • Diversity
Graduation Requirements & Classroom Projects

For the graduating classes of 2019 & 2018, students will need to complete a minimum of three (3) classroom-integrated service-learning projects or a total of 40 hours.

For the graduating classes of 2020 and beyond, students will need to complete a minimum of two (2) classroom-integrated service-learning projects: one service-learning project in a Civics or AP Government course and one additional classroom-integrated service-learning project.

All Scholars must complete an additional 40 individual hours over the course of four years.

Individual Hours

In order to receive Service Learning hours, students must turn in 3 documents:


There are 2 service learning deadlines each school year:
  • December 11, 2018
  • May 14, 2019
Summer and first semester hours must be received by the December deadline; hours completed after December 11th must be received by the May deadline. 

Restricted Service Activities

Students may not earn service-learning credit through the following:
  • Work with for-profit businesses and corporations (including daycare centers);
  • Work with religious organizations if the service involves promoting a particular faith;
  • Volunteer work where no academic objective is addressed;
  • Work that is financially reimbursed;
  • Participation in a sports team or other extra-curricular activity unless that group designs a service-learning project that contains the components and standards listed above
  • Assisting a teacher (i.e. correcting papers, cleaning the classroom)
  • Artistic performances or recitals unless students are involved in creating a project that includes a performance as an outcome of the project
  • Attending a workshop, conference or other educational event unless that training leads directly to a service project.
  • Chores, babysitting or assisting a relative
Acceptable Activities
  • Volunteering in a soup kitchen, food pantry, animal shelter, or hospital (reading to children, delivering food)
  • Volunteering at a YMCA or Boys & Girls Club
  • Tutoring students in a school or community-based organization
  • Walk-a-thons for non-profit organizations
  • Neighborhood clean-ups for community organizations
  • Volunteering as helpers at Von Steuben functions
  • Volunteering for outside band functions such as graduation, open house, or any other activity approved by the counseling staff (5 hours max)
  • Only acceptable church activities: tutoring, food/clothes pantry, and soup kitchen