Service Learning

In March, our blog will be focusing on opportunities for moral action, Principle 5 of our 11 Principles. Want your students to make that leap from moral thinking and feeling to moral action? Engage them in service learning projects.

Need Inspiration?

Service learning projects are most valuable and most fun when they are student-led initiatives. Help your students discover an issue that they’re passionate about and see what creative solutions they can dream up.

If you need a powerful story to show your students how much they can do when they put their minds to it, introduce them to Zachary Bonner. An accomplished philanthropist, Zach created the Little Red Wagon Foundation, an organization founded to provide aid to those affected by Hurricane Charley, when he was only 8 years old. Now the organization runs many successful community service projects including regularly distributing “zach packs” of food and supplies to homeless youth.

Are your students ready to follow Zach Bonner’s lead? Here are some of our favorite service learning resources.

Need Ideas?

Kids Consortium shares service learning projects from real classrooms. You can recreate the projects that were successful in other schools or use them to inspire your own ideas! Projects for grades K-2 (link), 3-5 (link), 6-8 (link) and 9-12 (link) is a great search engine for teachers and students seeking meaningful service opportunities. Simply input the cause you’re passionate about, the amount of time you have available and the type of work you’re interested fin and the website provides kid-friendly project suggestions.

The Generator School Network has a database that allows you to search for service learning projects that fit your class’s needs.

PBS offers service learning ideas for students in grades 3-12 as well as their own lists of helpful resources for each project.

Need Money?

If you need money to get a service learning project off the ground, Youth Service America (YSA) may be able to help. In addition to offering project ideas and other resources, YSA offers grants up to $1000.

In addition to the free community toolkits YesKidzCan! offers, they have set up the Social KidPreneurz Awards Program. The program offers $100 in seed money to students in grades 3-8 who would like to sell a product or service and donate the money to a cause they care about.

Know a student interested in doing community service abroad? Recommend they apply for VolunTEEN Nation’s International Service Project Grant to receive up to $300 dollars.

Ways to Help focuses on empowering high school students to create community service projects they care about. Student apply for grants based on the topic area that their project falls under. Topics include Hunger, Animal Welfare, Global Warming, Gender Equality, Cancer and many more. Simply go to the “see ways to help” tab and click “apply for a grant.”

Need Advice?

Looking to make your current service learning projects even more meaningful? Lift, a project of the National Youth Leadership Council, has videos and resources to help you enhance your students’ service learning experiences. From linking the projects to your curriculum to engaging your students in thoughtful reflection, Lift has it covered.

If you need some tips and advice in planning service projects, subscribe to the blog as we’ll be posting new content on the topic all month. Until then take a look at some of our past blog entries on service learning:

“Words into Action: Service Learning As a Teaching Strategy” by Cathy Berger Kaye, author of The Complete Guide to Service Learning

“Connecting Service Learning to Character and Academic Growth” by David Wangaard

“What is Your School Doing for Others? Reflecting on Service Learning” by Rebecca Bauer

Have more service learning resources? Share in the comments below.