What's the best way to learn?
Nine out of ten high school students say that they learn best through hands-on learning.

Service Learning is hands-on learning!
Service Learning is an opportunity for students to learn skills and knowledge by doing service projects in the community that help build their skills, while they are strengthening the community.

Service Learning isn't forced volunteerism!
Service Learning is a way to:

  • get your voice heard on what matters in your community and what problems should be addressed.
  • learn effective problem solving, critical thinking, and project management skills.
  • strengthen your academic and social skills.
  • make academic content more relevant and get to use what you're learning!
  • learn about potential careers by completing a project in collaboration with a community organization.
  • meet amazing people that you wouldn't ordinarily get to meet. They'll stretch the way you think about the world.
  • gain a sense of accomplishment. You too can help change the world.
  • do something good for your community and for yourself.

The Service Learning Initiative in brief:

  • Every high school student (9th-12th grade) must complete 40 hours of Service Learning in order to graduate. Beginning with the 2004-05 academic year, each sophomore must have earned at least 20 service hours in order to be promoted to junior status.

  • Each Service Learning project must have the following components:
    1. Preparation - learn about the issue and/or organization and plan your project;
    2. Act - perform the service; and
    3. Reflection - What did you learn? How did you grow? What changed? Present your experience.

  • You can complete your hours in one of three ways:
    1. Participate in a classroom Service Learning project (check with your Service Learning Coach to see which teachers are offering these opportunities);
    2. Participate in an after-school service project that has clear academic goals (we want you to gain knowledge and develop skills) or
    3. Partner with a community organization in your neighborhood on a project (but make sure to complete the pre-service inquiry form and post-service reflection form).

  • These are the restrictions (things you can't do!):
    1. Receive money for your work;
    2. Serve when no academic objective is addressed;
    3. Promote a specific faith or religion;
    4. Work for a for-profit business (even if you receive no money).

This page, designed specifically for CPS high school students, will give you all the information you need to get started. Visit our forms page and get immediate access to all the forms you will need to get started on completing your Service Learning project. Visit our calendar page to find out about great activities happening in Chicago that might be right for you. Read the guidelines so that you can have a deeper understanding of what Service Learning is and isn't, what counts toward your hours and what doesn't. Go to to find organizations in Chicago.

Send questions and/or comments about content on this site to: Service Learning