Student Frequently Asked Questions
What is Service Learning?
According to Chicago Public Schools, Service Learning is a teaching and learning
methodology that connects classroom curriculum with identified community issues
and needs. Service Learning engages students in projects that serve the
community and build their social and academic capacities. Each service
experience must have three distinct components in order for it to count toward
your graduation requirement: Preparation, Service, Reflection. Students can
earn service hours by participating in a classroom service project, an
after-school service project, or a student club service project. Students can
also earn service hours by working directly with a community
What is preparation?
Students are effectively prepared for their service experience when they have
spent time researching the organization where the service will be provided and
the issue that will be addressed. For example, if students in an Environmental
Science classroom work to restore a wetlands area, they will have learned about
biodiversity, the importance of wetlands, and the fact that wetlands have
diminished dramatically around the United States during the last century. If
students work with an environmental organization, they will also come with some
knowledge of that organization. Students earning service hours outside of the
classroom must complete a Pre-Service
Preparation form prior to a service project.
What is reflection?
When students have a chance to talk about, discuss or present information from
their service experience, they are engaging in reflection. If a group of
students conducts a project that addresses the problem of hunger, they will
also have a chance to discuss, write about, and/or present what they learned,
how they changed, and how well they performed on the project. Students earning
service hours outside of the classroom must complete a
Post-Service Reflection form. Students may also submit their
reflections to Service Learning Manager for posting on the CPS Service Learning
website at www.servicelearning.cps.k12.il.us.
How many service hours do I have to earn in order to
All CPS students must perform 40 hours of service in order to graduate.
Students may, of course, earn in excess of 40 hours and we encourage students
to do so. We strongly encourage students to earn at least ten hours each
academic year. Beginning with the 2004-05 academic year, all sophomores must earn a minimum of 20 service hours in order to be promoted to junior status. It does you no good and it is a major problem for the community
organization and your school if you wait until your senior year to earn your hours.
Why do I have to do 40 hours of service?
Service Learning is not the same as forced volunteerism. It is hands-on
learning. If you participate in a quality service project with your heart,
soul, and mind, you can enjoy some of the following outcomes:
√ Engage in exciting hands-on learning
√ Understand the relevance of academics to the real world
√ Impact local issues and local needs
√ Learn how to get things done
√ Explore a potential career interest
√ Enjoy an important cross-cultural or intergenerational experience
√ Address social inadequacies and injustices and work to remedy them
√ Increase your civic and citizenship skills
√ Enhance your own self-esteem and self-confidence
√ Give of yourself and enter into caring relationships with others
√ Develop responsibility for your own learning.
If I go on a field trip or attend a workshop, can I earn service hours?
No. The only way that students can earn hours by attending training events or
workshops is if the workshop or training is directly connected to a service
project. For example, if a group of students attended a workshop about human
rights advocacy and then developed a project to free someone who has been
falsely imprisoned, the hours spent in training can be counted.
How can I earn my service hours?
Students may earn service hours in the following ways:
√ Participate in an approved classroom service project
√ Participate in an approved after-school project with a teacher or
√ Participate in an approved project of an extracurricular club at your
√ Work directly with an approved community organization.
Are there any restrictions about what counts for service and what does not count?
Students may not earn service hours:
√ by working with a for-profit business or corporation.
√ where no academic objective is addressed.
√ by working for a religious organization if the service involves
√ if the work is financially reimbursed.
How do I select an organization with which to work?
Each school maintains a listing of service opportunities and service
organizations. Check with your Service Learning coach. Chicago Public Schools
also maintains a database of approved service organizations. You can view the
database and navigate it based on zip code and issue area at
www.servicelearning.cps.k12.il.us. You may also go to the website found
at www.idealist.org. You
can find up to 450 organizations that need volunteers.
Do I just show up?
No. You should always contact the organization first, set up a first
appointment and then show up on time. If you are not able to make your
appointment, call the organization and let a representative know you won't be
able to be there. Organizations are counting on your service. Don't let them
Do I need approval before I begin my service project?
Yes. It is extremely important that you receive approval for your service
project before you begin. Each school's Service Learning coach must grant
approval for a project.
Can I earn service hours by helping family members?
No. Service Learning is designed to expand your horizons. We want you to be
introduced to new organizations, new issues and ideas through your service
How are my service hours recorded?
Each student must carry with him/her a time sheet. The organizational
representative, teacher and Service Learning coach are the only individuals who
may sign off on your time sheet. Service Learning coaches are instructed to
confirm the signatures on your time sheet by contacting the community
organization. If the coach is unable to gain confirmation, your hours will not
be counted toward your graduation requirement. Once the hours have been
confirmed, they will be logged on the CPS computer system. You will receive
updates on your transcripts twice each year.
Can I get paid while I am earning service hours?
No. If you do get paid, you cannot count those hours toward your graduation
requirement. If you work at a for-profit business (i.e. restaurant or clothing
store) and work some hours without pay, these hours may not count to your
What resources do I have to help me earn my hours?
Your Service Learning coach, teachers, fellow students, family members or
friends might all be good resources. It is always a good idea to start with the
Service Learning Coach. The Coach maintains a listing of many service
opportunities. You can also go to the Service Learning website at
www.servicelearning.cps.k12.il.us, where you will find a database of
more than 200 organizations in addition to a calendar of service activities and
If I performed service in elementary school, can those
hours be counted toward my graduation requirement?
No. You must earn all 40 hours during your high school years. Of course, we
encourage you to be involved in as much service and activism at all times!