Service Learning Projects & Hours




CPS High School Student Service Learning Graduation Requirement:

Beginning with the Class of 2020, high school students (current 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students) must complete 2 classroom-integrated service learning projects. Service-learning projects should not be one-offs; they must be linked to academic goals and curriculum and should build civic skills through centering student voice and identity. Service Learning FAQ


What is a Service Learning Project?

  • Rooted in a teaching strategy that connects classroom curriculum with authentic community issues and assets.
  • Sustains students’ engagement in the community while building social, civic, and academic skills.
  • Begins with inquiry and engages student identity and leadership.


What Has Changed?



Service Learning Graduation Requirement (ends 2019): 40 hours.

Service Learning Requirement (began 2016): 2 classroom-integrated Service Learning Projects: one in Civics and one in any other content area.

Students were responsible for completing hours through volunteering after school and in school.

Teachers are responsible for embedding service-learning projects in content area courses. In projects, teachers partner with students in a sustained inquiry and action process. Students participate in projects like other assignments: they are not add-ons or optional.

Service Learning Hours were generally individual, often one-offs, and disconnected from school learning and culture.

Service Learning Projects are sustained, collaborative and foster school-community connections while building student identity, agency, and authority.

Service Learning Hours focused on the work of the site or organization.

Service Learning Projects are inquiry-based, rooted in students’ identities and aimed at strengthening their cognitive growth and civic power. Partners can support projects but are not required.

Supported through forms, lists, and other paper documentation. Classroom projects were teacher-driven and required the approval of Service-Learning Coach.

Projects align to content area standards and deepen students’ learning through real-life applications of course content. As with other instructional decisions, teachers plan for projects through professional collaboration and without requiring external approval. Service Learning Coaches support projects through brainstorming ideas and resources and offering logistical help such as ordering busses.

OLD Project Example: After reading an article their teacher assigned them about pollution in Lake Michigan, students participated in a beach clean with Biology class, and wrote a reflection about their day.

NEW Project Example: The Biology teacher presented students with a question: Why do people litter in Chicago? Students do research through interviews and surveys, analyze their findings, do a root cause analysis, ask public officials questions about trash pickup and neighborhood beautification policies, and design a project to address a cause of littering they identified. They may decide that the most effective action to address the problem is a beach clean, or they may decide on a different action. Their reflection process is not on one day of action, but on the skills they practiced, the knowledge they developed, and their own sustainable civic agency.



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. It's 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

Individual Hours

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

Please return the documents to students' assigned counselor in RM110 or email them

There are 2 service-learning deadlines each school year:

  • December 18, 2020
  • May 28, 2021



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
  • 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 events unless that training leads directly to a service project
  • Chores, babysitting or assisting a relative

Acceptable Activities

  • Volunteering as helpers at Kelly functions
  • Volunteering for functions such as graduation, open house, or any other activity approved by the counseling staff/Service Learning Coach
  • 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
  • Only acceptable church activities: tutoring, food/clothes pantry, and soup kitchen