"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Afterschool is an ideal setting for engaging students in addressing community issues. Service learning not only benefits the community but also fosters academic achievement, social-emotional skills and a lifelong commitment to helping others.

Service learning combines meaningful community service and academic enrichment to create authentic learning experiences. Students can assess the needs in their communities and work together to create solutions. Consider these tips from the Corporation for National and Community Service:

  • Involve students in the planning. Discuss community needs, and brainstorm ways to meet them.
  • Choose age-appropriate projects. For younger students, choose projects with action and quick, tangible results. Older students enjoy planning projects that allow them to interact with those they are serving.
  • Partner with community organizations. Invite speakers from the organization to discuss their community efforts and to participate in the project.
  • Reflect with students. Ask them to share experiences and discuss the challenges and benefits of the project.
  • Celebrate efforts. Congratulate students on their contributions to the community, and ensure that organizations that benefit from students’ work express their thanks directly to them.

Service learning empowers students to work together to effect positive change in themselves and their communities. To get started, check out these service project ideas.