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Meaningful Service

Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

1. Service-learning experiences are appropriate to participant ages and developmental abilities.
2. Service-learning addresses issues that are personally relevant to the participants.
3. Service-learning provides participants with interesting and engaging service activities.
4. Service-learning encourages participants to understand their service experiences in the context of the underlying societal issues being addressed.
5. Service-learning leads to attainable and visible outcomes that are valued by those being served.

Link to Curriculum

Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

1. Service-learning has clearly articulated learning goals.
2. Service-learning is aligned with the academic and/or programmatic curriculum.
3. Service-learning helps participants learn how to transfer knowledge and skills from one setting to another.
4. Service-learning that takes place in schools is formally recognized in school board policies and student records.

Service-learning is a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

The K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice were developed by the National Youth Leadership Council with funding from State Farm Companies Foundation. Working
from a base of 20 years of professional wisdom and practice, NYLC worked with other leaders in service-learning and engaged RMC Research Corporation to ensure that the standards included the strongest evidence-based elements of effective practice. Then young people, teachers, school and district administrators, community members, staff from communitybased
organizations, policymakers, and others interested in service-learning participated in panels across the United States to strengthen the language of the standards their indicators.
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Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

1. Service-learning reflection includes a variety of verbal, written, artistic, and
nonverbal activities to demonstrate understanding and changes in participants’
knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes.
2. Service-learning reflection occurs before, during, and after the service experience.
3. Service-learning reflection prompts participants to think deeply about complex
community problems and alternative solutions.
4. Service-learning reflection encourages participants to examine their
preconceptions and assumptions in order to explore and understand their roles
and responsibilities as citizens.
5. Service-learning reflection encourages participants to examine a variety of social
and civic issues related to their service-learning experience so that participants
understand connections to public policy and civic life.


Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

1. Service-learning helps participants identify and analyze different points of view to
gain understanding of multiple perspectives.
2. Service-learning helps participants develop interpersonal skills in conflict
resolution and group decision-making.
3. Service-learning helps participants actively seek to understand and value the
diverse backgrounds and perspectives of those offering and receiving service.
4. Service-learning encourages participants to recognize and overcome stereotypes.

Youth Voice

Service-learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating servicelearning experiences with guidance from adults.

1. Service-learning engages youth in generating ideas during the planning,
implementation, and evaluation processes.
2. Service-learning involves youth in the decision-making process throughout the
service-learning experiences.
3. Service-learning involves youth and adults in creating an environment that
supports trust and open expression of ideas.
4. Service-learning promotes acquisition of knowledge and skills to enhance youth
leadership and decision-making.
5. Service-learning involves youth in evaluating the quality and effectiveness of the
service-learning experience.


Service-learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

1. Service-learning involves a variety of partners, including youth, educators, families,
community members, community-based organizations, and/or businesses.
2. Service-learning partnerships are characterized by frequent and regular
communication to keep all partners well-informed about activities and progress.
3. Service-learning partners collaborate to establish a shared vision and set common
goals to address community needs.
4. Service-learning partners collaboratively develop and implement action plans to
meet specified goals.
5. Service-learning partners share knowledge and understanding of school and
community assets and needs, and view each other as valued resources.

Progress Monitoring

Service-learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

1. Service-learning participants collect evidence of progress toward meeting specific
service goals and learning outcomes from multiple sources throughout the servicelearning
2. Service-learning participants collect evidence of the quality of service-learning
implementation from multiple sources throughout the service-learning
3. Service-learning participants use evidence to improve service-learning experiences.
4. Service-learning participants communicate evidence of progress toward goals and
outcomes with the broader community, including policy-makers and education
leaders, to deepen service-learning understanding and ensure that high quality
practices are sustained.

Duration and Intensity

Service-learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

1. Service-learning experiences include the processes of investigating community
needs, preparing for service, action, reflection, demonstration of learning and
impacts, and celebration.
2. Service-learning is conducted during concentrated blocks of time across a period
of several weeks or months.
3. Service-learning experiences provide enough time to address identified
community needs and achieve learning outcomes.

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© 2008 National Youth Leadership Council. All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely photocopied and distributed.K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice