The NYC Department of Education's Service in Schools initiative began in August 2010 in partnership with NYC Service, Office of the Mayor. Read below to learn about service-learning and community service and to access resources for youth service, including information on Service in Schools programs and opportunities from our partners. Sign up for the Service in Schools newsletter and get opportunities and resources for youth service in NYC delivered to your inbox. Read the most recent edition of the Service in Schools newsletter or view past editions below. Contact us at ServiceinSchools@schools.nyc.gov.
Service in Schools strives to expand the number of NYC students engaged in transformative community service and service-learning experiences that enable them to use their voice, skills, and critical thinking to affect positive change in their communities and the world.
Service-Learning and Community Service
Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with classroom curriculum, allowing students to connect academic studies with real-life solutions in order to strengthen communities. Within the classroom, students identify community needs, apply their skills and studies to research solutions and plan service activities, implement the activities, and then evaluate and reflect on the experiences and impact.
Community service is an activity that engages students in real-life solutions to strengthen communities. Community service can be a one-time activity or a series of activities and is a key component of service-learning.
Service in Schools Programs and Resources
Learn more below about Service in Schools’ service-learning professional learning workshops, youth service opportunities, and resources. Service in Schools offers a range of instructional resources for schools and programs for teachers and their students to build a culture of service and provide youth with opportunities for service in their classroom, school community, and city. Email ServiceinSchools@schools.nyc.gov to learn how to get involved in a program this school year.
Service in Schools directly assists schools to develop and improve their community service and service-learning programs. Through school site visits as well as email and phone outreach, Service in Schools works with educators and school leaders to provide resources, celebrate youth service accomplishments, and generate ideas to expand their school service programs. Email ServiceinSchools@schools.nyc.gov to connect with a member of our team on questions about youth service and to share the impact your students are making on the community.
The Service Coordinator is a school-based staff member who oversees their school’s service initiatives and is designated by the principal in the Consolidated Plan. Throughout the year, Service Coordinators receive communications from Service in Schools about opportunities for teachers and students. At the end of the school year, Service Coordinators complete the Service in Schools End-of-Year survey to report on the service activities accomplished by their students.
Seal of Recognition for Service
The NYC Department of Education offers a locally approved diploma seal of recognition for youth service. The Seal of Recognition for Service, or Service Seal, recognizes high school students who accumulate a minimum of 100 hours of service over their high school years. Service hours may include community service completed independently or as part of service-learning and/or a school-led service program.
For further guidance on the Service Seal, teachers and school-based staff can refer to the Seal of Recognition for Service guidance document behind login on the InfoHub. For questions, email ServiceinSchools@schools.nyc.gov.
Professional Learning Series and Student Programs
Kids Action Team (Grades K-5, after school)
Through the Kids Action Team program, teachers learn how to integrate academic learning into after-school service activities, implement and document a service-learning project with their students, and cultivate a service mindset in young students to increase the likelihood of continued service engagement throughout their lives. Students on a Kids Action Team gain knowledge of local issues and experience presenting their work to peers, families, and other stakeholders at the Celebration of Service in the spring. View student projects from the 2020-21 Kids Action Team program.
Race Against Waste (Grades 4-8, in class or after school)
The Race Against Waste program is a collaboration between Service in Schools and the Office of Sustainability to support teachers in leading students through an investigation of waste in their community and developing a service-learning project that helps their community to reduce and/or reuse a source of waste. Through the Race Against Waste program, students plan, carry out, and document a service-learning project that serves a community need while learning from experts in the field of waste reduction. View student projects from the 2020-21 Race Against Waste program.
Students Taking Action Today Program (Grades K-8, in class or after school)
The Students Taking Action Today program aims to engage students in grades K-8 in weekly service-learning sessions in which they investigate a community issue, and then engage in advocacy and take action to address it. Students learn about the issue through experiential learning and a variety of media resources. As the culmination of their work in their school and home communities, students present their action and advocacy accomplishments at a showcase at the end of the school year. View student projects from the 2020-21 Students Taking Action Today program.
Youth Service Summit (Grades 3-5, day of service)
The Service in Schools Youth Service Summit is a day of service to mobilize elementary school students from across the city. Students engage in service projects led by high school student leaders that address local and global issues including homelessness, hunger, the environment, and animal welfare. The summit culminates in a celebration in which students reflect on the power of youth to make change in their communities on a school, neighborhood, or even worldwide scale.
Student Leadership Programs
High School Leadership Institute (Grades 10-12)
The High School Leadership Institute is an exciting opportunity for NYC public high school students in grades 10-12 to build their leadership skills over the course of a five-day Institute during spring break. The Institute culminates in the planning and implementation of the Youth Service Summit for elementary school students. View student leaders' lessons from the 2020-21 Virtual Leadership Institute and Youth Service Summit.
Teens Advocating for Change (Grades 10-12)
Teens Advocating for Change is a virtual program for students in grades 10-12 who are interested in making a difference in their community. As part of the program, students attend live virtual sessions, working in groups to investigate a community need: housing, accessibility, LGBTQIA+ rights, or fast fashion. Groups research policy surrounding the issue and then develop an advocacy campaign to raise awareness and promote action. View student advocacy campaigns from the 2020-21 Teens Advocating for Change program.
Service in Schools Newsletters
Read about additional service-learning programs and service opportunities for NYC public school students in the Service in Schools newsletter.
Youth Service Partners
Many organizations work with NYC public schools and/or families to engage students in community service and service-learning. Visit our Youth Service Partners page for more information on youth service opportunities and resources from NYC-based and national organizations.
Find at-home service-learning guides, e-books for service topics, and student presentations of service accomplishments on the Service in Schools resource page.