Student Services » Service Learning

Service Learning


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 projects should aim to incorporate the following standards of excellent practice:
  • Youth Voice
  • Meaningful Service
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Reflection
  • Community Partnerships
  • Progress Monitoring
  • Duration and Intensity
  • Diversity

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from a CPS high school, all students must complete a minimum of two (2) classroom-integrated service learning projects, one of which must be completed through Civics or AP Government. Von Steuben provides ample opportunities for students to complete the additional service project through subjects such as English, PE, and World Language.
Students are encouraged to complete individual hours as well. Individual service hours do not count toward CPS graduation requirements, but can contribute to eligibility for National Honor Society and future scholarship opportunities.
All Scholars are required to complete an additional 40 individual hours over the course of four years to maintain Scholars status.

Individual Service Hours

Individual service hours are acquired by doing volunteer work/community service with non-profit organizations. This volunteer work is not tied to a class project or graded work; it is done on the student's own time.
All students are encouraged to research and pursue their own service opportunities for the following reasons:
  • Personal fulfillment by engaging with organizations and causes you care about
  • Gain experience in specific fields of interest, such as healthcare, education, etc.
  • Volunteer work can be highlighted on your resume and college applications
  • Eligibility for scholarships
  • Eligibility for National Honor Society
To document individual service hours, students must turn in 3 documents (also available in Word format below) by the service learning deadline:​​​​​​​
There are 2 service learning deadlines each school year:
  • December 8, 2023
  • April 24, 2024
Summer and first semester hours must be received by the December deadline; hours completed after the December deadline must be received by the May deadline. If you fail to meet these deadlines, you will receive only half credit for the hours completed.

Acceptable Service Activities

  • Volunteering in a soup kitchen, food pantry, animal shelter, or hospital
  • 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
  • Volunteering as helpers at Von Steuben functions
  • Volunteering for outside band functions such as graduation, open house, or any other activity approved by the counseling staff (5 hours maximum)
  • Only acceptable religious organization activities: academic tutoring, food/clothes pantry, and soup kitchen

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)
  • Clerical work (typing, filing, record keeping)
  • Artistic performances or recitals unless students are involved in creating a service project that includes a performance as an outcome of the project
  • Attending a workshop, conference, or other educational event unless that training leads directly to community service
  • Chores, babysitting, or assisting a relative
If you are not sure if a service opportunity is considered acceptable or not, please reach out to your counselor