CSLC Community Based Organization Contact:

Lori McKinney

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What Does Service-Learning Look Like in a Community Based Setting?

Organizations that work in a community based context such as nonprofit organizations, faith-based programs, after school programs, recreation centers, etc., are perfect candidates for implementing service-learning with the individuals they engage.  Community based organizations often have much more time and flexibility to fully implement service-learning without the restrictions of school-based programs, allowing learners to more fully explore the social-emotional elements of service-learning and engage with their communities in ways that are positive and lasting.  

Consider using service-learning:

  • As an overarching framework for your leadership development program.
  • As a way to positively engage participants in their communities.
  • As a once-per-week program element. 

Why Service-Learning?

Service-learning can enrich the programmatic experiences of participants in many ways:

  • They are positive, meaningful, and real to the participants.
  • They involve cooperative rather than competitive experiences and thus promote skills associated with teamwork, community involvement, and citizenship.
  • They address complex problems in complex settings rather than simplified problems in isolation.
  • They offer opportunities to engage in problem-solving by requiring participants to gain knowledge of the specific context of their service-learning activity and community challenges, rather than only to draw upon generalized or abstract knowledge such as might come from a textbook. As a result, service-learning offers powerful opportunities to acquire the habits of critical thinking; i.e. the ability to identify the most important questions or issues within a real-world situation.
  • They promote deeper learning because the results are immediate and uncontrived. There are no "right answers" in the back of the book.
  • As a consequence of this immediacy of experience, service-learning is more likely to be personally meaningful to participants and to generate emotional consequences, to challenge values as well as ideas, and therefore to support social, emotional, and cognitive learning and development.