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What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning combines service to the community with student learning in a way that improves both the student and the community. According to the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993:


  • Is a method whereby students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized community service projects and activities that are conducted in and meets the needs of communities;
  • Is coordinated with a JAG program;
  • Fosters civic responsibility;
  • Is integrated into and enhances the JAG National Curriculum and the components of the Career Association that deal with community service;
  • And provides structured time for participants to reflect on the service experience.

What Does Service-Learning Look Like?

In colleges and schools, service learning is part of the JAG National Curriculum. Through the Career Association, members develop practical skills, self-esteem, and a sense of civic responsibility. Examples of service-learning projects include:

  • preserving native plants
  • designing neighborhood playgrounds
  • teaching younger children to read
  • testing the local water quality
  • creating wheelchair ramps
  • preparing food for the homeless
  • developing urban community gardens
  • starting school recycling programs
  • conducting surveys focused on issues of community interest
  • organizing social events for the disabled or long-term care residents

Why is Service-Learning Important?

A national study of Learn and Serve America programs suggests that effective service-learning programs:

  • improve academic grades
  • increase attendance in school
  • develop personal and social responsibility

Whether the goal is academic improvement, personal development, or both, students learn:

  • critical thinking
  • communication
  • teamwork
  • civic responsibility
  • mathematical reasoning
  • problem solving
  • public speaking
  • vocational skills
  • computer skills
  • scientific method
  • research skills analysis

The Corporation for National and Community Service

When faced with challenges such as illiteracy, poverty, crime, and environmental problems, our nation has always relied on the dedication and action of citizens. Today, the Corporation for National and Community Service carries on that tradition by working with governor-appointed state commissions, nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, and other civic organizations to provide opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve their communities.

The Corporation's three major service initiatives are AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America and the National Senior Service Corps.


AmeriCorps, the domestic Peace Corps, engages more than 50,000 Americans in intensive, results-driven service. Most AmeriCorps members are selected by and serve with local and national organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Boys and Girls Clubs. Some JAG State Affiliates operate AmeriCorp funded projects.

Others serve in AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and AmeriCorps*NCCC (the National Civilian Community Corps). After their term of service, AmeriCorps members receive education awards that help finance college or pay back student loans.

Learn and Serve America

Throughout our nation, many schools are discovering the value of service-learning through projects that link education and service. At the forefront of this movement is Learn and Serve America, which helps support nearly one million students from kindergarten through college who are meeting community needs while improving their academic skills and learning the habits of good citizenship. In addition to providing Learn and Serve grants and scholarships for student service, the Corporation for National and Community Service also promotes youth service through the National Service-Learning Leader Schools Program and the Presidents Student Service Challenge.

National Senior Service Corps

Seniors are one of America's most vital resources, offering a wealth of experience and energy. Through the National Senior Service Corps, nearly half a million Americans age fifty-five and older share their time and talents to help solve local problems as:

  • Foster Grandparents serving one-on-one with young people with special needs
  • Senior Companions helping other seniors live independently in their homes
  • Volunteers with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) meeting a wide range of community needs

Corporation for National and Community Service
1201 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20525
phone: 202-606-5000
TTY: (202) 565-2799

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (NSLC)

The work of the Clearinghouse is to support Learn and Serve America grantees, as well as other programs engaged in service-learning, through the collection and dissemination of information and materials, including:

  • a variety of listserves for discussion & information on service-learning
  • a website and information database
  • a toll-free information phone line (1-866-245-SERV/7378)
  • a collection of publications on service-learning
  • a recent addition to the website, "Check Out Our Newest Resources"


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