Frequently Asked Questions
Learn and Serve America was a vital grant program that was used to
support service-learning programs across the country. It is a
federal program of the
Corporation for National and Community Service
that provided funding to develop, implement, and sustain quality service-learning programs throughout the nation.
In Washington state, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has been responsible for distributing and monitoring funds for K-12 schools since 1992. OSPI sub-granted the school-based funds through a competitive process for local schools and districts. Grants support new and existing service-learning programs for youth in elementary, middle, and senior high schools across the state through 2012.
Update: On April 15, 2011, the FY 2011 Continuing Appropriations Act was signed into law. Among other provisions, this legislation eliminated FY 2011 program funding for Learn and Serve America. While the program is still authorized, there are no appropriations to support program activities. The Learn and Serve program will cease to continue in 2012.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. AmeriCorps is made up of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). In addition to AmeriCorps, the Corporation also administers Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America. Together these programs engage more than two million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year.
Additional AmeriCorps Information:
NOTE: OSPI does not oversee AmeriCorps programs. For more information, check the sites:
The next grant cycle is unknown and is contingent on federal
funding being reinstated.
Service-learning is a teaching strategy that engages students in meeting classroom learning objectives through powerful community service activities.
Service-learning is a step beyond community service: it makes a clear, strong, and measurable connection between community service and classroom learning.
Service-learning can engage every partner in the learning community:
- Students – Plan, engage, evaluate, and reflect
- Teachers – Facilitate, coach, and engage with students
- Community Members – Coach, educate, and engage with students
- Parents – Coach and reflect with students
- Local Community Groups – Donate, engage, and reflect with students
- Local Businesses – Donate and engage with students
These standards and indicators are principles of effective practice. The new K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice were developed by the National Youth Leadership Council and RMC Research Corporation and reactor panels composed of young people, teachers, school and district administrators, community members, staff from community-based organizations, policy-makers, and others interested in service-learning. The standards include:
- Duration and Intensity
- Link to Curriculum
- Meaningful Service
- Youth Voice
- Progress Monitoring
National Youth Leadership Council for more information and a PDF of the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice.
Recent research supports using a six-step process to increase the likelihood that service-learning will have positive outcomes for participants. This process is abbreviated IPARDC and involves students in:
- Investigating community issues
- Planning a project
- Acting to address a problem
- Reflecting on their experiences and the process
- Demonstrating their work to a wider audience
While the IPARDC process clarifies what service-learning is, the new K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice spell out in detail what it takes to provide students with high quality service-learning experiences.
- Investigating community issues
- Activities that are one-time, or episodic, volunteer opportunities or assignments
- Activities that make service-learning an add-on to existing school curriculum. Activities that are one-sided, benefiting only students or only the community
Service-learning benefits students by…
- Making learning more useful, relevant, and alive
- Improving interpersonal skills and social awareness
- Promoting active learning
- Extending the boundaries of the classroom and into life beyond school
- Providing students with real-life application of what they learn in the classroom
- Promoting the value of diversity
- Strengthening analytical and critical thinking skills
- Strengthening interpersonal and communication skills
- Promoting students' intellectual growth, leadership development, and personal and social growth
- Fostering civic responsibility for social challenges
- Helping prepare students for the world of work
- Allowing students to serve as involved citizens in their communities
Service-learning benefits the school by…
- Strengthening students’ classroom learning experiences
- Leveraging new financial resources for school activities
- Allowing the school to give back to the community through its students
- Providing good public relations
- Providing an opportunity for the community to view the school as a resource
- Can establish connections for other school programs
Service-learning benefits the community by…
- Helping meet unmet community needs with substantial human resources
- Exposing and teaching communities about new generations of students
- Developing establish access and connections to other resources between the school and in the community
- Fostering a culture of service among current and future community leaders and members
- Breaking down and dispelling myths and stereotypes that the community has about students, and students about the community
- Adding energy, enthusiasm, and skill to projects, programs, and activities
- Preparing students for community participation