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  • Create a culture of service project with students age 5-9

    Teaching students about giving back has a place in the classroom, especially when it has roots in learning. Youth Service America has created amazing guides for teachers on how to carry out these projects, one version of which you can learn about here.

    Setting: Schools

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    Organization/people involved

    Youth Service America

    What they did

    For their Semester of Service, Rachael Brunson’s third graders set a goal to reduce childhood hunger in their community. Students first researched the issue, then gave presentations, organized an economics fair to raise awareness and funds, advocated for statewide school breakfasts, and raised nearly $8,000 for their local food bank. As the students’ semester came to an end, they rallied at the Texas State Capitol, and were in attendance when the legislature passed the breakfast bill.

    Adaptable to most classroom settings and subject areas, all Semester of Service projects include these key elements that are known to promote student engagement:

    How you can do it


    This project fueled students’ passion for learning, encouraged them to take ownership of their learning, and engaged them in higher-level thinking. The students gained significant knowledge about the issue of childhood hunger, and educated their peers and their community.

    At the same time, they “moved the needle” on childhood hunger in their community through fundraising ($8,000 for the Capital Area Food Bank) and systematic awareness-raising and advocacy activities (writing persuasive letters to legislators). The impact of their work meant that fewer kids in Texas will go hungry.

    Big takeaways

    Rachael says, “Don’t try to plan it all in advance.” Instead, really listen to your students. Give them ownership of the project and see what happens, while still facilitating their process and providing guidance where needed. And don’t forget to reflect, every step of the way.


    Photo credit: Youth Service America

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