Guided Tour for Students


Welcome to Chicago Student Volunteers! We are glad that you have made the choice to actively take part in making a change in your communities. After all, it is the students and teens of this generation who will go on to improve and innovate for the future. Our mission is to make it both quicker and easier for students like yourself to find and participate in volunteer opportunities that appeal to you. Please feel free to post on the forum, email website contributors and browse the site for information on non-profits in your community.

Many of you are aware that it is a Chicago Pubic Schools (CPS) graduation requirement to have either a certain number of volunteer hours logged or service learning projects completed before you graduate. The requirement in previous years was 40 hours of community service among any mix of organizations; beginning this school year, the new CPS requirement will be three extended community service projects, each totaling a minimum of 15 hours.

About the Site

This site is specifically designed, yes designed, to make it easier on you! Before you continue, here is some information that you might want to know before making your choice on what type of non-profit you would like to join or volunteer for.

You may notice the link bar at the top of the page. Take a look at all the links that we have set up for you. Browse our calendar section and choose an event or commitment that fits your busy schedule. Or browse our organizations section and choose a non-profit that best suits your interests.

We are currently in the process of also combining organizations into categories, so that you can browse by area of interest. Do you love animals? Then the Animal Lovers category would be perfect for you! Do you have a real passion for working outdoors, interacting with nature or encouraging conservation in your community? Then the Going Green category is your cup of tea! Have fun with service learning. Find your personal niche. Make a positive change!

Some Thoughts About Service Learning...

Service-learning combines academic study with service to the community. Guided critical and reflective thinking throughout the project helps you link experience with theory and deepens your understanding and ability to use what you know. You will be expected to keep a reflective journal and summarize what you learned at the end of the project by writing a short reflection of what you learned and how it has in one way or another changed your views on the community.

As mentioned above, there are different types of service. Some require more hands-on work. Others require behind-the-scenes activity to help keep things running smoothly. Again, it is up to you to decide. There are three categories of service learning, described below.

Direct Service - Provide service directly to the clients of a community-based organization. This may include tutoring in an after school program, assisting elderly and economically disadvantaged individuals, working with refugees, etc.

Indirect Service - Serve at an organization without first-hand contact with the recipients. This includes providing administrative assistance, developing fundraising programs, creating marketing plans, participating in painting/construction projects, etc.

Advocacy - Take civic action by educating the public about particular issues in order to change or eliminate misunderstandings about culture/differences.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments, let us know! (Email any of us listed on the "About Us" page.) We are here to make it easier for you.

What Activities Qualify For Credit?

The Chicago Public School system provides guidelines on what sorts of activities are acceptable for students seeking service learning credit. In addition, individual schools or individual counselors within those schools may have tighter restrictions than the general ones issued by the central administration.

We currently wish to only list those activities which are acceptable for earning students service learning credit hours. In general, services provided by non-profit organizations which involve direct service to the community should always be acceptable. Back-office support services for non-profits may or may not be acceptable; such activities will be posted with a "restrictions" disclaimer that interested students should check with their counselors for approval before accepting such projects.

In addition, either the non-profit organization or the event itself must be located within the Chicago city limits. The events must be within the greater Chicago area in any case; overseas summer placements do not qualify for service learning credit.

Students may not earn credit for:

- Work with for-profit businesses and corporations, or for work that is financially reimbursed
- Religious organizations, if the service involves proselytizing
- Volunteer work where no academic objective is addressed; as a practical matter, this means the project leader needs to spend at least a few moments teaching the volunteers about the community benefits of the volunteer work that is being undertaken.

General humanitarian work done by religious organizations are acceptable, which includes such activities as running food pantries, soup kitchens and tutoring programs. Volunteer work with a religious component is not accepted.

Artistic performances are only acceptable when students use them within the context of a community service project. In other words, plays, musicals, arts and crafts and similar projects are acceptable when done to teach or entertain community members resident in hospitals, nursing homes or similar locations.

Students may not earn hours for the following specific activities:

- Volunteer work with a political campaign, without the mediation of an approved community organization or classroom instructor
- Participation in a sports team or other extra-curricular activity unless that group designs a Service Learning project with an educational component
- Assisting a teacher (i.e. correcting papers, cleaning the classroom) unless tied to a teacher preparation program (Future Teachers of Illinois/Chicago)
- Attending a training or other educational event unless that training leads directly to a service project.

In general, one can summarize the above restrictions by recognizing that an acceptable service learning project needs to include an actual learning component which emphasizes the community-wide benefits of participation.

More information can be found on the CPS Service Learning website: