Definitions

Academic Component: The classroom portion of service learning which is generally facilitated by an instructor. While in the classroom, students discuss and write about their community service experience and gain knowledge and information to improve their volunteer participation.

Agency: The establishment or organization which hosts the community service work. Community service is generally performed at not-for-profit or governmental agencies; when community service is performed at a school, the school is considered the agency.

AmeriCorps: The national service program available youth and adults 17 and older. In return for serving their communities, participants can earn money toward their college education.

Beneficiary: The individual, agency, group or community who receives services directly from the community service participant and/or who benefits from services provided.

Character education: The effort to develop "good character" in students through the practice and teaching of moral values and decision-making.

Civic Engagement: Civic engagement means an institutional commitment to public purposes and responsibilities intended to strengthen a democratic way of life.

Community-based Organization (CBO): A nonprofit agency which is representative of the community which it serves, generally through the provision of human and other community services.

Community-based service: Organizations outside a formal governmental framework that provide services and opportunities to meet the needs of children, youth and/or adults in the community.

Court-ordered Community Service: Also known as community restitution or community service orders, court-ordered community service involves the assignment of persons convicted of criminal acts to nonprofit or governmental agencies. Community service orders usually specify a number of hours over a time period established by the court and is imposed as an alternative to incarceration.

Direct Service: Work directed at the achievement of the agency's primary mission which often involves the provision of services directly to agency clients. Preparing meals at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a neighborhood playground, working as an aid in a child care center, tutoring, are all examples of direct service.

Indirect Service: Provision of skills and/or work to help an agency perform its functions or to impact upon issues of concern to the agency and the clients/community that it serves. Examples of indirect service including setting up a computer program for agency use, helping with clerical tasks and lobbying of funding for HIV/AIDS research for an agency which works in the field of HIV prevention and education.

Intergenerational program: Programs which bring together participants of different ages. While applicable to relationships between any two generations, the term "intergenerational" is today generally used to connote relationships between children/adolescents and older adults. Intergenerational service brings together youth and adults to work jointly on service projects using the talents and energies of each group to complement and support the other.

Learn and Serve America: A national initiative available to states and localities which integrate service or volunteer work with learning. Learn and Service America programs have been implemented through schools (K-12 School- based programs), community agencies (Community-Based Organization programs) and colleges and universities (Higher Educational programs).

Mandatory service: Community service which is required as part of an academic program, usually high school graduation. School-mandated community service may set required hours, type of service and/or duration. This type of community-service is to be distinguished from court-ordered service defined above.

Mentoring: Mentoring refers to a one-to-one relationship between a more experienced person and a younger person involving mutual commitment, caring and trust. While not a requirement, many mentoring programs encompass community service learning activities. Mentors help identify opportunities and/or work along side young people in volunteer activities.

Not-for-Profit Agency: A non-governmental organization whose purpose is to address human, environmental and other community concerns and needs. Most not-for-profit agencies are tax-exempt and tax-deductible and classified as 501(c)(3) institutions. Not-for-profit agencies cannot sell stock, declare dividends or pay their officers or directors other than through salary.

Participatory Research: Community action research is a process in which information gathering, learning about a community, critical analysis, producing a profile or study and a process of social change can be integrated into a single cyclical process.

Briefly, in community action research an action group is formed where most of the members of the action group are community members. The action group works with other members of the community in a social action process to bring about improvements which are desired by community members. As part of this the action group and other participants learn more about the community they are part of, engage in critical dialogue, prepare and implement a plan for social change, and evaluate the effects of their action.

Reflection: Contemplation and consideration regarding the significance of the community service work performed; evaluation of the value and meaning of the specific community service as it relates to a larger context. Reflection can take place on an individual or group basis and connect community service to one's community, one's values and the impact it has on both the individual performing the work as well as the larger society.

School-to-Work: A system of school-based learning, work-based learning and activities connecting the two in order to prepare youth for the high wage, high skill careers of today's and tomorrow's global economy.

Service: The primary focus [is] on the service being provided as well as the benefits the service activities have on the recipients. The students receive some benefits by learning more about how their service makes a difference.

Service-Learning: A form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of service-learning.

  • SERVICE LEARNING IS:
    • A method of teaching that combines community service with curriculum-based learning.
    • About Students helping to determine and meet real, defined community needs.
    • An approach to teaching and learning that can be used in any curriculum area as long as it is appropriate to learning goods.
    • For all ages, even the youngest children
  • SERVICE LEARNING IS NOT:
    • Volunteer or community service program with no ties with academics
    • An add-on to existing curriculum
    • Compensatory service assigned as a form of punishment by the courts or school administrators
    • One-sided ... benefiting either the student of the community only

Stipend: Payment to volunteer to help offset the costs of service.

Volunteer: A person who donates or gives his or her time and talents to provide services to other people, or to the community-at-large.

Volunteerism: The primary emphasis is on the service being provided and the primary intended beneficiary is clearly the service recipient.

Volunteer Site Coordinator: An individual who recruits, trains and supervises volunteers. May also be referred to as a community service site supervisor.