Service Learning PRogram

Application MaterialsResources

“I truly believe these service-learning experiences have made me a more effective teacher and have provided students a voice and a chance to show how much of a difference they can make as a citizen, even at a young age.”
-Barry J. Guillot, NBCT | 8th Grade Earth Science, Harry Hurst Middle School


The STEM Library Lab Service Learning Program for K-12 schools in Louisiana and Mississippi is generously funded by the Brown Foundation. Service Learning projects give students the opportunity to meet community
needs through hands-on experiences that extend beyond the classroom. Applications for funding for the 2022-2023 school year will be accepted through May 6, 2022.

The Service Learning Program adheres to the National Youth Leadership Council definition and standards of Service Learning. All funded service-learning programs must include classroom learning and require a partnership with a service organization (such as a non-profit or school other than your own). Also, the programs must follow the IPARD (Investigation, Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration) model developed by NYLC.

We recommend that all new teachers attend a service learning workshop to learn more about service learning and the application process. Upcoming current workshops are listed here.

What is Service Learning?

Service learning is a teaching strategy allows students to apply academic learning to real-world problems. This method of instruction engages students in solving problems within their communities as part of their academic studies. Students can see the relevance of what they are learning and experience how they can make a difference. Service learning is tied to classroom learning in the subject area being studied. It also requires ongoing reflection exercises that showcase how and what the student learned within the activity.

To be clear, service learning is not synonymous with community service or volunteerism. Community service and volunteerism do not typically include an academic component. The planning is typically the responsibility of the school or an agency with little to no input from students. Participants usually do not learn about social issues in any organized fashion. Finally, there is no focus on reflection, building partnerships or improving knowledge and skills.

Benefits of Service Learning

Students gain…
21st century skills: critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, decision-making, collaboration, and communication
Deeper connection between academic knowledge and real-world applications
Greater understanding of themselves and empathy and respect for others
Opportunities to explore skills and interests and to network for career readiness
Provides enhanced awareness and understanding of social issues
Guided practice in active and effective citizenship
Increased self-efficacy as they address community needs

Schools gain…
Increased pro-social behavior and student engagement
An effective drop-out prevention strategy
Positive school-community relationships

Communities gain…
Energy and creativity of youth in addressing communities needs
Opportunities to build positive relationships between community and schools
New perspectives on youth as assets, not liabilities

Principal’s Award
As an added incentive, a “Principal’s Award” of $500 is given to each school that is awarded funding for one or more service learning projects. These are unrestricted funds to benefit the school’s students, service learning program, or other projects.

The IPARD Framework

The IPARD Framework represents the student-centered inquiry model in a service-learning project. Service-learning takes students through a five-stage process of Investigation, Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration (IPARD).

Investigation: Identify a need or area of interest in their school or community.
Preparation and Planning: Engage in planning, implementation, and evaluation processes.
Action: Begin the act of service.
Reflection: Reflect on the experience before, during, and after.
Demonstration: Share their experience with family, friends, school and/or community.

According to the National Youth Leadership Council, “Every part of the [IPARD] process is rich with learning and growth opportunities, many of them happening as students investigate community needs, identify a doable
action, plan and carry out service activities, reflect throughout the process, and share their learnings with the larger community. Even when the action seems complete, the transformation power of the process continues as students, teachers, and communities grow and new needs arise.”

Annual Art Contest

The Brown Foundation Service Learning Program sponsors an annual art contest for students in grades K-11. The 2021-2022 Theme and Logo Contest winner is Isabella Tran, a student at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans!