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Community service is the practice of altruism within one's community. People become involved in community service for many reasons: for some, serving community is an altruistic act, for others it is a punishment.

Community service therefore refers to projects that members of certain youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, Camp Fire USA, Key Club International, JROTC's and some high school students perform. It is also an alternative sentencing technique in a justice system. And at times groups of people will commit to perform service to the community as part of the gift economy.

Mandatory Community Research has recently increased in many schools in the United Statesmarker. A study was done that correlates community service with academic success; it was found that there is a strong positive association between students who maintain a weekly community service record and their GPA than those that don't at all.

Examples of community service projects include:
  • Cleaning a park.
  • Collecting items for charity such as clothes, food, or furniture.

  • Cleaning roadside verges.
  • Helping the elderly in nursing homes.
  • Helping the local fire or police service.
  • Helping out at a local library.
  • Tutoring children with learning disabilities.
  • Participating in school activities that benefit the wider community.

Youth community service

Community service by youth is often called youth service. It is a tool that is intended both to strengthen young peoples' senses of civic engagement and nationalism , and to help them achieve their educational, developmental and social goals.

Youth service is at times similar to that done by people convicted of crimes. It can also entail other types of service. For example, a Boy Scout may undertake improvement projects - such as repairing a structure.

Youth service is often a requirement for advancement, for example for a Scout to advance to the next rank or for a high school student to advance to the next grade level or to graduate.

Service learning is the deliberate connection of community service to stated learning goals. A common misconception among educators, youth workers, and young people is the notion that service learning can be assigned. Several experts attest to the necessity of engaging youth in deliberating, planning, implementing, and reflecting on their community service, thereby sustaining high-quality service learning. This is intended to make community service an effective learning tool.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland, College Parkmarker researches young people and their community service. CIRCLE analyzes trends in community service/volunteering over time and by subgroups, such as sex, race and ethnicity.

Youth organizations

The highest rank of Scouting in the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout, requires each Scout to prepare a service project and lead it in their community. The highest award in the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Gold Award, involves setting up a similar service project. Other youth organizations actively involved in community service include Camp Fire USA, 4-H, DeMolay, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls,Civil Air Patrol, Key Club, and SkillsUSA.

High school graduation

In many educational jurisdictions in the United Statesmarker, a certain number of hours of community service is required to graduate from high school. In some high schools in Washington Statemarker, for example, students must complete 60 hours of community service to receive a high school diploma. Some Washington school districts, including Seattle Public Schools, have differentiated between community service and "service learning," requiring students to demonstrate that their work has contributed to their education. If a student in high school is taking an AVID course, community service is required.

Clonlara School and its Home Based Education Program in Ann Arbor, Michiganmarker require 180 hours of community service.

Studies have shown that students who complete service to others are more successful a

Conditions of participation

Contribution of service is a condition of enrollment in some programs. Most commonly, parents may be required to serve for their child to be enrolled in a school or sports team.


Community Service is also used by high school seniors wishing to enter college. Though technically not a requirement, most colleges generally use community service as an unofficial college requirement for acceptance. However, some colleges prefer work experience over community service, and some colleges also require that their students also continue community service for some specific number of hours to graduate.

Many community service projects are done by sororities and fraternities. For example, Alpha Phi Omega professes to be centered around the purpose of doing community service.

Alternative sentencing

In this form of community service, those convicted of crimes are required to perform community services or to work for agencies in the sentencing jurisdiction either entirely or partly in lieu of other judicial remedies and sanctions, such as incarceration or fines.

For instance, a fine may be reduced in exchange for a prescribed number of hours of community service. The convict may be able to choose their community service, which then must be documented by credible agencies, or they may be ordered by the court which services they must do.

Sometimes the sentencing is specifically targeted to the convict's crime, for example, a litterer may have to clean a park or roadside, or a drunk driver being required to appear before school groups to explain why drunk driving is a crime. Also, a sentence allowing for a broader choice in service to be rendered may nonetheless disallow certain services that the offender would reasonably be expected to perform anyway from being counted, for example, a convicted lawyer might be specifically prohibited from counting pro bono legal services as community service.

Most jurisdictions in the United States have programs by which minor offenders may be required by the court to perform work for city or county agencies under the supervision of the police or sheriff's department, often on weekends, as an alternative to confinement in jail. Jail and prison inmates are also typically used for labor either while inside, or at outside work benefiting society, such as in light manufacturing, repair work, office work, on labor camps or farms, on chain gangs or on land conservation projects. This is, however, more properly considered a form of penal labor rather than community service.

At least part of the philosophy behind this kind of sentencing is that to provide a service to the community is more beneficial than punishment for its own sake. Through community service, the community sees a benefit while saving the costs associated with incarceration of the convict and having the work carried out by paid staff. It is also thought to be a way to educate the convict in what is ethically acceptable behavior. Opponents have concerns that making community service a punishment sets a poor example for other groups such as young people and make them reluctant to do it voluntarily.

Corporate social responsibility

Some employers involve their staff in some kind of community service programming, such as with the United Way of America. This may be completely voluntary or a condition of employment, or anything in between.

Outside the United States

In Europe and Australia, community service is an option for many criminal sentences as an alternative to incarceration. In the United Kingdommarker, community service is now officially referred to by the Home Office as more straightforward "compulsory unpaid work". link

See also

External links



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