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Service-learning is an opportunity for youth to learn and develop through active participation in organized service experiences that meet real community needs; provides structured time called reflection for youth to think, talk, or write about what they did and saw during the service activity; enables youth to utilize newly acquired skills and knowledge and apply them in real-life situations in their communities; and enhances what is taught in school by extending learning beyond the classroom and into the community.

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Needs Assessment

Needs assessment is at the beginning of the service-learning cycle when we are attempting to figure out what our project is going to be. At this point in the cycle, we look at our community to see any and all of the needs that need to be met. During the assessment, we decide which needs should be met before others. This is how we decide on our project.

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New Application

As the service-learning project comes to a close, efforts need to be made to help youth continue to use their new knowledge and skills to make decisions, solve problems and grow as caring, contributing members of their communities. Oftentimes, application questions are used to help guide members to summarize their experience and then take it to the next level by applying the experience to their thoughts and actions. Students should take what they learned and apply it to their own lives and projects. An application project may be a follow-up experience or reflection exercise.

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Preparation and Planning

Planning and preparation is a step in the Service-Learning Cycle when we prepare for the service project and plan step-by-step actions on how to carry out this project. The service-learning project preparation can include identifying and buying adequate materials and preparing the youth on what to expect and how to conduct themselves. Below are resources to assist you in planning and preparing for your service-learning project.

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Problem Solving

Youth were part of the project problem.

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Celebration is the point in the service-learning cycle where you celebrate the accomplishments of your project. We have provided some resources and links to assist you in conducting a celebration for your parish. Take a look whether you are just starting out with service-learning or if you need some new ideas.

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Community Ownership

It’s important that the service-learning project belongs to the participants and their community. Young people and community members should work together to identify community needs, plan service activities and evaluate the impact of the service-learning project. There are several key elements in an effective service learning program that engages the community.



Evaluation is an important part of the service-learning cycle. This is the step where you assess the project and see where changes need to be made. We then make those changes so that our project can be the best that it can be.

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Meaningful Service

Meaningful service is an important aspect of the service-learning cycle. Service-learning can be used to teach any subject and meet a wide variety of community needs. However, to provide valuable service, build civic skills and increase student achievement, project and program designers may wish to consider several factors to make the program experience effective. Read more about the elements of meaningful service in the articles below.

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Project Monitoring

Project monitoring is an efficient,
systematic method of framing,
implementing and monitoring
service-learning projects.
Project monitoring is a method
of breaking down a complex
service-learning project into
component parts (activities and
tasks), then planning, scheduling
and monitoring progress toward
the project’s completion.
Within the framework of project
monitoring are task identification,
resource (human, financial,
technological, etc.) allocation
and risk management.



Reflection is a very important
part of the Service-Learning
Cycle. It is where you look
back at the work you've done
and see where something
needs to be improved. We have
provided some links and resources
to assist you in coming up with
ideas for reflection activities.

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Youth Voice

Youth Voice is very important
in the service-learning process.
Youth Voice is defined as the
ideas, opinions, involvement and
initiative of people considered
to be “young.” Through Youth Voice,
youth feel ownership of their
projects throughout the
service-learning process.

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