Students » Service Learning

Service Learning

CPS Definition

Service-learning is a research-based teaching strategy and civic education practice that extends learning into the community and builds a strong sense of agency. It engages students in projects that serve the community while building social, civic, and academic skills. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for students to develop Common Core skills and 21st century skills (Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving) through project preparation and development, execution, and reflection.


Aside from fostering academic skills and preparing students to thrive in a 21st century world, service-learning fosters the skills necessary for students to become active participants in society. For example, the act of building and improving communities teaches students how to create positive change by identifying and acting upon local and global social concerns with the support of community partners. In addition, service-learning requires students to take into account multiple perspectives and explore the abstract connection between classroom content and global problems and solutions, broadening their worldview. Ultimately, by providing these rich and meaningful service-learning experiences, students grow and develop into global citizens that are prepared for all post-secondary endeavors.

Requirements for the Graduating Classes of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 ONLY

Chicago Public Schools requires that all students complete a total of 40 service-learning hours in order to graduate.

At Hancock, students are expected to fully participate in a minimum of two classroom-integrated service-learning projects during high school for a total of 30 service-learning hours. The remaining 10 hours must be completed independently by each individual student.

Students may also choose to complete independent service-learning projects, as long as their project is completed in connection with a CPS-approved community partner and has also been previously approved by Jennifer Alafnan, Hancock’s Service-Learning Coach.

All independent service-learning hours must be accompanied by a signed time sheet and a reflection.

*See Ms. Alafnan for time sheets or open attached documents to print.

Requirements for the Graduating Class of 2020 and Beyond

Chicago Public Schools has recently changed their service-learning policy to reflect the state-level Civics Education course mandate.

As a result, incoming freshmen are required to complete two service-learning projects. Students will complete one project in the sophomore English course and the other in the junior Civics or AP Government course.

Students who fail to complete the classroom-based service-learning projects by senior year will not be allowed to graduate until they have completed an independent service-learning project overseen by Ms. Alafnan, Hancock’s service-learning coach.

While it is not required, Hancock does recommend that students seek and participate in service-learning opportunities beyond what is needed for graduation. All independent projects can be coordinated with Ms. Alafnan and should be accompanied by a service-learning time sheet and reflection for credit.

*See Ms. Alafnan for time sheets or open attached documents to print.

Restricted Service Activities

Students may NOT earn service-learning credit through the following:
  • Work with for-profit businesses and corporations;
  • Work with religious organizations if the service involves promoting a particular faith;
  • Volunteer work where no academic objective is addressed;
  • Work that is financially reimbursed;
  • Participation in a sports team or other extra-curricular activity unless that group designs a service-learning project that contains the components listed above
  • Assisting a teacher (i.e. correcting papers, cleaning the classroom)
  • Artistic performances unless students are involved in creating a project that includes a performance as an outcome of the project
  • Attending a workshop, conference or other educational event unless that training leads directly to a service project.
For more information, visit the following link:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ms. Alafnan at




Alafnan, Jennifer