Service Learning

Urban School is committed to extending education beyond the walls of the school. Urban's pioneering four-year community service learning program encompasses multicultural education, civic engagement and community service. Through classroom discussion, community projects and self-reflection, students become responsible, resourceful citizens with a sense of personal, social and political awareness. Freshmen prepare for engagement in the local community through an exploration of race, ethnicity, culture, immigration and class and the impact these factors have on one's identity and experiences. Sophomores extend this understanding outward by looking at the needs of the local community and engaging in group service projects. Juniors and seniors deepen their understanding of citizenship by engaging in independent community service projects. Community service learning helps Urban students become responsible, resourceful citizens, often achieving a level of social and political awareness that is rare among teenagers.

Required Service Courses by Grade

Freshman Service

Freshman Service Learning: Identity and Ethnic Studies is a six-week Freshman course designed for students to explore their identity and culture, as well as examine historical factors that shape social constructions such as race, ethnicity, nationality and class. This is an introductory course to the four-year Service Learning Program at Urban. The course will provide students with foundational tools, language and concepts for thoughtful and engaged community and global citizenship, which will be explored further during their 10th-12th grade Service Learning courses. Students are expected to understand how factors such as race, ethnicity, culture and immigration help shape one’s identity and experiences. They are expected to further develop their sense of self-awareness, personal responsibility and purpose through the completion of an online journal, daily homework assignments, unit projects and a culminating final project.

Sophomore Service

Sophomore Service Learning: Identity and Community Partnerships is a six-week course that prepares Sophomores to become responsible and resourceful citizens who partner with non-profit agencies and organizations working to serve a range of local needs and issues. The course introduces students to frameworks for effective citizenship, community engagement, and professionalism. Students partner with organizations such as the Chinese Immersion School at De Avila Elementary, Reading Partners, Playworks, Institute on Aging and Mercy Housing. There are three key course goals:
1) Introduce students to working with a community partner
2) Prepare students for independent 11th grade service learning internships
3) Review and preview how factors such as race, ethnicity, culture and class help shape one’s identities and experiences.

Throughout the six weeks of the course, students are expected to participate during in-class activities and discussions, as well as work in small groups to partner with a local agency or organization. They are also expected to identify a potential 11th grade independent service learning internship by creating a final proposal about an organization whose mission aligns with their individual passions, skills and values. Students are assessed on the quality and sincerity of their participation, written reflections, project proposals and presentations.


Junior Service

Junior Service Learning Independent Internship and Seminar: Identity at Urban and Beyond is a 12-week course where students pursue independent service learning internships in the larger community once a week and engage in a twice-weekly seminar to arrive at new understandings of identity, social constructs and the influences they have on their experiences. Through weekly journals, in-class activities, and group discussions, students identify and challenge their initial assumptions and explore their identities in relation to society at large. Additionally, students explore mediums for positive community engagement through the inclusion of multiple perspectives. Students are evaluated on the quality and commitment of their endeavors, written reflections, an annotated bibliography coupled with a class presentation and authentic participation in all parts of the course.

Senior Service

Senior Service Learning: Independent Internship and Synthesis Seminar is a 12-week course in which students continue to pursue independent service learning internships in the larger community and engage in twice-weekly synthesis seminars to bring together their three previous years of coursework in the department. In these seminars, students will deepen their understanding of the social context of their service internship. The purpose of the course is to serve as a stepping-stone for students to become fully and independently engaged citizens beyond the walls of Urban. In the fourth year of the Service Learning program, students will conduct an active inquiry using principles from Participatory Action Research on a group-elected issue. Students are assessed through their engagement in weekly blog posts on a social media site and participation in class discussions. The final assignment for this class consists of a letter of recommendation from their site supervisor, a final resume and a final group presentation on their topic.