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


Multidisciplinary Service Courses

Global Migration: Who, Where, Why examines current trends in the movement of people around the world. We will cover three themes—war and violence, poverty and climate change—and how each impacts the movement of people. The goal of this course is to humanize the immigration debate and offer a deeper context of push and pull factors in the movement of people. In case studies and in engaging with local community organizations in the Bay Area working on migration issues, students will achieve a deeper and more nuanced understanding of global migration trends, social issues impacting migration, and the practical efforts of local organizations that work on migration issues. In addition to academic study and research, students will partner with a local organization serving the immigrant community in the Bay Area. This course is multidisciplinary and also meets the requirement for the Senior Service Learning course. The course will start with introductory frameworks around global migration, including international standards for refugees and migrant workers. Students will then investigate three different case studies looking at historical contexts and root causes of migration, experiences of migration, and experiences upon arrival. Students will conduct a final case study research project on a topic examining migration from one of three perspectives: South to South, South to North, or internal migration. (½ Credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

Voices of Incarceration addresses the problem of “attention violence,” so named by civil rights activist Reverend William Barber II, describing how we turn our eyes away from the experiences of people who need it most. More than 70 million Americans bear the marks of the legal system, and they—and their families—have been victims of that “attention violence.” This elective aims to turn the light of our shared attention upon them: their individual experiences, as well as the systems, beliefs and practices that created our current era of mass criminalization. Many forces converge to give America the highest incarceration rate in the world, from policing, to policy, to the legal system, to the emphasis on “correction” rather than “rehabilitation.” As we learn about the root causes and possible solutions for this issue, our readings, and the content of the course, will come primarily from those directly impacted. We’ll listen to podcasts and interviews, and we’ll meet with speakers who have been released back into their communities after spending decades under the surveillance of the state. Students will also partner with individuals and organizations that are working to change the experience of people-in-custody. (1/2 credit that can count toward English requirement or toward Service Learning 12 requirement) (Juniors and Seniors only)