Welcoming Refugees through Service-Learning
  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
      3. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
      2. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
      3. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      3. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe a service plan.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.

Students investigate, plan, and facilitate a service-learning project that benefits refugees in their community. 

Photo Credit: Refugees by Global Panorama is licensed by CC by 4.0 

PrintTwo 50-Minute Class Periods and time to carry out the project
  • research local organizations that support refugees. 
  • coordinate a service project with the school, local community, and nonprofit organizations. 
  • reflect on the project and share the results with the community. 
  1. Investigation

    Students are in groups for learning more about local organizations that help refugees. Each group chooses or is assigned to an organization to research. 

    The teacher lists on the board some organizations that help refugees. (A list of potential community partners is included in LTG's refugee toolkit, found here: /resources/refugees-our-community-service-learning-toolkit).

    The class brainstorms questions to ask the community partners to find out in what ways the organization helps refugees and what kind of actions the students could take to help.

  2. Groups of students contact the community partner, either by phone or by email. They ask the brainstormed questions and take notes to share with the rest of the class. 

  3. When each group of students has the information, the groups share with the class what they have learned about the community organizations, what they do, and what they need.

    The class discusses the gathered information and decides on an community partner and a project it would like to undertake.

  4. Planning and Preparation: Once the class has decided on a project, the planning begins!

    Collection Drive: If the group is undertaking a drive, either for money or for items, break down everything that will need to be done onto sticky notes.

    Then place the sticky notes on a timeline and assign groups of students to different tasks. (For example, a logistics group may be responsible to ask the principal if there is a place in the school where the items can be stored, locate boxes and tables to store the items, etc.; a publicity group may be responsible for making fliers and communicating with the school and community the need for items.)

    Allow the students to manage the sticky notes and timeline and hold one another accountable.

  5. Fundraising: If the group is collecting monetary donations, a good source for ideas and recommendations is in the handout below.

  6. Advocacy: Once the group has selected a community partner and learned what it does to help refugees, brainstorm ways to let the community know about the need.

    • What important things about refugees have you learned in class?
    • In what ways can the community help? (For example, can they volunteer to tutor or provide transportation? Can they donate specific items?)
    • How can you let the community know? (For example, make posters, hold a forum, use social media)
  7. Volunteering: If the group is going off-site for a service activity, spend time setting norms and expectations for behaviors while outside the building and in the community. Allow students to generate expectations for themselves and peers.

    If unexpected situations may occur during the service project due to its nature, anticipate these and have students role play ahead of time.

  8. Action: Student carry out their plan and document with journaling and photos. Reflect before, during, and after the action they take. 

  9. Reflection: When the service project is complete, give students some time to reflect. 

    • What is the most important thing you learned from this experience? Why?
    • How will this experience change your outlook or action in other parts of your life?
    • What, if anything, do you wish had gone differently?
    • What questions do you still have?


If possible, share the results with the community. Have a student from the school newspaper interview students about what they learned and write a story. If the project was a drive for items for refugees, invite a representative from the community partner to come and talk with the students, and let the local newspaper know about the event in advance.