Youth-Led Service-Learning Project

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Facilitate a Service-Learning Project led by Youth and Guided by Community Needs: Service-learning is a specific process in which youth identify their passions, investigate what is needed in their community, explore options and gain skills, and take action (direct, indirect, or advocacy). Youth learn about their communities and how they can help others with their time and talent – their unique gift. Giving solves problems while it promotes happiness and purpose and teaches the givers that they are a vital part of something bigger.

This resource was developed in collaboration with the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) Youth Philanthropy Task Force powered by Michigan youth, CMF members, and nonprofit leaders. For links to all the resources, go back to the overview. 

Facilitate a Service-Learning Project led by Youth and Guided by Community Needs

“Planning and carrying out a service-learning project is hard work, but it is worth it,” says Macey, youth President of the Calhoun County 4-H Council. 

Young people are powerful. They lead with innovative and timely ideas and collaboration. They can do important work NOW. When youth take action with passion, they gain a sense of their own identity, value, and purpose, which is the foundation of social-emotional learning. Youth learn vocabulary and ways to give, as well as the variety of roles in the nonprofit sector. 

Service-learning equips youth with the full power of philanthropy related to justice, cultural awareness, civic engagement, advocacy, problem-solving, taking action to address a need, planning, leadership, and community building.

Service-Learning Process With Youth, Not For Youth

Investigate Issues and Self > Plan Meaningful Service > Take Action > Continuously Reflect > Demonstrate to Outside Audience

Service-Learning is an effective process for empowering youth to investigate what is needed in their community, explore options, gain knowledge, and take action (direct, indirect, or advocacy) that fits their skills and time.   

The guide below facilitates a process in which youth learn about their communities and how they can help others with their voice, time, and talent – their unique gift. The skills, practices, relationships, and reflection help us build a more connected community. At any age, giving promotes happiness and purpose, while teaching the givers that they are a vital part of something bigger. 


View Guide


Adult Role in Service-Learning

Adult facilitators can act as guides on the side, supporting youth and promoting a solution-building experience. You may have read about these youth leaders supported by their communities and families:

  • This bold, solutions-driven engagement was exemplified when Stoneman Douglas High School youth called on policy-makers and the government to address gun control after a former student killed 17 of their classmates at their Florida school.
  • Young Malala was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize after she led activism around the world for girls’ education. This was after she was shot in Pakistan for speaking up.

The whole nation listened to those youth. The young people learned about leadership, government and laws, advocacy, the importance of civic engagement, and much more. They were the leaders, and caring adults listened to and supported them with encouragement or access to resources. Explore Different Facilitator Roles       

Links & Attachments