All youth, including those with disabilities can benefit from participation in service-learning.
Service-learning can improve character values and responsible behavior. Students can generalize what they learn from their experiences with service-learning. They learn how to be respectful toward others and toward public property, and they develop awareness of healthy life choices. Finally, they learn about cultural diversity and show more tolerance of ethnical diversity.1
Service-learning can improve academic outcomes for students. Students participating in high-quality service-learning experiences that are meaningful (including interaction with the community, valued service activities, and relevance to students), provide time for reflection, and last for an extended period of time have been shown to make academic gains, including gains on standardized tests.2 In addition, students have shown increased attachment to school, engagement, and motivation.3 With a sample that included students with mild disabilities, Brill4 found similar results for academic improvement and attendance.
Service-learning can promote a sense of connectedness to the school and the community. A sense of connectedness includes
Service-learning can promote social-emotional skills. Researchers have found a statistically significant impact of service-learning programs on multiple outcomes,6 including
Frey7 found that students with disabilities who participated in a yearlong service-learning project had lower reports of out-of-school suspension, rule noncompliance, incidents, profanity and obscenity, physical threats and intimidation, and vandalism. Krajewski and Callahan8 also found that participation in service-learning for high school students with moderate to severe disabilities helped improve students’ sense of self-worth. Brill9 found improvements for students with moderate to profound disabilities in socialization skills and their relationships with nondisabled peers.
Service-learning can promote civic participation. Research has shown that high-quality service-learning programs can promote students’ civic knowledge and commitment to continue contributing to their community and to society as a whole.10
Benefits to Organizations
Community-based organizations that engage young people in service-learning point to the following kinds of benefits:11
Benefits for Service Recipients, Communities, and Society
Beyond the young people the organizations directly involve, community-based service-learning benefits the people served, their communities, and, ultimately, society:
This section has been adapted from Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2007). Benefits of community-based service-learning. Scotts Valley, CA: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. Retrieved from
1 Leming, 2001; Lerner et al., 2008
2 RMC Research Corporation, 2007; Billig & Sandel, 2003; Scales, Blyth, Berkas, & Kielsmeier, 2000; Billig, Root, & Jesse, 2005
3 Billig & Sandel, 2003; Scales et al., 2000; Billig et al., 2005
4 Brill, 1994
5 Yamauchi, Billig, Meyer, & Hofschire, 2006
6 Deakin Crick et al., 2005; Irby, Ferber, & Pittman, 2001; Lerner et al., 2008; Michelsen, Zaff, & Hair, 2002
7 Frey, 2003
8 Krajewski & Callahan, 1998
9 Brill, 1994
10 Zaff & Lerner, 2010
11 Chung, 1997; Roehlkepartain, 1995; Naughton, 2000; Melchoir, 1998; reinforced by the general research on the benefits of all types of volunteers identified in Urban Institute, 2004
12 Mohamed, 2001, p. 15
13 Mohamed & Wheeler, 2001
Map My Community is a tool designed specifically to assist you in locating resources in your community to help you build and strengthen your youth program. Get ideas for new partnerships, identify gaps in your community, and learn about resources to avoid duplication of effort.
FindYouthInfo.gov is the U.S. government Web site that helps you create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs. Included are youth facts, funding information, and tools to help you assess community assets, generate maps of local and federal resources, search for evidence-based youth programs, and keep up-to-date on the latest, youth-related news.