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What are the Benefits of Service Learning Programs?

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

Service learning programs help build stronger communities by bringing young people, community-based organizations and ordinary citizens together in support of worthy causes. Other benefits intrinsic to such programs include the opportunity for volunteers to learn new skills and meet new people while addressing a community’s needs. Young people who volunteer with service learning programs tend to perform better academically, discover new interests and often form lasting relationships with other participants. Perhaps the greatest benefit, however, is that programs often inspire a new generation of civic workers, activists and leaders.

Whether participating in international service learning or community service within one’s own neighborhood, service learning programs offer an organized setting for people to combine energy and resources in support of common goals. Through volunteering, most people discover new interests, while developing new skills and talents. Service learning programs also teach lessons involving the value of working together as a team in an effort to improve certain community conditions.

Service learning teaches empathy for those less fortunate.
Service learning teaches empathy for those less fortunate.

It is often the case that service learning programs bring groups of people together who may not otherwise interact with one another. Through the implementation of structured service learning ideas, young volunteers and other community members are able to bond over similar interests involving community improvement. While service ideas vary according to a community’s needs, many revolve around volunteering at homeless shelters, mentoring disadvantaged youth and providing assistance to families suffering from domestic violence. Service learning programs help raise student awareness about real issues while helping to empower and inspire students, as well as community members, to create positive change.

Beyond learning opportunities and community improvement efforts, participation in service learning programs also offers students awards and scholarship opportunities. These help build a student’s self-esteem while offsetting college tuition costs at the same time. Whether volunteering individually or as part of a group, students typically feel a sense of accomplishment and an ongoing sense of responsibility to community after participating in service learning projects.

Community-based organizations also benefit from service learning programs in that financial resources and staff hours that would ordinarily be spent on accomplishing community outreach goals are conserved when volunteers donate time through participation. In saving money this way, organizations are able to broaden outreach efforts and serve the community to an even greater capacity. Organizations often find that fresh perspectives, approaches and innovative ideas often come from young volunteers, as well.

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    • Service learning teaches empathy for those less fortunate.
      By: Jasmin Merdan
      Service learning teaches empathy for those less fortunate.