Community Service

Community service is an activity that engages students with real-life solutions to strengthen communities.

Upcoming Community Service Opportunities

These opportunities are for educators, students, and school leaders who want to develop community service activities with their school. These approaching deadlines and events are updated regularly and are listed in chronological order.

  • All Schools: Free Community Service Clubs

      Contact: Elise Henson at

      GenerationOn invites NYC educators, parents, and students to start a GenerationOn Service Club in their schools. GenerationOn's club model includes Kids Care Clubs for elementary students, led by adult facilitators, as well as generationOn Clubs for middle and high school students, led by youth themselves with support from an adult advisor. Club members implement meaningful hands-on service projects locally, nationally and globally. Registered clubs in both programs gain access to extensive generationOn resources including service project ideas, mini-grant opportunities, story sharing and recognition. Registration is free. Learn more about Kids Care Clubs and about GenerationOn Clubs.

  • Middle and High Schools: Volunteer with the Youth Service Opportunities Project


      The Youth Service Opportunities Project offers middle school and high school students meaningful volunteer work, combined with a orientation and reflection. Members of this project provide vital services to those in need while reflecting on their experiences and broadening their perspective. Students help the hungry and homeless people of New York City through their work in shelters, soup kitchens, schools, food and clothing banks and other direct-service institutions. Students volunteer in a Workcamp environment, which helps build team spirit and give them direction. Learn more and apply.

  • All Schools: Free Penny Harvest Program

      Contact: Gracie Rifino at 212-579-0579ext.114 or

      Common Cents invites schools to join 700 NYC schools each Fall in the Penny Harvest, the largest student philanthropy and community service program in NYC. This program helps schools develop a lasting culture of service by providing the training, tools, and support for teachers and students.

      To participate, schools must commit two dedicated staff members to serve as Penny Harvest Coaches who will engage the whole school in community service and provide a year-long leadership program to 10-15 of students. Common Cents provides year-long, age-appropriate curriculum tied to national standards, and two full days of professional development for Penny Harvest Coaches, along with school support throughout the program year. 
      Sign up today.

  • High Schools: Apply Now for Best Buddies Student Friendship Clubs
      Contact: Stephanie Jimenez /917-225-0109

      Best Buddies invites NYC principals, teachers, and students to start a Best Buddies chapter in their schools. Best Buddies club model celebrates social inclusion by building friendships between students with and without disabilities. Club members organize meaningful activities and service projects and gain lifelong skills through their friendships. School partnerships are available throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Registered clubs gain access to extensive Best Buddies resources including local and national trainings, networking events, and volunteer opportunities. Learn more about Best Buddies International here

    Elementary Schools: Apply for the Service in Schools Youth Service Summit!

    Are you interested in engaging your elementary school students in service? If so, apply for the Youth Service Summit! The Youth Service Summit will be an extraordinary day of service that will inspire, equip, and mobilize youth from schools across the city to become agents of change in communities near and far. Select New York City public school elementary students in grades 3-5 will participate in a variety of meaningful service projects led by local high school student leaders. Service activities will impact local and global issues from poverty, health, hunger, literacy, civic engagement, bullying, the environment and more. The event will culminate with a reflection session and call to action where students will celebrate how they positively impacted communities in need and how they can continue this momentum in their own community, both at school and at home. Service in Schools and generationOn are partnering to host the Youth Service Summit on Friday, May 22, 2015. For more information and to apply, click here. Applications are due by no later than 5:00p.m. Friday, April 24, 2015. For questions, email

    Planning Guides and Resources

    Getting started in community service? These planning guides and resources will help inspire and develop community service with your school.

    A+ Fundraisers for High Schools Guide and Toolkit
    This contains tips from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to implement a successful fundraiser to help keep the community healthy.

    CBK Associates/ABCD Books
    On the CBK Associates/ABCD Books website, you will find a wide set of free materials that can assist your service-learning program at any stage of development. Under Resources, find numerous articles by Cathryn Berger Kaye that promote "Meaningful Reflection," "Guideposts to a Meaningful Service Learning Program" and more. By clicking on Blog, find answers to critical questions to advance service learning and examples of student action from all over the world. From this blog, for example, you can download four free service learning student guides. For free curriculum, click here.

    Common Cents’ Organization Finder and Penny Harvest Program
    This search engine allows NYC students to find organizations by borough, issue (for example, “health and wellness” and “animals”), and keywords. All organizations listed support students’ efforts to improve communities.

    Global Youth Service Day
    Global Youth Service Day, an annual campaign of Youth Service America, mobilizes millions of students to improve their communities each day of the year through community service. Download free service project planning guides, including the “YOUth Changing the World Toolkit” and “YOUth Changing the World Tipsheets.”

    Grow to Learn: Citywide School Gardens Initiative
    This initiative facilitates and promotes the creation of a school garden in every school. Grow to Learn offers guides, grants, and methods of support to engage students in learning, growing, and supporting their community through gardening.

    Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots
    This resource provides free project planning documents for community service that supports the animal community, human community, and environment. Materials include the Roots & Shoots Formula Toolkit, curriculum materials, and access to online Roots & Shoots courses.

    NYC Compost Project
    Created by the NYC Department of Sanitation, this project provides schools with workshops on indoor and outdoor composting. Schools can also be connected to a community compost site to give students hands-on experience to compost and help their environment.

    NYC Service’s Volunteer Project Finder
    This database allows school staff and students to locate volunteer opportunities by age requirements, borough/ zip code, interests and issues, skill sets, keywords, and dates.

    New York Cares Youth Volunteering Programs
    Students can find a variety of New York Cares’ opportunities to serve their community throughout the year. There are one-time and long-term projects to engage in community service. New York Cares offers teen friendly volunteer opportunities for groups of young people. Click here to learn more about these teen group opportunities.

    Youth Service America 
    Find free tools and guides to enhance service and service-learning in your school, including "A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging a New Generation of Anti-Hunger Leaders,” “Classrooms with a Cause," “Youth Changing the World: A Service Project Toolkit,” and "Semester of Service."