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.

  • Apply Now: Free Community Service Clubs

      Deadline: Ongoing
      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.

  • Apply Now: Volunteer with the Youth Service Opportunities Project

      Deadline: Ongoing

      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 work in a workcamp environment, which helps build team spirit and give them direction. Learn more and apply.

  • Apply Now: Free Service-Learning Program for Schools

      Deadline: Ongoing
      Contact: Laura Rog at 

      GenerationOn invites NYC schools to join their free service-learning program, which allows participating schools to receive service-learning professional development and 1,600+ service-learning and philanthropy education lesson plans for grades K-12, aligned to New York and Common Core Learning. Join today.

  • Free Penny Harvest Program for Grades K-12

      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 your whole school in community service and provide a year-long leadership program to 10-15 of your students. Common Cents provides year-long, age-appropriate curriculum tied to national standards, and two full days of professional development for your Penny Harvest Coaches, along with school support throughout the program year. Sign up today.

  • High Schools: Apply Now for Best Buddies Student Friendship Clubs
      Deadline: Ongoing
      Contact: Stephanie Jimenez

      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

    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.

    Common Cents’ Organization Finder
    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 is an annual campaign to mobilize the millions of students to improve their communities each day of the year through community service. Download free community service planning guides, including "Gathering Resources," "Preparation & Planning," "Choosing a Project," "Mobilizing Volunteers," and "Partnerships." 

    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 a community survey and a guide to choosing a project.

    NYC Compost Project
    Created by the NYC Department of Sanitation, this project gives schools 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.

    A helpful newsletter that sends educator and student subscribers volunteer opportunities that are aligned with their selected skills and interests.

    Youth Service America
    Find free guides to get started in community service, including "Effective Practices for Engaging At-Risk Youth in Service," the "Disney Action Plan," and "Effective Practices to Creating Inclusive and Accessible Days of Service."
    Youth Service Challenge
    Click on “See Examples” to find planning guides to develop school-based community service drives and donation collections that focus on health or the environment.  A program from the Jefferson Awards and Ways To Help, the Youth Service Challenge offers online resources come from a variety of partners, including Goodwill and BlueCross BlueShield.