Service-Learning Project Guidelines

Service-learning projects must meet each of Maryland’s 7 Best Practices of Service-Learning to qualify as hours earned toward the 75 hour Maryland  graduation requirement.

Service-learning experiences in Maryland must be inclusive and non-discriminatory. Activities that violate federal or state law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, sex, age, color, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability, may not be counted toward the service-learning graduation requirement. 

Service-learning experiences in Maryland must include: 

  1. Academic Preparation: Students must be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for their service activity. Preparation may include achieving curricular objectives, exploring the meaning of civic engagement, and learning about the community and how to identify its needs. 
    • Examples of Academic Preparation include learning from a guest speaker, meeting with a community partner, and conducting research on a particular issue or cause. 
  2. Service Activities: Students engage in purposeful, personally-relevant service-learning experiences. Students should spend a significant portion of their service-learning time engaged in meeting a recognized community need through direct, indirect, or advocacy service action. 
    • Direct Service: Students have direct contact with those they serve. 
      • Examples of Direct Service include tutoring, serving meals, visiting, providing care, etc.
    • Indirect Service: Students engage in a service activity without having direct contact, often to channel resources to help alleviate a community issue.
      • Examples of Indirect Service include providing technical assistance, hosting food and clothing drives, organizing walk-a-thons and fundraisers, participating in environmental projects, etc.
    • Advocacy Service: Students educate others about a particular nonpartisan topic with the goal of influencing change within a community.
      • Examples of Advocacy Service include contacting legislators, presenting before public officials, preparing and delivering a performance, creating and sharing media or other educational materials, etc.
  3. Structured Reflection: Students participate in ongoing reflection throughout a service-learning experience. Students contemplate and evaluate the service action and its impact on the community and on themselves, considering positives and negatives and adjustments that might be made to the activity. 
    • Examples of Structured Reflection include guided journal prompts, discussions, performance, artwork, etc.

Group of students in library


Lauren McKinley, M.Ed.
Service-Learning Specialist, Youth Development Branch
Office: (410) 767-0357

Reginald Burke, M.S.
Director, Youth Development Branch
Office: (410) 767-0313

Service-Learning Project Examples

Visit our Examples page to view completed service-learning projects.