Year of Service

Too often, high schools treat community service like a box to be checked. They focus on tracking hours over tracking impact, on quantity instead of quality. The implication is that once you’ve done your time and checked your box, the job is done.

At University High School, true from-the-heart community service has always been an important component of our community, rooted in the core value of Stewardship. From initial partnerships with Brooke’s Place and the Lord’s Pantry to our more comprehensive Year of Service program, we seek to help students find meaningful ways to understand the problems facing our world and engage in solutions.

How Year of Service Works

University High School’s Year of Service is a school-wide program intended to teach students about authentic, sustainable, and long-term service that makes a significant impact. Students identify a cause they care about, work with others who share that passion, research the issues that impact their cause, and develop a project to benefit some aspect of that cause. By dedicating time to projects that involve research, planning, leadership, action, reflection, and opportunities to share, we hope to provide students with an experience that reaches beyond logging hours or donating supplies.

For example, in 2015, students in the Aging group discovered research that suggested while senior citizens are using the Internet and online technologies more than ever before, they also are more susceptible to identity theft and online fraud. The students recognized that, as digital natives, they have expertise on Internet safety that they could share. So they spent their Year of Service designing and delivering a training on Internet safety for senior citizens.

In 2014-15, Year of Service causes included the following (each cause comprised several sub-groups):

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Civic Engagement
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Poverty
  • Prejudice
  • Public Safety
  • Substance Abuse

Hear from a Year of Service Group

Level 100 Year of Service

Level 100

Introduction to Service. Level 100 projects include an introduction to 

– Level 100 — Introduction to Service. This level is open to freshmen and sophomores only. Level 100 projects will include an introduction to community service and service-based learning, and they will focus on direct service, like volunteering.
– Level 200 — Advanced ServiceThis level is required of juniors and seniors, but freshmen and sophomores may choose this level as well. Level 200 projects will be designed by the students to make a significant impact on a local community issue.
– Level 300 — Service Leadership Track. This level is designed for highly motivated students who have some leadership experience. Students in this level will participate in 200-level projects and will also participate in the Jefferson Foundation Awards Students in Action program.
Level 200 Year of Service
Year of Service Level 300

I won an essay contest about my experience in the prison and incarceration Year of Service group, and how it relates to social justice here at Loyola University Chicago. I got to choose between a book scholarship and a chance to speak, and I chose to speak. The event is tonight, and I just wanted to say how great my experience at University High School was and how it is helping me here at college. Thank you for the opportunities and experiences that could have only been provided to me by you.


Class of 2016

Year of Service was a great experience that has definitely added to my overall high school experience. It was a creative way to connect with the Indianapolis community and get a feel for the present social issues. I think it was so meaningful because it encouraged individual ideas and work to help improve the community.

Grace Rozembajier

Class of 2019