Service in Schools

Students decorate reusable bags to promote sustainability

The NYC Department of Education's Service in Schools initiative began in August 2010 in partnership with NYC Service, Office of the Mayor.

Service in Schools works to increase the number of students doing community service and service-learning. We believe these experiences enable students to use their voices, skills, and critical thinking abilities to make a positive impact in their communities and the world.

During the 2016-17 school year:

  • 442,452 students in NYC public schools participated in at least one school-led service and/or service-learning activity
  • Students performed more than 11,475 school-led service and/or service-learning projects
  • An overwhelming majority of schools we surveyed reported that school-led service and/or service-learning activities have a positive impact on their students’ development and ability to benefit their community
  • About 93% of schools we surveyed said that they accessed resources and/or partnered with at least one external organization to support their service initiatives
High school student leaders presenting at Youth Service Summit


Service-learning combines meaningful community service with classroom curriculum. Learn how to get students started with service-learning projects.

Community Service

Through community service, students use real-life solutions to help communities. Learn how to get a community service project started.

Service in Schools Kids Action Team

Elementary school students can form a Kids Action Team at their school. The team meets at least once a week and carry out a service-learning project that meets a community need. Through the Kids Action Team, students brainstorm, plan, and gain experience presenting their work to both peers and adults. Find out more about Kids Action Teams.

Race Against Waste

Race Against Waste supports teams of middle- and high-school students as they investigate waste in their community and develop a service-learning project to address it. It is an after-school program that meets weekly from December through May. Through Race Against Waste, each Green Team will plan, carry out, and document a service-learning project that serves a community need. They will also learn from experts in the field of waste reduction. Find out how to bring a Race Against Waste Green Team to your school.

Youth Service Summit

The Service in Schools Youth Service Summit is a day of service to mobilize elementary school youth across the city. Students engage in service projects led by high school student leaders that address local and global issues. These can include homelessness, hunger, health, the environment, and animal welfare. 

The summit culminates in a celebration in which students reflect on the power of youth to make change in their communities on a school, neighborhood—even worldwide—basis. Learn how to take part in the Service in Schools Youth Service Summit. 


Many organizations work with New York City public schools to engage students in community service and service-learning. Learn about youth service organizations in NYC.

Back to Top