The Center
Service Learning in Illinois

Since 1994, the Illinois Resource Center (IRC) has provided training and technical assistance for recipients of the Illinois K-12 School-Based Learn and Serve grants. These grants, which are determined by the Illinois State Board of Education, foster the growth of service learning - a curriculum-based pedagogical method that is rapidly gaining acceptance across the nation. What is Service Learning? The Corporation for National Service, the federal agency that supports Learn and Serve, as well as several other service and volunteer initiatives, defines "service learning" this way:

Service-learning is a method by which students improve academic learning and develop personal skills through structured service projects that meet community needs. Service-learning builds upon students' service activities by providing them with opportunities to learn by preparing, leading, and reflecting upon their service experiences.

In their Learn and Serve projects, Illinois students, at all grade levels, volunteer or provide service in a variety of ways, including through:

  • intergenerational work with senior citizens and nursing home residents
  • work with the homeless
  • historical preservation and local history
  • parks and community recreational development and community beautification
  • prairie and stream bank restoration
  • suburban/inner-city school partnerships
  • recycling projects
  • drug, violence and gang awareness
  • support for integration of minority groups and immigrants into the community
  • peer tutoring and mentoring

There are many high quality models of service-learning in Illinois, and one of the goals of the IRC is to share information about these activities as widely as possible. The IRC's technical assistance includes:

  • offering workshops and training in the best practices of service-learning
  • distributing service-learning resource materials
  • maintaining an extensive library of service-learning books, pamphlets and videotapes
  • organizing annual meetings and conferences focusing on service-learning
  • visiting local schools to explain service-learning or provide technical assistance to existing programs

For assistance with service-learning resources, contact Mike Mangan, The Center, 2626 S. Clearbrook Dr., Arlington Heights, IL 60005, phone (224) 366-8534 or e-mail

For information about additional service learning resources available through the Illinois State Board of Education, contact the state's Learn and Serve web page:



To learn more about service learning in Illinois please visit, or contact Mike Mangan, The Center’s Service-Learning Coordinator,, phone: 224/366-8534