Community Service: Policies & Definitions
- Students participate in service with and through nonprofit organizations. This criteria is fundamental and must be achieved in order to receive official credit on a student's school transcript. Please be mindful of this policy as you volunteer. If you have questions, please seek out advice from CS staff who can support you. For more information about how to figure out if your organization is a nonprofit, click here.
- Students must be enrolled at SI to obtain credit. Service before the start of Freshmen year cannot be credited towards the graduation requirement.
- Students must complete service between the first day of their Freshmen year and registration day of their senior year. The Service Requirement is due upon the start of a student's senior year.
- Students who volunteer within religious ceremonies (such as lecturing at mass, altar serving, music ministry etc.) will not receive transcript credit as we recognize these moments as prayer time not volunteer time. However, all other service to religious institutions, beyond ceremonial practice, is encouraged and SI credit can be obtained.
- Senior students who do are not complete with their requirement by registration day (either because they have not participated in service or because they have not yet provided official, written verification of service by that date) may be eligible to receive a one quarter extension if they are in good standing academically and co-curricularly with SI. This extension should not be expected, but should be requested by the student. The extension is pending on good standing at SI and will be provided by the Christian Service Director in consultation with the Principal of SI.
- Students that fail to finish this requirement by the end of the first quarter of senior year, may be ineligible to graduate.
- Service action with and through Nonprofit Organizations can be credited to a student’s service record. The only exception is fund solicitation or political activism (please see CS staff for these particular situations).
- Doing service is the first step. Submitting official verification of those actions is the second step.
- Students are empowered to provide official verification of service activity to the Community Service Office in a timely manner.
- Full credit will always be provided to students as long as this official verification is provided to CS within 6 months of service activity. For example, students volunteering during summer have until December to turn in paperwork for full credit.
- After 6 months, SI reserves the right to begin providing partial credit for late (and even later) documentation.
- Please note: The focus here is to encourage and remind students to be timely and to not wait to turn in verification. CS wants to maintain an active and up-to-date record of student service. We can only do this when students bring in materials to us on a regular basis.
- Students are asked to submit their verification forms to our CS office online or in person. When dropping off forms, students can meet CS staff and staff can ask any follow up questions, if needed.
- Finally, students are encouraged to always turn in any volunteer activity no matter how old or late. Staff are very committed to working with students and providing generous credit that reflects their hard work and prompt documentation.
- Service Verification forms are available outside the CS Office or online. Completion of this form is mandatory in order for SI to give academic credit for any and all service activities.
As part of this academic requirement, students must plan and participate in a Core Service Project. This Core Project is a key component of a student's SI service experience. Thus, whatever service a student does for their core project (as well as the hours accrued) will be applied towards their overarching requirement commitment.
Core Projects are aimed to involve every student in an Ignatian process of service with others. Core Projects provide students with the opportunity to plan and implement a service experience that places them actively within a nonprofit organization to address pressing social justice issues. As such, students are expected to keep in mind the following:
- Core Projects must go beyond our own parish or immediate community to provide direct, hands-on service to others in need. Students do this by volunteering for nonprofit organizations that seek to impact social justice, addressing issues that marginalize and hinder clients from reaching their fullest, God-given lives. SI challenges students to encounter those most fragile by forming relationships within communities that frequently experience marginalization within our society.
- Students are in the driver's seat on this project! They are in charge of crafting a project that embraces their own passions and that makes a difference in the lives of those most forgotten in our community. Students are encouraged to plan a project of any length. In fact, the longer the project, the more meaningful the relationships. SI invites students to make the most of their core project and plan a project that gets them integrated into the life of their nonprofit agency. No matter what you do, students should keep in mind that their project must have a minimum of 40 direct service hours to fulfill our Core Project goals.
- Core Projects require regular reflection! SI is a community of Contemplatives in Action! Students must make time to reflect, using the tools developed by CS. This is very important and a student will not be participating in a core project until they have received SI reflection materials.
- Students are empowered to prepare and present their Core Project concepts to CS staff. This is done through the Core Project Application--a homework assignment that should be used by each student as they create their project. This Application must be provided to CS in advance of your project starting. For more information on the Core Project application, click here.
How Can I start to Plan My Core Project? Click Here!
Mission/Service trips are experiences in which students travel (alongside other students and adults) into a new community, providing service to a local community. These trips often are accompanied by on-site reflection experiences and touring moments. As well, many students who participate in mission trips take time to be involved with pre-planning and fundraising for their experience. SI receives many questions about mission trips. Below are some of our policies and criteria. If you have questions, please come see our CS staff in person so that we can support you as you go forward.
Mission Trips are often experiences for which SI students can receive academic service credit. In order for you to receive such credit please be mindful of the following:
1.) Any mission trip must be organized with, through and for a nonprofit organization in order to obtain any SI academic credit. This criteria is critical. SI (as well as all other Jesuit educational institutions), uphold this criteria for official service credit. Students should be connected to a nonprofi organization in every stage of their mission trip experence.
2.) Please be mindful of this nonprofit criteria because academic credit cannot be granted for activity that is not completely and wholly connected through and with a non-profit organization.
3.) If the trip will be administered with and through a nonprofit organization (this includes church-based experiences) students should be confident that they will receive SI service credit. Service credit is provided for service activity done within the location of the mission trip. Students should be prepared to show your mission trip schedule so that SI will be able to provide accurate credit for those hours in which you did volunteer service.
If you are considering participating in a service trip, it is always good to check-in with CS staff. Please speak with Christian Service staff so that they can assist you in planning and provide support to you so that your activity can fit all SI eligibility requirements.
Many students want to use their mission/service trip experience as the basis for their Core Project. This too is a definite possibillity, particularly if the trip includes the following core components:
- Trip is with and through a local or international nonprofit organization;
- Students can provide verification that they will engage in at least 40 or more service hours on-site working directly with people in need; and
- Students prepare well in advance and fill out Core Application from SI to obtain prior approval. As well, students must remember to make time to receive their reflection materials before they depart on the trip.
Official service credit will be given by SI for the service action provided during the mission trip within the local community.
Mission trips typically include direct/on-site volunteering activities in conjunction with a comprehensive youth development program. These experiences, by their nature, often involve youth participants in activities that enhance the whole trip---such as daily reflection time, on-site education about the community, community tours, group building activities, Liturgy etc.
SI provides credit for any/all direct service during a mission trip (such as physical labor to build homes or time spent teaching kids in the community). Youth development components (fundraising, pre-trip training, team building activities, in-country touring) are a significant part of the mission trip experience. SI values the whole program of mission trips. Yet, only the actual time of direct, on-site service is able to be applied as academic credit. Students should be ready and able to provide clear documentation of the actual service engaged in during the trip.
When seeking academic credit for a mission/service trip, students must complete our SI Service Verification Form.
Often, it is very helpful to attach a written letter (on agency/church stationery) that outlines the trip's schedule, its service activities and timeline. This provides clear clarification of the actual service activity and will assist SI staff in providing full, timely credit.
As is typical, it is strongly recommended that students seek personal advice from CS staff prior paying for and/or going on a mission trip to make certain, in advance, what credit will be given.
Some Trips are not affiliated with Nonprofit Organizatioins
Finally, SI is aware that there are many for-profit tour companies that guide people in travel experiences which may include volunteer activities during the trip. Please NOTE these trips are NOT eligible for graduation credit. The reason is not to suggest the activity is not meaningful, but is because the managing organizations do not meet SI's basic criteria of non-profit organization status. The policy of asking students to serve with and for non-profit organizations is an integral part of Jesuit Educational Institutions.
SUMMARY: If you just want to get some hours credit for a mission trip
Make sure you are serving with and through an nonprofit organization. Click here for more information about how to figure out nonprofit status.
If you know you are with a nonprofit, then all is set. But do remember that SI wants to give you the most accurate service credit. So that we are able to do this, we encourage students to include a written schedule (itinerary) with their SI Service Verification Form when they return. This schedule should detail the trip experience so that we can see when, what and how you were involved in service activity.
Christian Service wants to support all our students who engage in meaningful service to local communities at home and abroad. We value fair service credit for all our SI students. This is why we encourage students to bring us a detailed schedule so that together we can determine the best service credit.
SUMMARY: Core Project Credit for mission trip
First and foremost, make certain that you will be volunteering through and with a nonprofit organization. This is the most important criteria for academic credit so please take some time to make sure all the organizations connected to your mission trip are nonprofit. Thanks!
Secondly, Students hoping to do a Core Project MUST plan ahead. You need to fill out two forms in order to get advanced core approval of any Mission Trip. Please just fill out 1.) Core Project Application AND 2.) Core Petition.
To plan a mission trip as your Core Project, students must be able to detail out the actual service work that they will be doing. Don't forget--your service action while on the trip must include direct and personal service for at least 40 hours or more.
The Core Petition form will assist students in making a clear case for their project and will help you to include details that will point out how your trip fits our Core Project criteria.
Along with these two forms (Core Application and Core Petition), we also strongly encourage student to bring with them their trip's schedule so that we can take a look at the actual plan for volunteer activity. This schedule is vital so that we can approve the project and provide students with their reflection materials.
Finally, since a service trip is such an important experience, we strongly recommended that students check in about their plans as soon as possible. Christian Service staff want to be a support and we can do so if we have at least one month planning space prior to the trip.
- Students that wish to volunteer outside the Bay Area should always double check to make sure that they will be working with and through a non-profit organiation.
- To provide clarification, we do recommend that students include a brochure or web print out about the agency where they volunteered. This information should clearly state that the organization is a non-profit. This helps us learn about your plans and make a definite decision about whether you will receive credit or not.
- Students who want to volunteer outside the SF Bay Area on their Core Project just need to remember to fill out both a Core Application and a Core Petition. These forms wil guide students in providing the appropriate details about where they will be volunteering.
- It is strongly recommended that students contact the CS office in advance of doing service outside the Bay Area in order to learn what credit may be given for their volunteer involvement.
Students are encouraged to plan and implement a Core Project for their entire service commitment of 100 hours, but this is not mandatory. Often students participate in shorter Core Projects and then must do other, accompanying service activities in order to achieve their minimum total of 100 hours. Regular service is those volunteer activities that go "around the Core Project" and fill in the remainig service hours towards the full 100 hours. Regular service is also any volunteer activity not affiliated with a reflection journal provided by the SI Christian Service office.
Reminder: Service activity that is ALWAYS Regular/Support Service (never Core) includes:
- Volunteer activities at student’s home elementary school such as coaching or tutoring;
- Volunteer activities that are organized through St. Ignatius clubs, sports or classes;
- Coaching activities with St Ignatius sports camps, Parks and Recreation programs, YMCA/YWCA programs, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Boy Scouts etc. (some coaching may be approved as core service, always ask at the CS Office if there are any questions);
- Faith-based service not within religious services, such as helping at annual parish festivals, leading confirmation classes or retreats;
- Ministry during religious services (such as altar serving at mass, liturgical ministry, eucharistic ministry and music ministry) is not credited as part of SI's graduation requirement. SI believes participating in religous services is important ministry as part of a faith community. We will provide credit for preparatory time, but not for the time during the religious services. As well, if a parish wants to write a letter of commendation to be included in a student's service file, please encourage them to do so.
- Service through/with a BUSINESS OR FOR A PERSON can not be credited. Only service with and through nonprofit organizations can be credited for the graduation requirement.
- Political action and fundraising efforts are not the focus of this graduation requirement. If a student is very much involved in such activity, please come and speak to the CS staff as we will work with you to provide you with some acknowledgement of your activities.
If you have questions regarding your service, don’t hesitate to contact the CS office!
If you find a service opportunity that seems to be Core, but is not officially listed as a Core Agency in the CS Office, you can make a petition requesting that your service be considered as a core experience.
- School clubs that provide service to the SI community do not qualify for service credit. Academic Credit is for service activity that reaches beyond the walls of SI and touches persons beyond our school community.
- Clubs or Teams that provide service to organizations outside the immediate SI community can receive regular service credit for this activity. Club/Team Leaders must submit information about this service activity and can obtain such forms from the CS Office.
Journals are intended as a tool for capturing the core service experience. Students are required to follow the process of the reflection journal and to make entries on a regular basis. Complete journals include reflections before, during and after the service (as mapped out in the journal). Most journals are between 8-12 hand written pages. Christian Service staff review each and every journal. During their senior religion class, SI students will be reunited with their journal as a part of the curriculum that discusses Ignatian Spirituality.
- The Core Journal is a key part of the graduation requirement. Without a legible, complete journal, SI’s graduation requirement will be incomplete.
- The Christian Service Center does not authorize students to make copies of journals. Journals are adapted and changed often (at least twice annually) and students should not assume their peers have a journal that is identical to their own.
- Student MUST officially register their Core Service with the CS office and be given an original journal in order to obtain full credit.
- The journal’s due date is on the cover of each journal. Students work with CS staff to determine the due date as it depends on when the student will complete the core service hours.
- If a student does not have a due date this means their journal is not recorded in their CS file. It is very urgent to make sure a record of your journal is kept.
- Extensions are available if requested in a timely manner and if the student has good reasoning behind the request (such as they are finishing up their service hours). Students should come to the CS office before the due date to make this request and to have their due date changed in their file. The CS office reserves the right to consider all extensions and to make decisions that both support the student as well as the Christian Service Center.
- Overdue Journals: Journals not turned into the CS in a timely manner may not be credited to the student. CS staff make every effort to provide notification to students on the status of their journals. At the start of each month, students whose journals are due in that month are notified. Students who are absent from school on the day their journal is due must turn in their journal on the first day they return to SI. Typically, students are given a one-day grace period for turning in their journal without penalty. The CS staff will provide at least one reminder/warning to a student’s about their overdue journal. Students are empowered to take the initiative to follow through with their journal responsibility. After this the journal may not be credited to the students service record.
- Students will be officially notified when their journal has expired. The service hours done in conjunction with that journal may be credited as support service as long as the student turns in appropriate verification within the semester.
- The journal will be kept confidential and will be reviewed by the Christian Service staff who will provide feedback to you, if necessary, and may ask for clarification.
- If a student applies for the Immersion Program during their Junior year, their journal will be part of this application process and other SI Faculty may read the journal.
- Sophomore Transfer Students are required to complete the entire service requirement of 100 total hours. As with their peers, sophomore transfer students must participate in at least 40 Core Service hours in conjunction with a reflection journal.
- Junior Transfer Students are required to complete half of the SI service requirement which is a total of 50 hours. Basically, junior transfer students are asked to complete a Core Service Project. This project should last a minimum of 50 hours and the student should serve with the same nonprofit organization for the duration of the entire experience. SI's goal is that the student will engage in meaningful, direct service with a nonprofit that addresses a social justice issue (such as homelessness, elder care, hunger etc..). For more information about core service, please see above.
- Students can transfer service hours from their previous high school by providing to the Christian Service Office an official letter from that school (on school letterhead) which includes the following information:
- Student Name
- Agency(ies) where student volunteered
- Number of Total Service Hours
- Past service activity will be applied to a student’s service record upon completion of the student's SI service requirement.
- Sophomore students can apply service hours from their Freshman year (totalling no more than 50 hours) towards their SI requirement. These will not be credited as Core Service. Sophomore transfers must complete their Core Service during their time at SI.
- Junior students must participate in their entire service requirement (50 hours of Core Service) during their time at SI. Juniors can apply past service hours (from previous schools) to their overall service record. These past service hours would be detailed on the student's transcript as service activity above and beyond the requirement hours.
- Since transfer students enter into SI at a unique time, they may need personal support in order to understand and plan for their Christian Service. Please do not hesitate to contact the Christian Service Office! We are here each day--particularly before school 8-8:25, recess, during both lunches and after school for at least 30 minutes. We also don't mind making appointments! Just email Ms. Sideco or Mr. Ottersberg.