2. Prepare to Serve, Learn, and Grow

St. Paul
NOTE: Beginning preparation  assumes that you have completed the investigation process in which you sought to understand community priorities and then set goals for service, learning, and growth in partnership with the community.
Strong, intentional preparation ensures that all participants are serve, grow, and learn. When done well, preparation increases the likelihood that both the participants offering the service and the community being served have positive experiences that reinforce their commitments. It also provides the opportunity for youth leaders to develop skills in planning, negotiating, setting goals and timelines, building partnerships, and organizing projects.
Preparation involves more than just making sure all the tools are in place to accomplish a service project (though that’s also key). It also involves preparation for growth and learning, as well as preparing for the full service-learning process. Thus, it is often the most time-consuming part of the service-learning process.

Prepare to Learn and Grow

  • Once learning goals are established, how will they be accomplished through the preparation time, action, reflection, and demonstration/celebration activities? This may include research on the background of an issue, having community members tell about their experiences, coaching young people in the skills they’ll need to accomplish their service, developing skills for interfaith dialogue, leadership skills, and many others.
  • Plan how you will help participants explore the personal, social, cultural, or other issues that may arise through the project, based on the growth goals that were established during the investigate phase.

Prepare to Serve

  • Orient participating youth, their families, and participating faith communities to the service tasks, the community, the underlying issues, and the people they will be working with during the project.
  • Prepare a budget for your project, including costs such as: food and beverages, service project supplies, t-shirts, equipment rental, printing, publicity materials, evaluation and celebration activities, videography and photography, transportation. Find ideas for funding your interfaith service-learning efforts.
  • Access the training or mentoring your group will need to be successful in the projects you undertake. If you’re working with a community agency or partner, they will likely be able to provide this kind of support.
  • Take care of the logistical details, including procuring supplies, setting schedules, and arranging transportation.
  • Address safety, risk management, and liability concerns, including parental permission, insurance, transportation, supervision, medical release forms, and similar issues, as needed. For more information, review this fact sheet on risk management and liability from the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.

Plan for Reflection, Celebration, Demonstration, and Evaluation

  • Determine how you will evaluation your service-learning goals so that you can monitor and collect the data, materials, or artifacts that you need through the whole service-learning process. See more in the section on evaluation in this tool kit.
  • Establish your plans for reflection, and celebration and demonstration. This allows you to orient all participating youth to these activities and to ensure that you have collected what you need along the way. (For example, you won’t be able show a video as part of the celebration and demonstration if no one is tapped to shoot the footage!)

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