Volunteering – Community Service

Compositive Model

Volunteering – Community Service

Community service, a subset of volunteering, is volunteering for the sake of meeting the needs of others or the community. Volunteering, more broadly, means any activity in which time is given freely to benefit another person, group, or organization.

Participation in volunteering and community service is tied to positive outcomes in increased self-awareness and self-esteem, access to adult networks, and increased civic commitment. Some key research findings

  • Girls and youth from more affluent backgrounds are more likely to volunteer than others. Youth with higher levels of academic achievement, self-esteem, and social responsibility are also more likely to volunteer.
  • Participation in community service is consistently associated with increased self-esteem
  • Participation in community service is associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing positive relationships and more connections with adult networks.
  • Participation in community service is associated with increases in civic engagement and commitment, service participation, and concern for the next generation.
  • Participation in prosocial activities like community service during high school was linked to lower levels of drinking and marijuana use and higher rates of college graduation.
  • Research evidence conflicts on whether requiring youth to participate in community service makes them less likely or more likely to volunteer in the future.

Promising practices

  • Youth Corps is a program that targets young adults and entails full-time paid service work. 
    • Among African-American males specifically, program participants demonstrated greater levels of personal and social responsibility and civic engagement, in addition to better employment and academic outcomes (no link available).

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