Community Service FAQ

What about …

Repeat entries for the same organizations?

If you are volunteering for multiple or regular/repeating shifts with the same organization, consider entering them all at once (or every couple of months) on Inside UPrep. Every time you make an entry, the system sends and automated email to your supervisor, asking them to confirm that you worked the hours you entered. Grouping them together avoids sending multiple emails to busy people! Note: this does require that you keep track of your shifts, including the first and last dates for each group.

Recording work done with Students of Service

If you are volunteering through our Students of Service club, please make sure that you enter your hours under the name of the organization for which you volunteered. Hours should not be listed under “University Prep” or “Students of Service” because that’s not who you are serving.

Volunteering with religious organizations or houses of worship

Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious congregations can be an excellent way to connect with community service, but you need to understand the difference between volunteering with people from your house or worship (e.g., going to a soup kitchen with your youth group) versus volunteering for it (e.g., teaching preschool or cleaning the church kitchen after services). Volunteer work done with people from your religious community does qualify for school service hours and should be recorded under the name of the organization for which you volunteered. Hours in service to the religious organization do not qualify for school credit because they are not considered fully inclusive, and because the primary purpose of a house of worship is religious observance, not service.

Sports programs and sports camps

Most sports programs and summer sports camps do not qualify for school service hours. Many of these programs are for-profit businesses that cost money, and even nominally non-profit programs are not always focused on community service. (The primary purpose for most sports programs is to teach sports skills, not to serve the needs of the community.) There are a few sports outreach programs that deliberately focus on providing access to specific sports for communities who have not historically been able to do so, and these programs may qualify for school hours. There are programs (such as Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center or Outdoors for All) whose mission is to allow people with disabilities to access sports and recreation; these programs do qualify for school service credit. When in doubt, always check first with the Service Coordinator!

Summer camps

Most summer camps do not qualify for school service hours. Even though you may be working for free as a junior counselor, the purpose of camp is typically recreation, not community service. Exceptions that do qualify are usually programs run by the city that are open to the public and provide no- or very-low-cost programming, because these programs provided needed services to families with working parents during non-school months. There are some youth outreach programs focused on teaching leadership to traditionally underserved populations, and these programs also qualify for school service credit. When in doubt, check first with the Service Coordinator.

Submitting very large numbers of hours

Our expectation is that when you are participating in a program that includes staying overnight, or is ongoing for many weeks or months, you will honestly assess what portion of your time is really spent in active, direct service to the program. Hours that are spent asleep, on breaks, eating meals, etc. would typically not be considered part of the hours you submit for credit, and you must take this into account when you decide how many hours to log. Note: Your program may provide a different (larger) estimate of service hours for you; regardless, it is your responsibility to consider the school’s requirements and adjust that total as appropriate. When in doubt, check with the Service Coordinator before submitting large entries.

Service abroad or out of town

Two core tenets of our program are to give back to the community that supports us so generously, and to deepen our understanding of the issues and challenges facing people and places right here in our city (instead of allowing ourselves to think of the people being affected “over there”). For these reasons, service in fulfillment of school requirements must be completed with an organization working to serve the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Some flexibility is possible for areas a bit further beyond the city, and occasionally for students who spend their entire summers in another community; students should check with the Service Coordinator ahead of time in these situations.

Fundraisers and auctions

While fundraising and fundraising events are critical parts of how nonprofit organizations continue to function, students must earn their credit hours in direct service, doing the action or service that represents the primary purpose of the organization they choose. Fundraising, while important, is a step removed from this work, and does not count for credit. When in doubt, check first with the Service Coordinator.

One-time events and fun runs

Most one-time events fall under the fundraising category, meaning that they are not direct service and do not qualify for school credit. We also discourage students from focusing on one-time events because we hope that our they will develop a relationship with an organization over time, returning to volunteer more than once in order to deepen their understanding of the work and the underlying issues. Rare exceptions exist for special situations in which student volunteers are doing direct service work at a one-time event (e.g., staffing a community outreach table at a walk or run). Check first with the Service Coordinator if you want to request credit for this type of service.