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Service Learning

An integral component to a Sacred Heart education, service learning is, in part, a tangible manifestation of our Goals and Criteria in action. In preparation for a service activity, students learn about and reflect on their local and global communities. Basic human rights and needs are explored, as well as issues surrounding equal access to services like healthy food, water, medical care, and quality education. Students are encouraged to voice their experiences, opinions, and to share ideas to effect change. We seek to imbue all students with a genuine respect and authentic compassion for all people and the environment in which we live.


Sacred Heart’s Preschool - Grade 8 Service Program combines opportunities for service learning and community outreach, supporting continual growth of both the minds and hearts of our students. Each service activity combines learning, action and reflection. The program helps students cultivate compassion, generosity, and respect for their community members as well as broaden their awareness and responsibility for the world in which they live.

The P-8 Service Program is a combination of all school collections, family outreach opportunities and grade level community partnerships. Each grade level explores curricular ties and leadership development, connected with an outreach activity. Students build relationships and support community programs through coordinated opportunities for direct service, indirect service, and advocacy.

P-8 Programs

List of 3 items.

  • All Grade Drives & Collections

    Thanksgiving Holiday Meals Collection
    Supporting St. Vincent de Paul families
    Christmas Toy, Clothing, and Necessities Drive
    Supporting St. Francis Center, SOS, Street LifeMoves Ministries, and Haven House
    Uganda Lenten Collection
    Supporting our sister schools in Kenya and Uganda
    World Event/Natural Disaster Relief
    Immediate response to a local or global crisis situation
  • Family Service Opportunities

    Coastal Beach Cleanup Day
    International effort in preserving and beautifying beachfront
    SOS - Sandwiches/Soup on Sunday
    Prepare and serve lunch for community members that need a meal every 3rd Sunday
    REF Classroom Partners
    Spend time with teachers and students in neighboring schools
    Sunday Breakfast @ First Steps Shelter
    Prepare and share a meal with families in San Mateo LifeMoves Shelter
  • Grade Service in Action

    Pre/K Acts of Kindness
    GRADE 1 Campus Compassion
    GRADE 2 Community ~ My New Red Shoes
    GRADE 3 Literacy ~ Oakwood
    GRADE 4 Elderly ~ Rosener House
    GRADE 5 Abilities ~ Special Olympics
    GRADE 6 Community: Local, Network
    GRADE 7 Homelessness ~ Street Life Ministries
    GRADE 8 Leadership, Community, Independent Service Outreach ~ St. Vincent de Paul

SHP (9-12) Program & Graduation Requirement

At the high school level, analysis of the root causes of suffering and injustice is coupled with individual activity and contribution. Through service performed on campus, for local organizations, and service-immersion programs, students apply their passions to enact meaningful, positive change. Proximity and solidarity with people who are poor or marginalized is emphasized in annual service projects. The goal is to bring students from performing charity to actively seeking justice. Additionally, some disciplines, electives, and upper-division courses require experiential service activities as part of the standard curriculum. Senior independent studies in community service or social justice also help bring students to a higher level engagement with social justice.

Students must complete the entire SHP Service Learning Sequence to meet graduation requirements. Those who do not meet the annual service learning requirement will not be allowed to begin their next year of classes until project completion. Seniors may not participate in graduation ceremonies or receive a transcript until Capstone Project completion. Transfer students must complete the service learning graduation requirements beginning with their year of entry.

Service Learning Sequence

List of 4 items.

  • GR 9 - Class Service

    Combined with their Class Mass 
    Community Day, the Class Service Day is an opportunity for students to think about the connection between God, self, and others. This service day will be an introduction to SHP’s close community partner organizations, as students serve alongside classmates and faculty in the community. Students will build community with their peers and with those on the margins.
    Enduring Understandings: The connections between God, self, and others, a knowledge of and comfort with Goal III, the importance of service to a Sacred Heart education, an understanding of respect using the image of the iceberg to help students look twice to see what is beneath the surface of both their peers and those they serve, personal and civic responsibility.
  • GR 10 - Community Partners

    After completing their GR 9 Service Day, students will meet with a Service Learning Advisor to choose from a list of SHP’s 10 close community partner organizations for 25 hours of direct service. Journals and reflection are essential components of the experience and are recorded using x2Vol.com.
    Community Partner options:
    1. Siena Youth Center / St. Francis Center of Redwood City (youth/mentorship)
    2. St. Elizabeth Seton School (educational equity)
    3. Catholic Charities at St. Francis of Assisi Youth Club (youth/mentorship)
    4. Boys & Girls Club (youth/mentorship)
    5. St. Anthony’s Dining Hall (hunger/poverty)
    6. Peninsula Bridge Program (educational equity)
    7. St. Vincent de Paul Society (poverty/social justice)
    8. LifeMoves (family services/homelessness)
    9. Swim Buddies (special needs - summer)
    10. Grassroots Ecology (environmental justice)
    Enduring Understandings: a deeper encounter with Goal III, specifically criterion 3: the school is linked in a reciprocal manner with ministries among people who are poor, marginalized, and suffering from injustice, an ability to ask critical questions and investigate issues and reasons that necessitate the volunteerism, recognizing and participating in efforts to make real the Kingdom of God as demonstrated in the ministry and teaching of Jesus; increased capacities of compassion and empathy for the suffering of others.
  • GR 11 - Social Ethics Urban Plunge

    All students will enroll in Social Ethics and participate in one Urban Plunge as part of their junior-level Religious Studies curriculum. An example of service-infused, experiential curricula, this all-day (8am-8pm) Urban Plunge will challenge students to get outside of their comfort zone by safely traveling to an impoverished urban area of San Francisco, San Jose, or Oakland. Students will identify, through direct experience, issues of poverty, gentrification, and inclusion within a local urban environment to deepen their discussions in the classroom.

    Enduring Understandings: a direct experience of urban poverty, gentrification, and the effects of skyrocketing rents on the most vulnerable in our community, an ability to engage respectfully in difficult conversations with people from all walks of life, continued efforts to make real the Kingdom of God as demonstrated in the ministry and teaching of Jesus, a real appreciation for the struggle and hardships faced by people living on the streets
  • GR 12 - Senior Capstone Project

    Students will use all they have learned about charity and justice to design and complete a Senior Capstone Project with a minimum commitment of 25 hours. Each student’s Service Learning Advisor must approve project proposals. Preparation, reflection, and advocacy components will be more emphasized to help move students from doing acts of charity to actively seeking justice. Here are three examples below:

    • Service-immersion Program: A school-sponsored or school-approved service-based immersion program which includes educational, service, and reflective components.
    • Service-infused Elective/Course: A service-infused course, Inquiry Lab, or Independent Study which includes an ongoing commitment to an organization or issue, as well as educational and reflective components.
    • Civic Engagement Project: Students who enjoyed their Community Partner Project during sophomore year can continue to work with their chosen organization or can pick another with which to build a relationship. Recognizing that the goal is to authentically build community with a particular organization, details about commitment levels and duration for the project will be worked out with Service Learning advisors and the organization itself.
    Enduring Understandings: a deeper understanding of the difference between charity and justice; an awareness of and comfort with key Catholic Social Teachings like a preferential option for the poor, human dignity, and solidarity; an increase in “critical consciousness that leads [them] to analyze and reflect on the values of society and to act for justice” (Goal III.2) specifically with regard to systematic and structural injustices; departing seniors will be challenged to consider how, moving forward, they will act for justice and sustainably become people of accompaniment and solidarity with the marginalized.

Optional Programs

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  • Service Immersion

    Immersion is an excellent way for students to gain real-world and travel experience, while integrating service and education. Sacred Heart offers a variety of school-sponsored, as well as school-approved, immersion programs throughout the academic year and summer. Students may opt for an immersion opportunity as part of their Senior Capstone Project or in addition to it. To be considered, students must complete an application process and need-based financial aid is always available.

    Recent opportunities include:
  • Legacy Summer Nonprofit Internship

    Through a funded program, rising SHP seniors have an exclusive opportunity to self-design and carry out a service project with a nonprofit organization of their choosing. Students complete an application process and if selected for a Legacy Internship, will work with SHP Service Learning staff to define and outline program goals, coordinate outreach, and secure of a benefiting organization. Legacy Interns will be given a stipend for summer work and travel connected to the project’s execution. Interns will present a formal paper, project deliverable, and will give a formal presentation to the SHP community at the conclusion of the internship.
  • Heart Exchange

    Begun as a collaboration between the Service Learning and Fine Arts departments at SHP, the HeArt Exchange provides enrichment programs for underserved students from the Siena Youth Center in Redwood City. With the support of SHP faculty and students who lead each session, the program meets weekly during the school year, providing lessons in everything from instrumental music to robotics, from physics to photo editing. An example of a true reciprocal partnership, Siena students benefit from our campus and students while SHP students gain valuable social awareness and concrete mentorship skills.


List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Kelly Power

    Kelly Power 

    Service Coordinator - LMS
  • Photo of Reid Particelli

    Reid Particelli 

    Director of Service Learning - SHP
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12