“Originally I didn’t think service learning would be fun. I thought it would be boring. But as I started to do it and draw about gun violence it was starting to get fun and I was putting my heart into it. Also, when we started to go on walks and get people’s opinions on gun violence I started to relate to what they were saying. I don’t want to wait for change, I want to be the change and help the community before it’s too late.” – Need in Deed Student

Service-learning invites students to apply their academic skills to real-life issues in their communities and schools.

Service-learning is a teaching strategy that invites students to apply their academic skills to address real-life issues in their communities and schools. Need in Deed invites students to explore community issues that they care about and to take action. Our approach to service-learning utilizes our signature, My Voice Framework that gives students a real-world context for the concepts and skills in their curriculum. It calls on them to use their gifts and talents to speak out or act on behalf of others. And every year, they amaze us with their passion and perception, and they reaffirm our belief in their promise.


Developed by educators, My Voice is a process of self-discovery, reflection, inquiry, and action that connects the classroom with the community.


My Voice encourages active, hands-on learning integrated with the school curriculum.

My Voice is a structured sequence of classroom activities. Adaptable for every grade level and continuously updated, it is designed with flexibility so that any subject area—math, science, social studies, language arts, art—can serve as the entry point for service-learning.

Incorporating best-practice strategies in education, public health, and design thinking, My Voice offers powerful ways for students to learn more about the world while building their sense of purpose and capability.

From initial inquiry through implementation of their project, My Voice gives students multiple opportunities to develop and apply skills of reading comprehension, speaking, writing, math, social studies and science, information literacy, listening, planning, and teamwork.


Need in Deed offers no-cost services for Philadelphia public and charter school teachers who want to integrate service-learning in their classrooms. Service-learning:

  • happens for students during the school day
  • is facilitated by the classroom teacher with support from Need in Deed staff
  • extends over the school year
  • starts with student voice and builds classroom community
  • incorporates inquiry, action, and reflection
  • brings students into contact with local individuals involved in the issue the students choose to explore
  • connects young people with structured activities that address human and community issues
  • is part of the academic curriculum and meets state and local standards
  • provides opportunities to become more engaged with school and to increase civic responsibility, personal and social development, and critical thinking skills
  • engages both head (problem-solving, applied learning) and heart (empathy and compassion for others).

Hear STUDENTS’ reflections on their service-learning experience

Hear TEACHERS’ reflections on service learning and the My Voice Framework

Need in Deed adheres to the standards of the National Youth Leadership Council

Are you a 3rd – 8th grade public school teacher? Apply to become a Need in Deed Network Teacher for the 2024-25 school year!