Burke Life

Service and Civic Engagement at Burke

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
Burke's founders envisioned a school where along with academics, arts and athletics, students would learn how to be active citizens who were committed to social justice. Not only is civic engagement a pillar of our school, it is also a fundamental component to the philosophy of progressive education. 

We impart a civic education rooted in social justice. Our goal is to integrate service learning into the academic curriculum and develop students’ capacity to contribute to the communities in which they live.
Burke students in grades 6 to 8 engage in service learning where classroom learning connects directly to learning in the DC community alongside nonprofits addressing systemic social issues. In grades 9 to 12, students have an individual service and civic engagement requirement of a minimum of 15 hours each year for a minimum of 60 hours by graduation. Throughout high school, the Director of Service Learning and Civic Engagement works directly with high school advisors and students to identify service opportunities across a wide variety of causes and disciplines that fulfill the requirement.
Burke also offers several immersive overnight trips that engage students in service while also expanding their awareness of other cultures and perspectives within the United States.

Getting Started With Service

List of 6 items.

  • STEP 1: How do you want to make a difference in your community?

    • What social realities that you witness concern you?
    • Do these issues carry local, national, and/or global significance?
    • Describe your interests, talents, and skills—how can you channel these toward social action and change?
  • STEP 2: With whom and for whom would you like to serve?

    Look at the organizations on the Burke Service webpage—do any jump out at you? Are you interested in, for example:
    • Education and mentoring?
    • Disaster and emergency services?
    • Health and wellness?
    • Hunger and homelessness?
    • Environmental justice?
    • Immigration and refugee resettlement?
    At this stage, you want to discern what you want to give as well as receive from the your community service project.
  • STEP 3: When and where are you available to serve?

    • What transportation is available to you?
    • What times work best for you and your family’s schedule:
      • Afterschool, Monday through Friday?
      • Saturday and/or Sunday?
      • Summer, Winter and/or Spring Breaks?
    Would you consider going on a Burke service trip?
  • STEP 4: What organization(s) will you serve with?

    Research online, talk with the Service Director, attend service fairs, and check out nonprofits' volunteer webpages to find out:
    • What is the age requirement?
    • Is there an application to complete?
    • Are there trainings and if so, when do they occur?
    • Who is the volunteer coordinator?
    • What are volunteer duties and expectations?
    • Do I have friends who might be interested in serving with me?
    • Are there direct service opportunities available?
    • What population will you serve?
    • Does this organization meet Burke's service requirement?*
    *Complete a pre-service form and speak with the Service Director to confirm your proposed project meets the criteria.
  • STEP 5: Be in service to your community!

  • STEP 6: What did the experience mean to you?

    After engaging in service, reflection of the experience helps ensure that students do not, to quote T.S. Eliot, “have the experience but miss the meaning.”
    Review the post-service reflection form and determine what type of reflection format you would like to use.  Students can submit a written reflection or present in assembly, grade HR, or to a small group of Burke adults. 
    Post-service forms must be submitted at the start of the school year or within a month of completing your service to receive credit.


List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Can I do all 60 of the required community service hours at one time?

    No, to help to make service a consistent and ongoing part of their lives we ask students to do a minimum of 15 hours of community service during each year they attend Burke's high school. Of course we encourage students to do more than 15 hours a year.
  • Must I complete all my service hours during the school year or can I do some over the summer?

    Yes, service work completed during the summer can be credited to either the prior or upcoming school year, or split between both. We also expect students to participate in additional school-sponsored service projects throughout the school year.
  • Do I need to have my service hours documented?

    Yes, students must fill out our service form in order to get credit for their work. Click here or pick up a form in the Service office at school. A coordinator at the site where the service is performed must complete and sign the form. Service hours supervised by a Burke faculty member or administrator also require a written report. It is the student's responsibility to obtain this documentation and submit it to Burke's Director of Service.
  • Do service-learning projects from my classes count towards my hours?

    Not in the high school. We ask 9th - 12th graders to do 15 hours of service with a nonprofit organization other than Burke.
  • Do I need to complete 60 hours of service even though I started Burke in the 11th grade?

    No, you are only required to perform 15 hours for each year of high school you attend Burke.
  • Can I do my service at Burke?

    We want students to broaden their life experiences through exposure to community service opportunities outside of school. However, there are a few exceptions to this guideline - please consult with the Service Director.
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.