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community engagement & service learning

At San Francisco Friends School, an integral part of our curriculum is engaging with—and learning from—our local community.

As a Quaker school, we know that a true sense of belonging comes from the actions we take as stewards. Through queries and reflection, we hope that our students learn that responsibility is part of being a member of a community.

All around us, community organizations foster civic participation, support people in need, fight for social justice, and strive to create a better world. We believe it is critical that our students be part of these efforts.

We see service learning as vital to living our Quaker mission. It is a critical part of our social-emotional curriculum, helping students to develop empathy, compassion, and kindness for others.

Ultimately our goal for this work is to raise students’ awareness of the world around them, and inspire positive action.

Service learning enriches the overall learning experience for students, teaches civic responsibility, and strengthens our communities.

Teachers at each grade level work with community partners to design service learning experiences where students learn to serve in partnership and with purpose. Here are a few examples of grade level projects driven by authentic, reciprocal and sustained relationships created with local partners.

You’ll notice that as students get older there is more room for their “voice and choice." This developmental shift allows for creativity, ownership, and further opportunities to “Let their lives speak.”

Community Engagement Case Study: 5th Grade

Over the past several years in 5th Grade, students have been focusing on the theme of relationships and how they can help us learn. This has come to life through our work with Seniors from various partner organizations across the city.


One Senior shared: "As a kid, I always had older adult friends! Actually, I always have had older friends. They were so interesting and incredibly supportive of all my hopes and dreams. They were good listeners—and they taught me how to be, as well!"

Other examples of community engagement include:

  • In the past, we have focused time on aging, and what it means to grow old. 
  • Pen pals turned into Zoom interviews (and in-person interviews pre-COVID), using some guidance from StoryCorps. 
  • Those interviews got turned into dramatic productions via Drama class; last year, due to COVID, students developed their own podcasts. 

number of years that SFFS has opened the school year with a backpack drive to support homeless youth through At The Crossroads:


average dollar amount raised by 3rd-Graders annually for the International Rescue Committee: 


bags of coffee sold last year by 7th-Graders to support 1951 Coffee, a cafe that hires refugees:


number of weeks per year that 1st-Graders dance with senior citizens in our community:


 average number of snack bags donated by Kindergartners to Mission Neighborhood Resource Center per year:


number of SF supervisors that met with our 7th-Graders so far...


average number of preschoolers at Mission Head Start that are read to in Spanish by 4th-Graders per year: