Stage 2 - Prepare

Many activities occur as you move from investigation to action—this is when you prepare. What might go on as you prepare? Consider the following.

Consider the Many Different Ways You can Become Prepared.

What do you want to know and how can you find out? For the work you want to accomplish, what questions do you have? Who can help you get the answers? And beware! Answers often lead to more questions! The service-learning process truly requires ongoing learning. For example, knowing that an estimated 2.4 million pounds of plastic pollution enter the world’s oceans every hour can be an effective attention grabber. Finding out the dangers of improper disposal of electronic waste leads to a convincing argument in front of your City Council. In addition to facts, developing partners and plans are a part of being prepared.

Community Partners:

During investigation did a community organization inform you of an upcoming event related to your topic of interest? Did you find a partner that would be willing to help you with planning and action? A group with experience can be a great resource. The Who Is Helping? document can help you reach out and the Community Contact Information assists you keep track of each partner and their participation. Both are available for download.

Where and When:

What place in or near your community needs your help? Will you be testing water or cleaning a park? Be sure to find out who is responsible for this area to start arranging for permission. Begin to think about best dates and times.

Starting an Initiative:

Do you have a start-up idea? Do you want to kick off a “Give Up the Bottle: Reduce Oil Dependency” campaign to promote reusable water bottles? Who would be a good partner—an environmental organization and a radio station? Brainstorm your options.

Budget and Supplies:

A community partner with a scheduled cleanup on the calendar may have all the supplies you need. However if you are the organizers, consider what you must have to get the job done well and keep everyone safe. Whatever your plan, usually organizations or government groups may provide valuable assistance; for example, a manager at a beach or park may arrange for trash removal after the cleanup is done.


Include in your plans ways to record the entire service-learning process, including how you investigate, plan, act, reflect, and demonstrate. Think of different ways you want to keep track. Refer back to the Personal Inventory to see what skills and talents your group has. Use any available technology—cameras, video, audio recorders.

Gathering and Reporting Data:

Whatever you do – keep track of data. For a CleanUP, a CleanUP Data Card is provided. Selling reusable water bottles? Keep track of sales, even who is buying and why. Knowing your data helps you monitor your progress and gives you a better story to tell.


What is that? Imagine if you planned a school dance and the band didn’t show up. What’s always great to have just in case? Music you can blast from a sound system. Part of being ready is getting ready for any surprises. Every team needs to be doubly prepared for anything that may occur. Imagine the unexpected and be prepared!

Two documents can assist as you move into action: the Taking Action organizer helps you map out your ideas and the roles of all involved, and the Service-Learning Proposal consolidates your thinking as you get ready to tell others—great for handing to school administrators or a funding source. Both are available for download to the right.

CITATION: From The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, & Social Action (Revised & Updated Second Edition) by Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., copyright © 2010. Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; This page may be reproduced for use within an individual school or district. For all other uses,