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Community Service: Summary & Data Highlights

More than half of all King County school districts required community service for graduation in 2011 – a substantial increase since 2000.

The ethic of service – giving our time and talents to help others and benefit the common good – develops within families and is often reinforced in schools. Since 2000, Communities Count has surveyed King County school districts to learn how they encourage students to participate in community service. 

School Community Service

18 of King County’s 19 school districts responded to Communities Count’s request for information in 2011; of these, only 1 neither encouraged nor required community service in their middle and/or high schools. 

  • 17 districts had some kind of community service program in high school.
  • 9 districts extended these programs to middle schools, encouraging community service, offering credit for extracurricular service, and/or allowing students to use class time for community service.

From 2000 to 2011, the percentage of King County school districts that encouraged community service increased from 40% to 67%.

  • The percentage that required community service for graduation increased from 11% to 56%.
  • The percentage that offered high school credit for extracurricular community service increased, but …
  • … districts reverted to turn-of-the century policies requiring students to perform community service on their own time, not class time.

Adult Community Service

Almost half of adult respondents to a King County survey said they participated “actively” or “very actively” in community service or helping others in the past month.

  • Community service did not differ by race, ethnicity, country of birth, or primary language.
  • Community service did not differ by income, education, employment, or veteran status.

Place mattered.

  • Seattle and East Region adults were significantly more likely than those in North Region to have been active in service or helping others.

Gender, age, and health mattered.

  • Women were more likely than men to report community service.
  • Adults age 45-64 were more likely than those age 25-44 to have served others in the community.
  • Adults in excellent, very good, or good health were more likely than those in poor or fair health to have helped others in their communities.

No definitive trends were detected.

  • Due to a change in sampling methods, trend results were mixed.
  • See Notes & Sources for more detail. 
"[Our neighbors] are very kind.  We have some African Americans and on the other side Chinese, they are good.  In back are Michoacanos. They have only just started to live there, but they are very good people.  The African American is a very good guy, he takes us sometimes, he goes fishing and he takes us and he gives us a little bit of fish.  When my child was about to be born his wife gave me many things.  She gave me the stroller, she gave me many things.  And they are very good people, the two of them."
Mother of infant in 2-parent family (mother Latina, father African American) living in apartment in South King County.