Family & Community Support >> Family & Community Support Archive >> Community Service >> Community Service: Notes & Sources

Community Service: Notes & Sources


Confidence interval (also called "error bar") is the range of values that includes the true value 95% of the time. If the confidence intervals of two groups do not overlap, the difference between groups is statistically significant (meaning that chance or random variation is unlikely to explain the difference).   

King County regions: The geographic boundaries of the four King County sub-regions (North, Seattle, East, and South) are defined by the aggregation of ZIP codes. See map of regions here.

Race/Ethnicity: Federal standards mandate that race and ethnicity (Hispanic origin) are distinct concepts requiring 2 separate questions when collecting data from an individual. "Hispanic origin" is meant to capture the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of an individual (or his/her parents) before arriving in the United States. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race. Communities Count's terms for racial/ethnic groups are derived from those used by the U.S Census Bureau in 2010.

  • Communities Count terms:  Hispanic, Non-Hispanic, White Non-Hispanic, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN), Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI), White, and Multiple Race (Multiple). Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race and are included in other racial categories. Racial/ethnic groups are sometimes combined when sample sizes are too small for valid statistical comparisons of more discrete groups. 
  • 2010 Census terms: Hispanic or Latino, Not Hispanic or Latino, White alone (Not Hispanic or Latino),  Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White, Some Other Race, and Two or More Races.


Adult community service measure: Survey participants were asked, “In the past 30 days, how active have you been in the following activities?   …community service or helping others (volunteering, mentoring or political organizing)? “  Response options were: very active, somewhat active, not very active, not at all active.  Respondents who said they were ‘very active’ or ‘somewhat active’ were counted as active in community service.

Adult community service trends:  Prior to 2011, Communities Count conducted its survey exclusively via random-digit-dial landline phone contact. Starting in 2011, Communities Count broadened its sampling method to include address-based sampling for mailed questionnaires, and added an internet response option.  The new method produced a more representative sample of the County population.

  • Analyzing all 2011 responses (phone, mail, and internet), self-reported participation in community service appeared to decline significantly between 2004 and 2011 – in North and South regions and in the County overall.  Compared to those sampled with the 2004 and 2007 methods, the 2011 respondents reported lower service participation in all regions except Seattle. 
  • However, when the analysis of 2011 data was restricted to phone responses (making the data comparable to data from 2004 and 2007), participation in community service appeared to increase in North and East regions and in the county overall.
  • Because of this inconsistency in results, we cannot report definitive trends for this indicator.

School District Community Service: 18 of King County’s 19 school districts responded to Communities Count’s request for information (Auburn did not respond), only one, Kent, reported neither encouragement nor requirements for community service in their middle and/or high schools.  All remaining 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.

Statistical significance: Unless otherwise noted, any difference mentioned in the text is statistically significant (unlikely to have occurred by chance).

Data Sources

Communities Count School District Survey (2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011):  Communities Count contacted administrators in each district superintendent’s office and requested responses to questions about whether the district: encouraged community service; offered credit for extracurricular service (middle school, high school); allowed use of class time for service activities (middle school, high school); and required service for graduation.  Districts could respond by phone, email, or mail.  Support for community service may vary by school; therefore, responses provided by district administrators reflect policy at the district level only.

Communities Count Survey (2004, 2007, 2011):  Respondents came from a random sample of all King County households.  Due to the limitations of surveys that rely exclusively on landline telephones, Communities Count used a mixed-mode survey involving both random-digit-dial phone contact and address-based sampling for mailed questionnaires, with an internet response option as well. Phone interviews were conducted in English, Spanish, and, upon request, a few additional languages. Possible limitations of this kind of survey include: (a) people who do not have a telephone or a permanent address are missed; (b) people who do not speak English or Spanish may not participate; (c) people who have less education and lower incomes tend to be under-represented.

Other Sources

Maps of King County covering a wide range of topics can be accessed at  Maps most immediately relevant to Communities Count are under the headings of Community data & demographics, Public health, and Environment & natural resources, but other maps should be useful as well (farmers markets, transit routes, walking and biking routes, parks, traffic counts, etc.).

Quotes:  Communities Count interviewed 32 King County parents or guardians raising at least one child younger than 6 years of age.  We reached out to communities of color, recent immigrants, and residents with limited English proficiency to achieve a broad range of racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity. We interviewed both families with very low household income and those who earned up to median income (about $68,000 for a family of four in 2010). Family structures included single-parent households, couples living in consensual unions, married couples, and extended families.