What Qualifies as Service?

Service is volunteer work that aims to improve the community through organizations such as a nonprofit, government agency, school, grassroots organization, or through iCED-approved projects. Service must be performed while enrolled or employed at MDC and an iCED Service Transcript can be provided upon request.

What is Academic Service-Learning?

Academic service-learning is service integrated into a course. Service must be directly related to the class subject matter and meet an identified community need. Intentional reflection must be incorporated into the course to help connect the service with the course objectives and with civic learning.

Service Activities must meet an Identifiable Community Need.

Examples of Community Needs: Adult Education/Literacy, Animal Care, Arts/Culture, Children/Youth, Community Improvement, Criminal Justice, Crisis/Counseling, Cultural Arts, Disaster/Emergency Services, Disabilities, Domestic Violence, Education, Environmental Programs, Gender Issues, Health/Wellness, HIV/AIDS, Homelessness, Hunger, Immigration, Legal Services, LGBT Issues, Mental Health, Neighborhood Improvement, Parks and Recreation, Senior Services, Social Justice, Sustainability, Women's Issues, etc.

Qualifying service can take four forms: Direct, Indirect, Research, and Advocacy.


  • Direct service is working directly for or with people who benefit from your service.
  • Examples: Serve food for the homeless. Tutor, mentor, or coach youth. Visit with the elderly.


  • Service without being directly involved with those being served or providing service that benefits the environment or the community.
  • Examples: Create brochures, flyers, or reports for a nonprofit organization. Build low-income housing. Fundraise for a cause.


  • Gathering and presenting information on areas of need - research will directly benefit the community, not for the purpose of increasing one's own knowledge.
  • Examples: Work in a laboratory that tests water for environmental restoration efforts. Conduct an oral history project recording the stories of recent immigrants.


  • Advocacy is attempting to cause political or social action by working to influence the government or community leaders.
  • Examples: Conduct information campaigns. Lobby on behalf of a community issue. Organize a letter writing campaign to elected officials.

What Does Not Qualify as a Service?

Activities for Internal Benefit: Activities that are a requirement of your position (club officer) or primarily benefit your organization (such as research to meet a homework assignment or something that benefits one's own organization and not the greater community). Example: recruiting for your club (not service) vs. organizing and hosting an awareness event about a civic issue with your club (service).


Donating (cash or in-kind) is not service (for example, donating 5 cans cannot equal 1 hour of service).


For time spent on fundraising activities to count as service, all funds and in-kind donations must be donated to an identifiable community need which does not benefit one's own organization or members. Fundraising MUST include educating and increasing awareness of the issue you are fundraising for (for example, raising money to buy T-shirts for a club is not service, but donating proceeds to the Environmental Defenders while distributing information on climate change and sustainability would be).


Walking in a 5K or rally or attending meetings are not service activities. However, serving on the board of a nonprofit or organizing a 5K for charity would be service. Assisting in hosting events by passing out water bottles, helping with check-in, or ensuring crowd safety would also be service.

Religious Proselytizing:

Converting or educating others on religious beliefs cannot be registered as service. However, assisting at a foodbank at a church can be service, so long as it is secular in nature (i.e., not proselytizing).

Compensation Greater than Minimum Wage:

Those completing service can receive a stipend, but compensation must be less than minimum wage (for example, working with AmeriCorps or City Year is service).

Preparation/Planning/Orientation Hours:

A high quality service project often requires orientation, planning and preparation. A reasonable number of hours of these types of activities can be counted as "service" but generally should not exceed the number of hours of actual service.