Upper School Community Engagement

We challenge students to experience deeply, empathize with other human beings and life on Earth, and commit to purposes higher than themselves by taking action on issues that matter to them. 

Program Philosophy and Vision

The Community Engagement Program at Menlo School is driven by the philosophy of practical idealism: let us be motivated by an unwavering belief in ideals 500 Internal Server Error

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Upper School Community EngagementCommunity Engagement Requirements: Class of 2020 and Beyond

Students will engage in meaningful experiences to earn 10 community engagement credits each school year. Students may choose to delve into one issue by partnering with a single agency or participate in a variety of experiences.  

IN DEVELOPMENT: Students will also carry out individually or in small groups an Impact Initiative (II) of their own design with the support of the Director of Community Engagement and other faculty, culminating in a presentation during their Senior Year M Term.  More info on this new element of the requirement to come. 

Community Engagement Honors: Go for the Gold! 

Students who demonstrate a commitment to engagement well beyond the graduate requirement will earn a Certificate of Citizenship and be honored at an Assembly. 

Blue Level Award: 20 community engagement credits in a school year
Gold Level Award: 30 or more community engagement credits in a school year

Community Engagement Credit Guide and opportunities

Below, click an arrow to view examples of the types of activities students can pursue to earn their community engagement (CE) credits.  To earn the credits, a student must have the experience and reflect on in it using FortressWatch this video to see how to complete reflections with excellence.  

Looking for an opportunity not listed below?  Most typical service activities qualify.  Try one of these local search engines or guides:
BayAreaParent: don’t let the name fool you - the link takes you to a description of about ten websites that each offer several.
HandsOn Bay Area: about 40 ongoing activities of various types that are open to youth.
VolunteerMatch: quickly register, filter a search for near Menlo Park and teens, and you’ll still have several hundred options! 
Bay Area Teen Science: cool opportunities in places like the Computer History Museum and California Academy of Sciences.

2 Credit Opportunities

(one-day events with a low level of time commitment for volunteers)
Menlo Organized Opportunities
• Valpo Fun Run to support Peninsula Bridge 
• Menlo Auction for Financial Aid 
• Special Olympics: Face Painting, Photographer, Set-up/Clean-up 
• Blood Drive 
• Knight Vision Beach Clean-Up 
• Field Day at Taft

Outside (non-Menlo) Opportunities
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• Beach Clean-up Organized by Surfriders Foundation or Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
• Sewing bags or making cards for My New Red Shoes
• Making Blankets for Project Linus
• Serving a meal at St. Anthony’s, Glide
• Sorting food or clothes at a Homeless Shelter
• Working at a Doggie Protective Services adoption event
• Helping at the Re-Store for Habitat for Humanity

3 Credit Opportunities

(opportunities with an increased level of volunteer time commitment and which are critical to Menlo’s partnerships)
Menlo Organized Opportunities
• Family Service Day
• Special Olympics Buddy, Timer/Field Events
• Community Cooks
• 9th Literacy Day
• 10th Community Engagement Day 

Outside (non-Menlo) Opportunities
• Attending a community meeting in EMP or EPA to be aware of issues/discussion
• Participating in a Habitat Restoration Project with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy or other local agency
• Performing at a senior citizens center
• Participating in a Habitat for Humanity or Rebuilding Together 1-day project
• Hosting a party for the clients at a Life Moves site
• Participating in Relay for Life 24-hours Walk

4 Credit Opportunities

Menlo Organized Opportunities
(opportunities that require a long-term commitment or an immersive experience that is at least 1 week long)
• Taft Math Center (6 week session)
• Reading Partners Volunteer (6 week session)
• Boys and Girls Club Power Hour Tutor or Elective Teacher (6 week session)
• Life Moves Homework Center Tutor (6 weeks session)
• Peninsula Bridge Middle Academy Tutor (6 week session)

Outside (non-Menlo) Opportunities
• SPCA Junior Volunteer Position (6 week commitment)
• Coaching a Special Olympics team (6 week commitment)
• Global Leadership Adventures Service Trip
• Rustic Pathways Service Trip

8 Credit Opportunities

Menlo Organized Opportunities
(Summer internships with partner agencies that require a high level of volunteer time commitment or immersive volunteer-based program)
• Peninsula Bridge Teaching Assistant
• Boys and Girls of the Peninsula Summer Intern
• Life Moves Summer Intern or Camp Counselor
• Menlo Abroad Trip

Outside (non-Menlo) Opportunities
• Interning at a non-profit whose mission addresses a social or environmental injustice (3 weeks for full work days or 6 weeks for half work days commitment)

10 Credit Opportunities

Outside (non-Menlo) Opportunities
(high level of volunteer commitment over an extended period of time)
• Amigos High School Program (1 school year and summer commitment)
• Health City Tutor (1 academic year)
• Ronald McDonald House (6 month commitment)
• Lucile Packard Hospital (6 month commitment)


Optional Community Engagement INDIVIDUALIZED Project

In lieu of earning credits through smaller activities, students who are passionate about a particular issue can choose to examine the root causes of a social and/or an environmental problem in developing a project that matches their interests.  Interested students should contact the Director of Community Engagement to design their own project.  Students will earn up to 20 community engagement credits per academic year, and depending on the scope of this project, it can possibly qualify as the student’s Impact Initiative as well.  

Community Engagement Requirements: Class of 2019

Beginning in the second quarter, each sophomore will develop his or her Personalized Action-Community Time (PACT) proposal. Students can begin to implement their project in the spring of their sophomore year and have until the first day of classes their senior year to complete their volunteer work. The PACT enables students to build on the skills they developed as freshmen and gives them the freedom to create a service project related to a social issue of personal importance. PACT’s most important goal is to encourage students to take ownership and to develop a sense of commitment to purposes larger than themselves.

PACT Requirements: Students must do the following to complete their PACT:

  1. PLAN & RESEARCH: Complete an Action Plan and have it approved.
  2. VOLUNTEER: Serve at the organization a minimum of six times.
  3. REFLECT: Blog about your service work after your 3rd and 6th visit.
  4. SHARE: Present the project to the Menlo Community in the first quarter of the senior year.

Seniors, in addition to carrying out a successful PACT, are required to participate in at least five engagement experiences.

Community Engagement Quote