Menlo students volunteer at the Special Olympics at Cartan Field in 2023.

Student Life

Upper School Community Engagement

Growing Awareness, Activism, and Empathy

Menlo’s Upper School Community Engagement aims to develop students’ activism, awareness, and empathy and empowers students to become ethical, responsible, and engaged members of ever wider communities.

Community Engagement’s Four Areas of Focus 

Community engagement challenges students to learn through experience and acts of service and to grow in and reflect on four areas of focus meant to help students develop critical consciousness and awareness of injustices and inequities in the world around them: 

  • Getting out of your comfort zone
  • Building empathy
  • Growing social consciousness
  • Taking action on issues that matter to you

Community Engagement (CE): A Graduation Requirement

CE is a graduation requirement at Menlo because its four areas of focus are essential skills for a life of active citizenship, in line with our school mission and values “to become ethical, responsible, and engaged members of ever wider communities” and “commitment to purposes greater than ourselves.”

We don’t simply want students to be ready for college when they graduate from Menlo—we want them to be ready to take on a leadership role in changing the reality of the world for the better. In order to do this, it’s essential that students have numerous and diverse service experiences throughout high school. Students must accumulate at least 40 CE credits by graduation, but many Menlo students far exceed this requirement. 

“10 AND 3”

Each year, Menlo Upper School students must complete at least 10 CE credits through at least 3 unique community engagement experiences.

  • Any experiences between June 1 and August 25 of a year can be counted for the previous academic year—input reflections by August 25—for the coming academic year—input reflections after August 25.
  • Reflections are due the day before the start of the new school year.

“YLE:” Year-Long Engagement

Students who wish to engage in more intensive and consistent service throughout the year can apply to carry out a Year-Long Engagement (YLE). Learn more about YLE and the application process here.

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Community Engagement Credit Guide

How are CE credits earned?

To earn CE credit, a student must engage in a qualifying CE experience, write a reflection on Fortress (how-to video), and then have that reflection approved by the Director of Community Engagement. Students should submit their reflections soon after completing the experience. If you are doing something repeatedly, wait until the end of the experience to write your reflection for it.

What experiences qualify for CE credit?

A qualifying CE experience is any service activity you take on outside of an academic class and for which you are not paid. It does not need to be sponsored by Menlo. There are also some cultural or community activities that qualify.

How many credits is a CE experience worth?

In some cases, experiences will be given a specific credit worth. Otherwise, credits are calculated by the following formula: for every hour of activity, a student earns .5 credits.
For example: If you tutor 2x a week for an hour, for 6 weeks, totaling 24 hours of activity, you have earned 12 credits.

Community Engagement Opportunities

Students can see a list of upcoming CE opportunities, share opportunities of their own, and connect with partner organizations by exploring the Community Engagement Canvas page. We recommend students bookmark the document at the link above to quickly see the latest CE opportunities. Want some personalized ideas based on your interests? Take this survey developed by Knight Vision, Menlo’s community engagement club, and they’ll respond with some experiences that should work for you!

We also recommend the following search engines to find service opportunities for teenagers:

Community Engagement Awards

At the end of each year, students who have exceeded the number of credits required and thrown themselves into community engagement work will be recognized with a certificate at a school assembly for their exemplary service.