Service Learning

A Guiding Principle of The REAL Program

Service learning is defined as a teaching method that combines academic instruction, meaningful service, and critical reflective thinking to enhance learning and civic responsibility. The Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty in the 1960’s and 70’s led by a number of grassroots movements provided the impetus for community involvement in the Peace Corps, VISTA, the Senior Companion Program, Habitat for Humanity, and several other worthwhile, industrious programs. John F. Kennedy urged the nation to “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and Martin Luther King, Jr., called individuals to action when he proclaimed that “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”


The breakthrough of service learning at the national level occurred in 1990 when President George Bush signed the National and Community Service Act. Reauthorized in 1993 as the National and Community Service Trust Act, and signed by President Bill Clinton, it defined service learning as a method:

(A) under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that –

(i) is conducted in and meets the needs of a community;
(ii) is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and
(iii) helps foster civic responsibility; and (B) that –
(i) is integrated into and enhances the [core] academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and
(ii) provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the
service experience.


The REAL Program works with schools of higher education and high schools where students are seeking community connections through meaningful service learning. Committed students work with young children to role model, teach and learn together. Dedicated professionals provide guidance and experience as mentors in this intergenerational model. The REAL Program provides teaching, listening and sharing opportunities for future, current and retired educators who are interested in making a difference. These are people who socially invest in our communities through teaching and mentoring young children.

Did You Know?


​We have taken on the commitments and mission of Play it Forward Giving Circle and we have expanded our school partnerships since then. 


The programs are the Tracy-Pingree School Partnership, The Legacy Institute for Early Childhood Educators and the Art and Honor of Teaching.


Our school partnerships now include the Lynn English High School and Swampscott High School!


This is Playing it Forward for REAL!​

The REAL (Reading and Educational Assistance for Learning) Program's mission is to improve literacy in Lynn, Massachusetts.

The REAL Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 
Donate or volunteer today!

The REAL Program, Inc.

Payne Family Literacy House
17 Atlantic Street • Lynn, MA 01902

Director: Jan Plourde • 978-993-4425 •

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