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California Serves Frequently Asked Questions

Information about and resources regarding the California Serves Program.

Assembly Bill 181 (2022) established the California Serves Program (California Education Code [EC] Section 51475 External link opens in new window or tab.), a collaboration between the California Department of Education (CDE) and California Volunteers External link opens in new window or tab.. The California Serves Program will promote access to effective service learning for public school students in grade twelve, with the goal of expanding access for high school graduates in obtaining a State Seal of Civic Engagement (SSCE) through service learning.

This program is under development, and this page will be updated as additional information becomes available.

  1. Who is eligible for the grant?

    California local educational agencies (LEAs), defined as a school district, county office of education, or charter school, that meet two eligibility criteria are eligible to apply for a California Serves grant (as indicated in EC Section 51475 External link opens in new window or tab.):

    • The LEA must serve students in grade twelve; and
    • Per EC Section 51475(d), at least 55 percent of the pupils enrolled in applicant LEAs shall be unduplicated pupils as defined in EC Section 2574 or 42238.02, as applicable.

    Private schools and universities are not eligible to apply for a California Serves grant.
  2. Are local educational agencies (LEAs) eligible to apply as a consortium?
    Yes, an LEA may apply as part of a consortium, so long as all consortium members meet the eligibility criteria (see FAQ 1 above for eligibility criteria).

    Please keep the following in mind if applying as a consortium:

    • Each participating LEA in a consortium is eligible to apply for up to $500,000. The maximum grant award for each consortium depends on the number of participating LEAs. For instance, a consortium of three LEAs would be permitted to apply for a maximum grant of up to $1,500,000.

    • The lead applicant should:
      • Submit one application on behalf of the consortium, and indicate in the Executive Summary all LEAs to be included in the consortium.
      • Include one project budget for the consortium. (The budget narrative should clearly explain how funds will be spent among the consortium members.) No one consortium member may expend more than $500,000.
      • Provide any additional information related to the operations of the consortium in the Proposed Activities section of the online application.
      • Be prepared to provide Letters of Commitment from all consortium members prior to a Grant Award Notification being issued.

    • Please keep in mind that the lead applicant will serve as the fiscal agent and be responsible for all grant deliverables.
  3. Are LEAs required to offer the SSCE in order to be eligible for a California Serves grant?

    For the pilot year of the grant (2022–23), LEAs should either already offer the SSCE to eligible students, or be actively in the process of developing local programming to offer the SSCE to eligible students beginning in the 2023–24 school year.

  4. How many grants will be awarded?

    EC does not identify a minimum or maximum number of grants to be awarded. The maximum amount of each grant is $500,000, and up to $5 million in total grants funding is available each year.

  5. How long do participating LEAs have to spend grant funds?

    The funding period for grants awarded during the 2022–23 grant cycle ends June 30, 2025.

  6. What are eligible expenses under this grant?
    EC specifies that eligible grant expenses include:

    • Paid planning time for teachers to increase the use of service learning in instruction.
    • Professional development on service learning for administrators and teachers.
    • Purchase of instructional materials to help integrate service learning in instruction.
    • Participation costs, including materials or travel expenses related to service learning activities.
    • Personnel costs for coordinating service learning at the LEA or a school site.
    • Participation costs associated with grant program evaluation.
  7. How is “service learning” defined related to this grant?

    EC Section 51475 defines “service learning” as an educational approach that intentionally combines meaningful community service activities with instruction and reflection to support pupil progress toward academic and civic engagement learning objectives while meeting societal needs.

  8. What are the LEA reporting requirements?
    The CDE and California Volunteers are required to submit an annual report on the program to the Legislature. To comply with this requirement, participating LEAs will be required to submit information to participate in grant program evaluation. EC requires the following information to be submitted annually:

    • The number of participating pupils, schools, and LEAs
    • Demographics of pupils engaged in service learning as a result of the grant
    • Impact of the service performed by pupils and school staff as a result of the grant
    • Pupil outcomes in academic, civic engagement, and other learning objectives measured identified by the CDE and California Volunteers

    Additional information regarding reporting requirements will be provided to grant recipients.
Questions:   Professional Learning Innovations Office |
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, February 08, 2023