Volunteer Hours for High School Students

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High School Graduation Requirements, Assessments and Expectations

All high school students (Grades 9-12) in the province of Ontario are required to complete 40 hours of community service as a graduation requirement. This requirement helps young people develop new skills while encouraging them to develop an awareness and understanding of civic responsibility as they play a role in contributing and strengthening their communities. These goals complement academic and work experience programs that are currently taking place in our schools.

Students can find a great list in our document for eligible community involvement activities.

Students can visit Volunteer Ottawa, Charity Village or SparkOntario, or contact a charitable organization in their community to explore current volunteer opportunities.

If you have any questions about Community Involvement Hours, including whether or not an activity is acceptable, please contact your Guidance Counsellor.

All students must complete community involvement activities as a requirement outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum No. 124a. These activities must be:

  • a minimum of 40 hours of unpaid service
  • included in the list of the OCSB’s eligible activities
  • completed outside of class time, including community involvement activities completed at school
  • completed by the end of Grade 12 in order to be eligible to graduate with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)

Students are responsible for selecting appropriate community involvement activities, behaving in a manner that demonstrates a positive work ethic and respect for others, and completing all required documentation according to the Board requirements. Parents/guardians are responsible for supporting their child in the selection of their community involvement activities, communicating with community sponsors and the school Principal with questions or concerns, and signing the Community Involvement Record if the student is under the age of 18.


Completing 40 hours before graduation

Students may begin collecting and documenting community involvement hours in July of the year before their Grade 9 school year. Students should plan to accumulate a minimum of 10 hours each year. However, students are encouraged to complete their hours before the start of their Grade 12 year as this is a busy year which may include part-time jobs which affect one’s ability to do volunteer work. A single activity or a series of short-term activities totalling 40 hours may be completed. A Community Involvement Record should be submitted no later than the first week of January or June to ensure completed hours can be recorded on report cards.


Request approval for an unlisted activity

In the event that a student would like to participate in an activity or event that is not clearly within the OCSB’s list of examples on this webpage, and does not conform to the guiding principles as set out, the student will submit a letter to the school’s Student Services/Guidance office detailing the proposed activity or nature of the participation and event.

The activity can not be commenced until permission has been granted. If completed without permission and permission is subsequently denied, the activity or event will not be counted toward the student’s community involvement requirement.

Record and submit your completed hours: The OCSB Community Involvement Record

Students should first review the list of eligible activities with a parent or guardian and together decide on an activity. As activities are completed, the details are to be recorded on a Community Involvement Record.

Until January 2021, parents/guardians will be allowed to sign for hours. Students must still include the contact information of someone other than a parent who can verify the activity and hours completed. Students should submit their Community Involvement Record of summer activities to their school when completed.

Eligible community involvement activities

Community involvement activities may take place in a variety of settings, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, public sector institutions (including hospitals), and information settings. The OCSB has developed a list of community involvement activities that are considered acceptable.

Eligible activities may include an event or activity designed to be of benefit to the community and/or supports a not-for-profit agency, institution or foundation that conforms to the ethical standards of the OCSB and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

The following list provides examples of activities that, if within the intent and spirit of community involvement, are suitable for completion of the community involvement requirement. Unapproved activities cannot be commenced until permission has been granted by the school.

Examples of community involvement activities

Type of activity Examples
School community service: These must be completed outside students’ class time and may include assisting with arts initiatives, school sports teams, charity/social action projects, school committees, peer tutoring, peer helping and/or youth ministry
Parish community service: These may include helping, leading and/or organizing child minding during liturgies, Eucharistic ministry, altar serving, greeting/ushering at church activities, music ministry, reading at Mass, Sunday school, parish committees, social justice initiatives and/or youth ministry
More examples of community involvement

In the wider community, these may include opportunities in not for profit, charity or community service organizations:

Type of activityExamples
Fundraising: Canvassing, walk-a-thons for community benefit, celebrity games, gift wrapping, gala and sales for charitable purposes (Canadian Cancer Society, United Way, CHEO Foundation)
Sports/recreation: Coaching and helping to organize Special Olympics, track meets and summer games, volunteering as a buddy or pool assistant
Community events: Helping organize winter carnivals, parades, and summer fairs (Winterlude, Tulip Festival, Festival Franco Ontarien, Santa Claus parade)
Community projects: Participating in organized food drives, support services for community groups (Shepherds of Good Hope, 4H clubs)
Environmental projects: Participating in community clean-up, flower/tree planting, recycling, and general beautification projects and activities (Clean Up the Capital)
Volunteer work with seniors: Assisting in a seniors' residence, e.g. serving snacks, helping with activities or portering, or participating in visiting and reading programs
Health agencies: Volunteering in hospitals, hospices, and Canadian Blood Services (assist at a blood donor clinic or time to donate blood)
Committee work: Participating on advisory boards or neighbourhood associations and regional associations
Youth program: Assisting with the operation of not for profit youth programs, (Scouts, Guides, City of Ottawa), drop-in centre activities, breakfast programs, child care programs, March break programs, Leaders in Training, summer playground activities and camps (St. Brigid’s, Waupoos Farm)
Work with animals: Assisting with animal care, horseback riding programs, or volunteer assistance at a local zoo or petting farm (Humane Society)
Arts and culture: Assisting at a gallery, performing arts production or program, or in a community library program
*Activities for individuals: Assisting someone who requires support with shopping, tutoring, light snow removal (no use of snowblower), or housekeeping (*pre-approval recommended)
Ineligible Activities

Examples of ineligible (not approved) activities

  • provides direct financial benefit to the student or to the student’s family
  • is affiliated with an organization that promotes values contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church
  • would normally be performed for wages by a person in the workplace
  • is a requirement of a class or course (i.e. co-op education, job shadowing)
  • takes place during class time (lunch or study hall activities are permissible)
  • is a student exchange program
  • consists of duties normally performed in the home (i.e. daily chores) or personal recreational activities
  • involves a court-ordered program
  • involves the administration of any type or form of medication or medical procedure
  • involves handling of substances classed as “designated substances” under the Occupational Health & Safety Act
  • takes place in a logging or mining environment, if student under 16
  • takes place in a factory, if student under 15
  • takes place in a workplace other than a factory if the student is under 14 years of age and is not accompanied by an adult
  • involves the operation of a vehicle, power tools, or scaffolding
  • requires knowledge of a trades person whose trade is regulated by the provincial government
  • involves banking or handling of securities, or the handling of jewellery, works of art, antiquities or other valuables

Police records checks

Students are required to obtain a Police Records Check only if the community involvement activity is with the federal, provincial, or municipal government. Results of the Police Records Check will be sent directly to the government agency. If the community involvement activity takes place within the OCSB, a check is not required. Non-government agencies are not authorized to request Police Records Checks.

Community sponsors

One of the purposes of the community involvement requirement is to develop strong ties between students and their community, and to foster valuable and long-term relationships. Persons and organizations within the community may be asked by the student to sponsor a community involvement activity. Any training, equipment, or special preparation that is required for the activity should be provided by the person or organization. It is crucial that students are able to fulfill their community involvement activities in a safe environment. The person overseeing the student’s activity must verify the date(s) and the number of hours completed on the Community Involvement Record.

Community sponsors should ensure that the activities completed by student volunteers are not on the Ministry of Education’s or the OCSB’s list of ineligible activities, and that the activities fall within the Board’s guiding principles and are identified on the Board’s list of examples. Community sponsors will be responsible for ensuring that their liability insurance will protect them for their involvement in this program. As with other programs, such as “Take Our Kids to Work,” the School Board’s insurance does not provide coverage for the negligence of the community sponsors.

Liability insurance coverage

The school board’s liability insurance carried with Ontario School Board’s Insurance Exchange (OSBIE) will provide coverage for the students and the community sponsors from any lawsuits that may arise from the students’ activities in the community involvement program during the 40 hours of volunteer work required. The board’s liability insurance does NOT cover student injuries while they are completing their 40 hours of service, nor does it cover the sponsoring organization for lawsuits that arise from their negligence. Should your child require OSBIE coverage for any additional hours (over the required 40 hours), this is subject to the review and approval of your child’s school principal.