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The Service-Learning Initiative (SLI) is a unique student-led introduction to service-learning and the local Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. SLI introduces incoming first-year and transfer students to service and we are excited to expand this program to include an additional SLI opportunity open to all students at Carolina.

SLI 2020 will not be held prior to the start of fall semester, due to the shift in academic calendar in response to COVID-19. We will hopefully provide service programming specific to first-year students during the first 6 weeks of the semester. Please email APPLES or apply for SLI through the CCPS Application Portal if you are interested in learning more.

SLI: Launch takes place at the beginning of fall semester and is open to new Carolina students. Each year, over three days in the week before classes start, participants learn about and work with APPLES community partners, become more aware of local social justice issues, form lasting friendships with other engaged students and are introduced to reflection as a tool for making meaning out of service experiences. Read about the 2019 SLI Launch experience!

SLI: Engage is a weekend service-learning experience and is open to all students at Carolina. This program includes service in the community, conversations and activities about sustainability, and discussions on how to continue being engaged as a public servant not just in college, but during summer vacations or after graduation. Information about SLI: Engage 2021 will be shared spring semester 2021.

SLI participants are also introduced to other campus and community service organizations and become connected with a network of current students who may help during their Carolina experience. Many participants become involved with other components of the APPLES Service-Learning program or choose to be involved with planning and leading future SLI programs. There is a non-refundable fee associated with SLI and need-based financial assistance may be available upon request.


To participate in SLI: Launch, a student must:

  • Be an incoming first-year or transfer student at Carolina
  • Submit an online application
  • Pay a $60 non-refundable program fee, once accepted
  • Move into the residence halls on the morning of the Wednesday before classes start
  • Be ready to learn a lot and have tons of fun!

Out-of-state students must attend a University first-year orientation session prior to the program. Students who need financial assistance to participate in SLI should contact Becca Bender.

To participate in SLI: Engage, a student must:

  • Be a current undergraduate student at Carolina
  • Submit an online application
  • Pay the required $15 program fee, once accepted
  • Be available for the entirety of the program weekend and actively engage and participate
  • Be ready to learn how to engage in continued service and have fun!

What to Expect

The Service-Learning Initiative (SLI) is held for new students the week before classes start (Launch) as well as for current students during a spring semester weekend (Engage). Over the course of three days, students volunteer with different local community partners in small groups, reflect together on their experiences and learn about social issues through various activities.  Every year, SLI takes on a theme that the participants will be able to explore throughout the three days. The current theme for SLI is sustainability which includes environmental sustainability, sustainable practices for food and waste (which coincides with the university’s pan-campus theme) and sustainable partnerships, which is an important component of APPLES Service-Learning.

Many students will have the opportunity to connect with long-time community partners that work to alleviate the issues of food insecurity or work to protect the environment. Additionally, all students will participate in a small-group social innovation activity facilitated by several organizations working directly with relevant social issues. Throughout the program, participants will be engaging with student leaders who will be able to provide insight into service opportunities at UNC-CH as well as general knowledge on college life. An SLI T-shirt and meals are included in the cost of participating in the program.


The SLI itinerary usually follows this outline (Launch only):

Day 1

  • Move into residence halls
  • SLI check-in and introduction
  • Dinner and presentation from site leaders
  • Pre-reflection
  • Social activities

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Volunteer with first community partner
  • Lunch
  • Volunteer with second community partner
  • Free time
  • Dinner
  • Social innovation activity focused on program theme
  • Reflection session

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Volunteer with third community partner
  • Lunch
  • Reflection session
  • “How to Get Involved” session with SLI and APPLES student leaders


SLI incorporates two main reflection sessions – one after the first day of service work and the second at the end of the program. Reflection sessions introduce students to service-learning and encourage them to think critically about the service in which they are participating. Less formal reflection that grows out of participant experiences often occurs throughout the program, as well.

Potential Sites

SLI tries to return to many of the same sites each year in order to maintain relationships with community partners. Many partners are connected to other components of the APPLES Service-Learning program, as well. Community partners for SLI 2019 included Battle Park, Carolina Campus Community Garden, Club Nova, IFC HomeStart, Orange County Schools, TABLE and SECU Family House.

For more information, contact APPLES.

Still have questions? Check out our SLI FAQ.


Applications for first-year programming are currently open through the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal. Due to COVID-19 and the shift in the academic calendar for fall 2020, we will not be holding SLI prior to the start of classes; however, we will use the list of applicants to advertise permitted service activities, specific for first-year students. Stay tuned! Email APPLES with questions.


The Carolina Center for Public Service at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for its events and programs. If you need accommodations, please contact or call 919-962-0902. Every reasonable effort will be made to implement accommodations in an effective and timely manner.