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Who can participate in BPSS?

All full-time undergraduate students with at least four semesters remaining at Carolina are welcome to enroll in BPSS. Transfer students with at least three semesters left are also able to enroll.

When can I enroll in BPSS?

Enrollment is open at the beginning of both the fall and spring semesters. Students interested in enrolling in BPSS can do so online through the Buckley Portfolio.

I just enrolled in BPSS but cannot attend an orientation session this semester. Can I still participate?

Yes! BPSS participants must attend an orientation session within the first two semesters of being enrolled in the program but can begin participating in the program during the term in which they enroll. The current orientation dates are available in the Buckley Portfolio for those who have not attended orientation.

How often do I need to log service hours?

Participants are required to log service hours in the Buckley Portfolio by the last day of class in the semester in which they occur (or the announced early fall deadline for summer hours) and include details and contact information for the associated organization. All participants must log at least one service hour each semester in order to remain active in the program.

Defining Service

What counts as service?

The Carolina Center for Public Service uses the term public service to describe the application of knowledge, skills and resources for the common good. Correspondingly, BPSS recognizes that a wide variety of paid and unpaid work can fall under the description of public service. Students wondering if something could be considered public service should reflect upon how exactly they and their communities define public service, what motivates them to do the activity and whom it ultimately will impact. In order for something to be logged and count for the purposes of BPSS, the activity must be connected to or benefit a community-based nonprofit organization, a government agency or a campus community service organization.

Still unsure? Here’s a framework we hope will help: Beginning with orientation, participants are encouraged to think about and participate in three different dimensions of service: direct service, policy-based service or organizational service.

  • Direct service could be described as hands on activities that give some form of direct assistance to particular people or communities.
  • Policy-based service is less direct and focuses more on social systems and how communities or the larger society are organized.
  • Organizational service deals with activities that support the existence and administration of an organization which may provide more direct or policy-based services.

Using these distinctions as a tool, participants are challenged to consider how their service activities fit into the broader picture of public service and also to incorporate all three of these types of service into their experiences in BPSS. Participants should be able to articulate exactly why the work that they log in the Buckley Portfolio is public service.

What does not count as service?

There are some things that should not be counted as service for the purposes of BPSS. These include:

  • Service hours completed before the term a student enrolls in BPSS
  • Independent service work not connected to a campus or community partner organization
  • Travel time to and from service sites
  • Work that is associated with promoting or converting others to a specific religion
  • Work that does not fit with a students’ own vision of public service

Receiving payment does not exclude an activity from being considered service for the purposes of BPSS.

For overnight or multi-day service experiences (such as alternative spring break and summer camp counseling) students may record a maximum of 12 hours per day and only if a full 12 hours were spent doing service. However, hours spent planning or coordinating prior to the actual event may be counted in addition to the 12 hours.

Where can I find service opportunities?

For students new to Chapel Hill or trying to decide how to get involved, BPSS created a tool that participants can use to explore the most common local, off-campus organizations that recent participants have been connected with. These organizations are listed by categories like focus area, frequency of projects logged with the organization and location. Visit the BPSS local service organization finder and click on Top 50 (frequency), Top 50 (hours), Common Focus Areas and Community Map to see data visualizations and learn what other BPSS participants are doing. And sign up for the Public Service News for a weekly digest of local service opportunities!

Service-Learning Course Component

What constitutes a service-learning course?

Participants in BPSS seek to connect their public service involvement with their academic experiences while at Carolina. BPSS participants must complete and log one service-learning course in order to successfully complete the program. A service-learning course is a credit-bearing academic course that:

  • Requires students to participate in at least 30 hours of service
  • Facilitates students’ reflection on their service experience
  • Connects students’ service experience with the course’s academic goals

This is the only component of BPSS that can be logged retroactively.

The most up-to-date service-learning course list for current and upcoming terms is posted on the APPLES Service-Learning Courses page. Service-learning courses that satisfy the Experiential Education requirement for graduation can also be found through searching the course attribute “CON-E3 – Service Learning” in ConnectCarolina.

What is a BPSS pre-approved service-learning course?

Academic courses that are pre-approved to count as service-learning courses for BPSS are included in the Buckley Portfolio. A detailed list of APPLES service-learning courses is also released before registration each semester and may help students select courses that fit with their other degree requirements.

Several other CCPS programs involve academic courses that count as service-learning courses for BPSS, including:

Can I create my own service-learning course or appeal a course that’s not already pre-approved?

Yes! If students would like to create their own service-learning course or appeal for an existing course not already in the list of pre-approved courses to count for BPSS, an appeal can be submitted in the Buckley Portfolio using the appeal form. Successful appeals include existing courses that meet the requirements but are not listed as service-learning courses, independent studies with service-learning components, the addition of a service-learning component to an existing course that is approved by the instructor and involves a final paper reflecting on the service-learning components of the course or a non-UNC-Chapel Hill course that fits the service-learning course requirements.

Students must submit the course syllabus and any other relevant course documentation by scanning them and uploading them with the course appeal form in the Buckley Portfolio.

Skills Training Component

What’s a skills training?

Participants in BPSS are not only involved in public service activities but also are actively seeking opportunities to develop skills that will make them better prepared for that public service and more useful to their community partners. In order to successfully complete the program, participants must complete and log at least four approved skills trainings.

BPSS has identified the following 10 skill areas as important to effective and responsible engagement in public service:

  • Advocacy and community organizing
  • Diversity and cultural awareness
  • Effective communication
  • Ethics and leadership
  • Evaluation and applied research
  • Financial management
  • Fundraising, grant writing and philanthropy
  • Planning and assessment
  • Service-specific training
  • Social entrepreneurship and innovation

In order to be approved for BPSS, a skills training must relate to one of these skills areas. A skills training may be on or off campus and can take the form of a workshop, a conference or non-academic course. The training must be in-person, interactive, activity-based and designed for participants to build and practice skills. Events where students simply learn information or gain awareness (such as through a lecture, panel or presentation) would not count as a skills training for the purposes of BPSS. Academic and professional conferences should count only as one skills training rather than a series of separate trainings.

What are some specific examples of skills trainings?

Many skills trainings that BPSS participants attend and log in their Buckley Portfolios are not sponsored by CCPS. Some examples of other on-campus trainings, series and conferences that have met (or included workshops that met) the skills training requirements in the past are:

  • Carolina Green Event Certification Trainings
  • CUBE Innovation Incubator Workshop Series
  • EcoReps Skills Trainings
  • Embody Carolina
  • Functional Leadership Workshop Series
  • HAVEN (Helping to Advocate Violence Ending Now) Training
  • Launching the Venture
  • OneAct Trainings
  • Rethink Psychiatric Illness
  • Safe Zone Trainings
  • SCALE’s Read. Write. Act. Conference
  • SkillsfUL Tech Workshops at the Undergraduate Library
  • STRETCH Conference
  • UNITY Conference
  • UNC Minority Health Conference

How do I record my completed skills trainings?

Like service hours, skills trainings must be logged by the BPSS participant in the Buckley Portfolio by the last day of class in the semester that they occur or, for summer skills trainings, by the announced early fall deadline.

Senior Reflection

What’s the senior reflection and how do I do it?

While reflection is a continuous part of a student’s participation in BPSS, participants will be required to submit a senior reflection during one of their final two semesters before graduation in order to successfully complete the program. The reflection will challenge students to articulate their philosophy of service and how it has developed over the years in response to the experiences they have logged in their Buckley Portfolios. Either a BPSS graduate assistant or CCPS staff member will review and provide an individualized response and feedback to each student submission in order to help them make meaning from their experiences in the program.

Seniors will receive information about the exact prompt and deadlines early in the fall semester of their senior year. Contact with questions about this process or if you are a senior and have not received information about how to complete your senior reflection.

BPSS Graduation

What happens when I complete the BPSS program?

Students who successfully complete all components of the Buckley Public Service Scholars program before graduation are honored for their achievement in the following ways:

  • Buckley Public Service Scholar graduation ceremony
  • Certificate of recognition with your name
  • Carolina blue and white cord
  • Listing in the University commencement program
  • Academic transcript notation of:
    • Buckley Public Service Scholar (cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher)
    • Special Recognition in Public Service (cumulative GPA of 2.5 – 2.9)

The Buckley Public Service Scholars graduation event is generously supported annually by James and Florence Peacock, friends of the Carolina Center for Public Service.

BPSS Graduate Assistants

I’m a graduate student. How can I be involved with BPSS?

To provide more opportunities for BPSS participants to find appropriate skills trainings, the Carolina Center for Public Service hires UNC graduate assistants to offer skills trainings to undergraduate BPSS participants each year. In the past, BPSS graduate assistants’ workshops have covered topics including:

  • The Affordable Care Act, your community and you
  • Building effective and diverse teams
  • Clarifying missions and measuring success
  • Creating shareable digital media
  • DisABILITY awareness and advocacy
  • Engaging culturally diverse communities: advocating for and working with refugee families
  • Ethics in service-learning
  • Get the help you need: finding and coordinating great volunteers
  • Grant writing I: grant proposal basics
  • Grant writing II: finding and applying for funding
  • Grassroots organizing: building community for social change
  • How to communicate with passion and win support for your cause
  • Teaching English Language Learners: techniques and tidbits
  • Tools for facilitation and program design
  • Transformational leadership
  • The value of voice: recognizing diversity and practicing cultural awareness
  • Working with kids: practical skills, tips and tricks!

Learn about the BPSS graduate assistant program.

Still have questions?

Who can I talk to with more specific questions about BPSS?

For more information, email BPSS, call 919-843-6829 or come by the CCPS office located in the Student Union, suite 3514.