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Participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) program demonstrate their ongoing commitment to public service through engaging regularly and deeply with the issues, populations and organizations that matter most to them. In order to successfully complete the program, participants are required to complete and log 300 hours of service before they graduate.


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 and does not intend to have the final say in what should and should not count as service. Students wondering if something should be considered public service or not 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. Participants are required to log these 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 also log at least one service hour each semester in order to remain active in the program.

BPSS participants should be able to articulate exactly why they consider the work that they log in the Buckley Portfolio to be considered service.

Three types of service

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 serviceand also to incorporate all three of these types of service into their experiences in BPSS.

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 to serve

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. Also take a look at examples of service activities and organizations with which BPSS participants have worked.

For specific questions about service hours or what should and should not count as service, contact BPSS.