40 Hours of Community Involvement FAQ
In Ontario, high school students must complete 40 hours of volunteering in order to graduate, but volunteering is also an amazing way to make a difference, learn new skills, gain experience, and meet new people!
What counts as volunteering for my community service hours?
Any work where you are paid or are replacing a paid worker is not considered volunteering. This includes part-time work, school co-op placements and working for a family business.
Check the resource links provided or ask your guidance counsellor what experiences your school counts towards volunteering. What qualifies as volunteering can differ between school boards and may need the approval of your school principal.
What kinds of volunteering can I do?
Volunteer positions must fall into one of these categories to be considered for hours:
- Formal volunteering: includes voluntary activities for any not-for-profit institution or foundation, e.g., helping with events or working with youth
- Informal volunteering: includes voluntary activities that are done not directly through a not-for-profit or organization
- Virtual volunteering: This is when you volunteer from your computer or phone. It is a great option for students because of the flexibility it affords. For example, if you are short on money for transportation, busy with school or want to minimize contact due to the pandemic, you may want to explore this option. Many not-for-profits have been moving more towards using virtual volunteers, which has only accelerated because of COVID-19.
There are many ways to volunteer! For example, you could:
- Play soccer with kids
- Create social media content for a not-for-profit
- Teach English to newcomers to Canada
- Visit with seniors virtually
Further resources for discovering volunteering opportunities
- What Kind of Volunteer Are You? – Volunteer Canada – This quiz helps you find out what kind of volunteer you are!
- Skills Self-Assessment – Volunteer Canada – This assessment tool can help you match your skills and interests to volunteer ideas that may connect you to
- Develop Your Passion – Volunteer Canada – This document shows how you can use your interests and passions in volunteering to help find your future career path.
When should I start volunteering?
The sooner, the better! Between schoolwork, post-secondary applications and part-time jobs, Grade 12 is a busy year for many high school students. If you wait, your options will be more limited, and volunteer positions are not always available on short notice. Ontario recommends volunteering a minimum of 10 hours each year before Grade 12. Students can start volunteering for their hours as early as the summer before Grade 9.
Check how much time you have until your volunteer hours must be submitted. Your hours should be submitted no later than the first week of January or May, so they appear on your report card. Give yourself at least a few months to find a position. Ideal opportunities to look for are:
- Virtual positions or ones with flexible hours
- Informal volunteering
- Special one-time events or short-term positions
What will I need to volunteer for my 40 hours?
Community Involvement Hours Form
You will need a Community Involvement Hours Form. It is used to keep track of your hours, which your volunteer supervisor can then sign off on. Upon completion, this form is submitted to your school and your hours can be counted towards fulfilling your graduation requirement.
Police Record Check
An organization may want you to submit a police record check or vulnerable sector check (VSC) for a volunteering position. The VSC is a more comprehensive check used if you are volunteering in a position of authority or trust with vulnerable populations such as children.
Organizations cannot get criminal record checks for youth aged 12-17. As an alternative, an organization might have your parents sign a consent form instead.