BFS
BFS Turns 150
1980s-park-cleanup

A BFS Tradition, Learning through Service

1995 – Service at the “Park”
(now known as the Marriott)

Certainly, there are myriad ways in which we all contribute to the greater good of our world, but BFS has a long tradition of encouraging its students and families to learn through giving their time, energy and monies to non-profit organizations, including to BFS. Last year’s article about BFS students helping families overseas after World War II is just one of many examples of our school’s long-standing commitment to community service. BFS has just engaged a new Director of Service Learning, Natania Kremer, who is profiled in a recent article at the BFS website, and states “…it’s wonderful to be looking at service learning schoolwide starting at age 2.” Also wonderful is that Natania joins us right in time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the service learning graduation requirement at BFS.


Thirty years ago this September, BFS was at the forefront of education when it instituted a service learning requirement for graduation that began with the future Class of 1986, which just happened to include yours truly. BFS’s formal service learning program was only a year old in September of 1983, and it was then called Outreach – in keeping with the Quaker tradition of Outreach. The Outreach program at BFS was then available to all Upper School students and many participated, even though service was not yet a requirement for all at that point. As a result of the program’s early success in engaging Upper School students with local organizations, BFS almost immediately received grants from several foundations to enhance Outreach. Our school hosted Brooklyn’s first-ever Service Fair in October, 1983 which introduced Upper School students at BFS and Packer to 14 local organizations seeking volunteers. As interest in service learning grew, far more schools began attending our service fairs. BFS even published a service learning magazine for the BFS and NY independent school communities. To learn more about how service learning became the BFS tradition we celebrate every day, the enlightening article A Voice in the Wilderness Launches Community Service Learning in the 1980s gives the whole story. 

Raking at Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park

If you’re looking to do something wonderful on Saturday, November 16, consider joining BFS from 10 am to 4 pm at our Annual Community Day of Service at Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park, which just happens to be the final resting place of many of our BFS forebears, including our first principal Mary Haviland and long-time BFS trustee Will Walter Jackson. We hope for beautiful weather as we join with members of New York Quarterly Meeting to clean up and plant bulbs at one of the most beautiful and interesting cemeteries in New York City. More information on this event is available at the PAT section of the BFS website. Hope to see you there!

Of course, for organizations worthy of your continual support, look no further than BFS. Not only does our school rely upon its incredible volunteers, but every education at BFS is made possible by gifts from community members like you. Gifts of all amounts to BFS help our school educate our students in many ways, including through service learning – our Upper School students now travel across the U.S. to rebuild with organizations like Habitat for Humanity

One person will never be able to do everything, but, together, we can do almost anything. Please make your gift to BFS today.

Planting at Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park