• Community
  • Engagement
The Community Engagement program at GDS strives to teach empathy, respect, and love for one another through experiential programs that challenge, inspire and dare us to be better friends to ourselves, our peers, and the earth we all share.
These programs are embedded in students’ school life as service-learning projects, advocacy initiatives, and community service activities, which often have curricular ties. Community Engagement at GDS includes working closely with local community organizations, as well as within our GDS community.

Community service has been a bedrock of GDS’s educational mission since the school’s founding. We firmly believe that independent community service helps prepare GDS students for life. Students who interact within and outside of their communities, who have engaged with —and learned about—a variety of individuals, and who have had to think critically about real-world problems, leave GDS prepared for the 21st century with better communication and collaboration skills, an ability to think creatively about the world’s challenges, and tools that empower them to address the systemic inequities that exist in the world.
Students pose in Puerto Rico
Hoppers travel to Puerto Rico to support rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria.
Students working together on a craft
Third graders partner with students at Centronia, a bilingual school in Columbia Heights, to complete an art project.
Students gardening
Middle schoolers work in the garden at Capital Area Food Bank.
Students cooking
Students walking in desert
Students travel to the Navajo Nation every summer to learn about Navajo history and culture and work alongside community partners in Arizona and New Mexico.
Students playing on a field
While on the Navajo Trip, students engage with Navajo and Pueblo youth.
Students pose in front of recycling truck
Lower School students learn about environmental sustainability and recycling.


Through a focus on community engagement, GDS students will...

  • Gain a deepened understanding of inequities and injustice in the world.
  • Develop relationships with communities beyond our campus.
  • Realize individual and collective agency in meeting the needs of others.
  • Advocate for social justice issues through words, art, and action.
  • Engage in ongoing reflection.

Signature Programs

GDS uses a combination of instruction, service, real-world collaboration, and reflection to inspire students to become fully engaged citizens in diverse communities. Students must complete 60 hours of approved service by senior year.

For four weeks during June and July, students learn about pressing social justice issues, such as veteran homelessness and affordable housing. Learn More »

6th Grade Green Corps
The 6th grade focuses on issues of environmental justice at GDS. Students create a school garden and use their harvests to augment food options for those with limited access in the community.
7th Grade Conservation Corps
The 7th grade focuses on cleaning up the environment here in DC. They also investigate recycling and composting programs and suggest ways we can become more responsible citizens at GDS.
8th Grade Advocacy Corps

In 8th grade, students grapple with pertinent contemporary issues of equity and access through a framework that builds empathy, then dives into policy, and finally allows students to take action.


Third graders visit their buddies from CentroNía (a bilingual preschool) multiple times throughout the year before hosting a final celebration at GDS, building relationships and learning about each others’ languages and cultures.


Our Stories

Students smiling on steps

In an effort to welcome GDS students in the new year with joy and purpose, we introduce Joyful January x CAN-uary.

Meet the Team

Michelle McKeever

Community Engagement & Experiential Learning Program Associate

Derrick Stewart

Auxiliary Programs Team Member & Buddy Program Coordinator

Leigh Tait

Director of Community Engagement & Experiential Learning