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Community Engagement Program

Rooted in Maret’s essential skills, the Community Engagement and Partnerships program empowers and prepares students to effect positive, transformative change in their communities. Through a variety of experiential and service programs, students engage with issues of equity and develop skills needed for compassionate, respectful, and equitable relationships across difference. 

Key Tenets of Community Engagement at Maret

Maret’s program challenges the traditional service model with intentional, reciprocal relationships that create meaningful engagement for our students. The following principles guide our work with students and partners.

Respect and Reciprocity

The organizations with which we partner work with Maret to co-create information and knowledge and co-lead activities that strengthen our communities. As a result, Maret students gain as much as they give.


Our most successful programs foster long-term relationships among students, educators, and local non-profit leaders with the aim of addressing social problems in our region. The alliances with other organizations create challenging yet safe spaces for students to cultivate community and individual connections, to succeed, to fail, and to develop compassion, empathy, and caring.


Throughout their time at Maret, students have multiple opportunities to reflect on their community engagement and how it relates to broader issues of justice. They are reminded that our lives are intertwined with others in our community: we have a responsibility to each other, and there are tangible steps we can take to listen to, learn from, and help our neighbors in the DC metro area.

Programming by Division

Work off campus is supported by a developmentally appropriate, in-class curriculum that helps students understand the structural issues that create the need for these important community organizations.

Maret Environmental Spirit Week

Lower School

Lower School students engage in their wider community in a variety of ways. In social studies, each grade level chooses a social problem to study over the course of the year. The Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships and the Lower School Librarian connect classes with local and national groups who can provide speakers and learning materials to support the curriculum.

During the week leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students learn about King’s legacy and work to build a Beloved Community. Each class completes a service project to support the clients of a local organization that addresses the social problem they are studying in class. Recent partners have included Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, Thrive DC, Martha’s Table/McKenna’s Wagon, A Wider Circle, the Klingle Valley Trail/Tregaron Conservancy, PetConnect Rescue, and local community gardens.

Older student reading to younger student

Middle School

The Middle School community engagement program is integrated into the academic and advising curricula. These are some of our recent programs; projects change from year to year.

Maret Community Service Day

Upper School

Students in ninth through twelfth grades engage with local organizations to fulfill their graduation requirement of 30 hours of community engagement. Each year with their advisory groups, students take part in the Upper School Community Engagement Day. Over the last twenty years, Community Engagement Day has taken on a variety of formats designed to help students and faculty explore civic engagement, advocacy, policy initiatives, and community organizing. Activities have included direct and indirect service opportunities, speakers, assemblies, and retreats.

In addition, Maret’s Intensive Study Week program in February gives our Upper School students many opportunities to build partnerships with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Houston Disaster Relief Work. Through Senior Projects, our seniors spend two weeks making a difference with groups such as All Hands Volunteers, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, and the Equal Rights Coalition.

Teachers of tenth through twelfth graders can also choose to incorporate work with a local organization into their academic courses to give students the curricular grounding for meaningful community engagement.

Past & Present Partners

We are grateful for our community partners!

Martha’s Table • A Wider Circle • DC Central Kitchen • The Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center • National Coalition for the Homeless • Capital Area Food Bank • Claggett Farm •  Food and Friends • Bread for the City • Father McKenna Center • Central Union Mission • Thrive DC • Catholic Charities • S.O.M.E. • Anacostia Watershed • Whitman Walker Health