Cesar Chavez Serve and Learn Program

The Cesar Chavez Serve and Learn Program instills an ethic of service and civic responsibility in our young people. This innovative concept of Service Learning couples academic instruction with related community-service projects.

The Cesar Chavez Serve and Learn Program takes place in three parts:

  • Pre-service
  • Service
  • Project reflection

Cesar Chavez Serve and Learn ProgramStudents are taught the values of Cesar Chavez and how his leadership changed the lives of thousands of migrant farm workers. Based on student's awareness of Chavez's life, they are encouraged to look within their own community and emulate his work, addressing present-day community issues. The final step of the program is project reflection, which allows students to discuss what they've learned and share their community service experience with their school.

During the week of March 31 (Chavez's birthday), schools, agencies and community organizations may participate in this innovative program to encourage community service by our young people while serving as an educational tool for school history, social studies, environmental and art classes.

Students across Illinois will learn the importance of community service by addressing hunger issues, volunteering at nursing homes, cleaning up parks and planting gardens.

Cesar Chavez was a labor leader who dedicated his life to improving the standard of living, wages and working conditions of farm workers. Chavez was a labor organizer, civil rights crusader and a war veteran who joined the U.S. Navy in 1945 and served in the Western Pacific at the end of World War II. Founder of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Union, Chavez's tireless commitment opened untold doors for disenfranchised migrants and workers.

Although he died in 1993, his spirit still lives. One way to celebrate his life and legacy is through the Cesar Chavez Serve and Learn Program. This program is geared toward K-12 students who, through academic instruction and community service projects, will learn the importance of service to others and the difference they truly can make.

Cesar Chavez – A Legacy of Service and Conviction

Cesar Chavez 1927-1993 Cesar Chavez

As described by his family, Cesar Chavez was an ordinary man with an extraordinary legacy of great accomplishment and service to humanity. Cesar was born March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona on a farm his grandfather homesteaded in the 1880s.

At age 10, his life as a migrant farm worker began when his family lost their land during the Great Depression.

These were bitterly poor years for the Chavez family as they, together with thousands of other displaced families, migrated throughout the Southwest to labor in the fields and vineyards.

Although he possessed a thirst for learning that he would exhibit throughout the course of his life, Cesar left school after the eighth grade to help support his family. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1945 and served in the Western Pacific in the aftermath of World War II. In 1948, he married Helen Febela, whom he met while working in the vineyards of Delano. The Chavez family settled in the East San Jose barrio of Sal Si Puedes from which he continued to work in the surrounding fields, orchards, and vineyards of the region.

It was in 1952 that Cesar's life as a community organizer began. While working in the apricot orchards outside San Jose, he became a full-time organizer with the Community Service Organization (CSO), a self-help group among Mexican-Americans. In this capacity he organized voter registration drives, battled racial and economic discrimination, and organized CSO chapters across California and Arizona. Following his dream to establish an organization dedicated to farm workers, Cesar moved his family to Delano, California in 1962 to establish the National Farm Workers Association.

Over the next thirty-one years, Cesar would forge a legacy of service, conviction and principled leadership that serves as a beacon for all Americans. As President of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), AFL-CIO, he founded and led the first successful farm workers union in U.S. history. Under his stewardship a broad coalition of unions, religious groups, students, minorities, and consumers joined together to pursue social justice.

The late Senator Robert Kennedy called Cesar Chavez, "One of the heroic figures of our time." As a testimony to his lifelong contributions to humanity, he received the highest civilian awards from the United States and Mexico, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Aguila Azteca respectively.

This is the legacy that we celebrate and seek to share with all our children through the Cesar Chavez Serve and Learn Program.

"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community...Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own."

– Cesar Chavez

¡Si Se Puede!