What is the Montgomery Plan?

The Montgomery Plan was founded in 1974 to motivate Burroughs students to become active volunteers in the St. Louis area. Typically, more than half of the senior class meets the Montgomery Plan guidelines to graduate with voluntary community service recognized on their high school transcripts; in past years, graduating classes have donated from 8,000 to 17,000 total hours of service to the greater St. Louis community. Further evidence of the program’s success is that the Montgomery Plan Service Club is one of the most active clubs on campus.

The Montgomery Plan Service Club is a student group that learns about and sponsors community service opportunities for middle school and high school students. Students in any grade may participate. Monthly meetings are generally held on Special Meeting Thursdays at 8 am in the Science Auditorium. The officers of the Montgomery Plan Service Club are chosen by the faculty sponsors based on experience, leadership, and commitment to community service. Officers promote service learning through all club events and drives, filling leadership roles with larger events like the Danna Drive, the Holiday Food Drive, Empty Bowls, Old Newsboys Day, and the Music Sundays recital series. At the monthly meetings students discuss, evaluate and plan community service activities, collection drives, etc., and learn about local charitable organizations that seek teenage volunteers. Attendance at club meetings ranges from 20 to 60 students.

The Montgomery Plan Service Club typically sponsors at least one group service experience each month; each activity is led by experienced members of the club and participation is open to all grades. These community service activities include serving as 'buddies' for athletes with special needs, helping at the ‘Senior Prom’ (for senior citizens), tending urban gardens for Gateway Greening or Metropolitan Village Apartments, weatherizing the homes of the elderly poor, clearing trash and debris from Chouteau Island along banks of the Mississippi River, joining others in the St. Louis community on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day of service, etc. Every year about 25% of the student body voluntarily participates in at least one of these weekend adventures, and many students participate in several. Each activity introduces our students to persons quite different from themselves and to an organization where a teenager can be a volunteer.

On campus, two collection drives are sponsored by the committee each year: the Holiday Food Drive, to collect nonperishable goods for a local food pantry, and the Danna Drive, which is held in the fall and focuses on the needs of a particular charitable agency chosen by the student leaders. Another on-campus event is Empty Bowls, for which students create ceramic bowls which are offered along with a simple meal at our Empty Bowls dinner to increase awareness about hunger in our area and to raise money for a local agency that serves meals to those in need. Montgomery Plan volunteers also take part in the area-wide Old Newsboys Day event to raise funds for local organizations that support at-risk children.

A day of service is also connected to the Danna Drive. Club members visit agencies which welcome teenage volunteers, such as Youth Emergency Service, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, and Food Outreach (AIDS). In past years, students visited the International Institute of St. Louis and delivered the books they had collected or spent a morning at Youth in Need helping with cleaning, organizing, etc. In 2016, a group delivered collected supplies to the SouthSide Early Childhood Center, helped them prepare for an upcoming fundraising event, and did some deep cleaning in the classrooms.

Because our community service program is voluntary, participation by a student will depend on his/her own initiative and interests, as well as the time he/she has available. The faculty sponsor serves as a resource for ideas and information about agencies in the St. Louis area that need teenage volunteers and where students might be allowed to volunteer on weekends or evenings and/or during school breaks.