Community Service

School required & court ordered

Although your volunteering with us may be required, your help will be appreciated!

Please clear your volunteering with us before you start. Otherwise, we may not be able to certify it. We also want to make sure that your efforts are of real value to Hearts and Minds.

Please also make sure our hours and other conditions are convenient for you: more info on volunteering with us. If not, we may be able to help you find volunteering elsewhere. Just ask.


We reserve the right not to accept or to discontinue working with any volunteer. If you discontinue with us, we still certify whatever hours you completed in good faith.

Additional conditions apply to our acceptance of some volunteers as described below.

Volunteering outside our office

We often accept work done outside our NYC office, when approved in advance by us, if what is accomplished matches the hours you report. We need you to report this periodically, so we can make sure we’re on target. Not all of our activities can be done from outside our office. If in doubt, just ask!

We recommend that you confirm remote volunteering is acceptable in your program.

ID and timesheets

We need to see the original and keep a copy of a government issued photo ID such as a passport or driver’s license, proof of current address and phone number.

We provide an online app to keep track of required hours and will cooperate with any reasonable paperwork required.


We are happy to cooperate with schools. We cannot issue official course credits for what you do here, but your school may. Please check with them.

We do not charge any fees for accepting school-required community service.


In many cases, you can fulfill this with us. We appreciate your considering volunteering here.


We need to know in advance if your volunteering is court related. Please note: We add to all other hours-confirmation letters, “This cannot be used for court-related community service.”

In most cases, we cannot work with those accused or convicted of violent crimes, threats of violence, sexual offenses or threats, illegal weapons possession, possession of large quantities of illegal substances, most felonies, or any theft.

We require court related community service volunteers to sign an affirmation that they have not been charged in the last 10 years and were never convicted for any of those crimes.

When we write letters to certify hours, we may add a summary of the charges and accusations that you informed us. We may also include a statement that not fully informing us can be considered a violation of trust.

We understand rules like these create difficulties for some individuals, but our office is in a building used by a wide range of people. 

If you have difficulty finding a place to do community service, please ask the court for additional ways you can find a placement. On request, we will also try to help you find another place to volunteer.

We may certify that some of your hours were outside office. In that case, we reserve the right to include this fact in our letter. We only certify hours that reflect work we approve in advance, and when we decide the time matches tangible accomplishments.

If you make false statements or are caught doing anything harmful here, we may report this to the authorities who deal with your case.

If anything is unclear or you’re unsure whether we may accept your volunteering, you can call and speak confidentially, directly with our president, Bill Blackman, at 1-212-280-0333.

Fees and donations

All court fees, fines and administration charges are your responsibility. Due to our limited budget, we do not pay transportation expenses.

Court-related volunteers are usually required to make a donation of at least $100* by the start of their second day volunteering with us. If you are required to do (or end up doing) less than 100 hours, that donation should total at least $200*. If you end up doing more than 100 hours, the extra amount can be returned. No hours will be certified without this payment.

Your donation may be tax deductible. That can be confirmed by your accountant or lawyer.

There are no other fees from us.

*Except as described above, donations are non-refundable. Your court charges do not count towards what we just described, but our amounts may be lowered for those who can show that they have a low income. Please request this privately with us before you start volunteering.


Before you begin court-related community service here, we need to see the original and keep a copy of official document(s) that clearly explain the reason for your service, specifying what the original charge was and the court’s decision, if any.

We need a full summary of the charges in writing. If there was a motion to dismiss charges or a plea bargain, we need to know all the original charges, as well. Additional info may be required. Your information is confidential.

If court documents do not clearly explain the alleged offense, we may ask for your permission to call the authorities or require you to get a letter from your lawyer. We may accept an email for this purpose, but even an email must include the lawyer and/or authority’s full name, title, their affiliation and publicly listed phone number and address. This email should be sent directly to our president, Bill Blackman, whose email can be provided for this purpose.

Thank you for your interest in helping our public service work!

Share This