Local high school students have provided more than a million hours of service to the community since the Board of Education approved a service learning graduation requirement in 2003. With students now volunteering at a rate of more than 400,000 hours per year, total service since the 2003 inception has reached 1,170,151 hours. That equates to 48,756 days, or more than 133 years. At the $18.05 national hourly rate of value placed on volunteer service, students in the Long Beach Unified School District have provided the equivalent of $21 million in service to the community. Beginning with the Class of 2007, all students complete 40 hours of service learning, or community service, to fulfill the high school graduation requirement. Service learning allows students to apply what they're learning in class, and it involves dozens of community, business and nonprofit organizations. Aside from giving students a competitive edge as they apply to colleges and universities, service learning also helps to improve students' achievement, thinking skills, character and behavior. It strengthens community organizations and increases support for schools.