How to Find Volunteer Opportunities Near You (Easily!)

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities Near You (Easily!)

Whether you’re a college or high school student, volunteering confers many benefits. And it is not just your community that benefits from your volunteer work. Volunteering helps you connect with others, boost social skills and develop new interests. It can boost your resume and help you with college and grad school applications. It can even boost your chances when applying to scholarships that require you to demonstrate strong community service.

So, if you’re thinking about volunteering, The University Network can help you find a volunteer opportunity here for free, or you can take a look at the organizations below to see if any of them piques your interest.

25 Volunteer Opportunities Near You

Advanced Science Exploratory Program (ASciencePro)

ASciencePro, which aims to make science more approachable for high school students, has volunteer positions for high school and college students as staff members of its online scientific journal. Written for students by students, C&C Editorials provides high school students with the opportunity to write and publish scientific articles under the direct mentorship of research scientists.

Students who qualify can volunteer remotely as a member of the organization’s Science Journaling Team.

If you are “comfortable” with reading and writing scientific articles, as well as with using and editing multimedia platforms like videos, podcasts and presentations, this is the ideal volunteer position for you.

To volunteer, high school students must be in their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school, and college students must be in their second, third or fourth year of college.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross, one of the largest humanitarian organizations that operate worldwide, has a wide array of volunteering opportunities for students. For example, you can help out with the organization’s blood services by hosting a blood drive at your school, recruiting blood donors, assisting at a blood drive, and more. You can volunteer with the organization’s preparedness and health and safety drives, including distributing information about preparedness at school and local events, training to become a community preparedness instructor and delivering presentations in your local community, becoming a certified First Aid and CPR instructor and teaching classes in your community, and more. You can be a part of Disaster Speaks and help out by assembling comfort kits for families who’ve lost their home due to a disaster, joining a local chapter’s Disaster Action Team, offering translation services, and more. You can also volunteer by helping out with the organization’s international causes and other causes, including providing aid and hope to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, making holiday cards for service members and veterans, volunteering at a military or VA hospital, organizing cookie drives, and more. 

The organization has both remote and in-person volunteering opportunities. No matter how you choose to help, you must first sign up and work with your local Red Cross chapter, Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) station, or Blood Region. 

Any high school or college student can volunteer for any of Red Cross’ causes, although you must be at least 16 years old for membership in the Disaster Action Team and for certified First Aid and CPR instructor training.

AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps volunteers “use their compassion, determination, and creativity to help strengthen communities across the country.” Volunteer opportunities come with different time commitments and requirements, so you can choose what works for you. If you have time in the summer, you may want to consider the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program, which requires a commitment of 8-10 weeks during which you will be serving in a community through an existing AmeriCorps VISTA project starting in May and ending no later than early September. Some examples of how you could help include helping to close the gap on summer learning loss, distributing food to struggling children and families, and recruiting, training and coordinating community-based volunteers. While serving in the summer program, you will be given a modest living allowance as well as an end-of-service cash stipend or award that you can use to pay for education expenses.

AmeriCorps has remote and in-person volunteering opportunities in schools and shelters, hospitals and hotlines, as well as civic, nonprofit and faith-based organizations across the country.

Both high school and college students are welcome to volunteer with AmeriCorps.

Best Buddies

Best Buddies relies on volunteers to help build inclusive communities and opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) around the world. You can join the e-Buddies Virtual Community, which “provides opportunities for volunteers with and without IDD to develop one-to-one friendships online and create connections using the power of technology.” You can also join 40,000 walkers across the country to support the Best Buddies programs in your schools, workplaces and communities. You can also support local Best Buddies events by serving as a committee member for events like the Best Buddies Friendship Walk or Champion of the Year, or by joining the local Advisory Board.

You can volunteer for Best Buddies remotely or in person.

Both high school and college students can volunteer with Best Buddies to enhance the lives of people with IDD. 

Connect-In-Place

Connect-In-Place (CIP), which offers free virtual learning programs for middle and high school students, needs student volunteers for various programs. In the fall, CIP is focused on community building and student preparation through a Fall Mentorship Program that will be launched in fall 2022, and on college prep and career development. In the spring, in preparation of summer offerings that include virtual classes, more intern positions and community events, CIP offers an eight-week internship program. And CIP has opportunities for students to be a part of its Ted-Ed Talks program, a 13-week experience in public speaking and skill-building, throughout the year.

Students can volunteer remotely to help CIP address inequities in education.

If you have a passion for education and teaching, and you are committed to supporting students, you may want to consider volunteering for CIP.

You must be at least a college freshman to volunteer.

DoSomething

DoSomething.org, a nonprofit organization focused on young people and social change, allows members to join its volunteer, social change and civic action campaigns to drive impact on causes they care about. You can join any of the 300+ campaigns, such as Disrupt Racism, No to Hate, Uncover the Truth: Advocate, and more.

To receive volunteer credits (and a signed certificate) for your volunteer hours though, you need to participate in designated high-impact volunteer activities. You can choose from one – or all – of the organization’s Strength Through Service actionable opportunities: 5 Cans Challenge, Comeback Clothes, GTFO: Get the Filter Out, Power to the Period, and Tackle Hunger. 

To date, millions of DoSomething members drive impact in every U.S. area code and 131 countries.

DoSomething has in-person and online opportunities.

Both high school and college students can join a campaign to give back to the community.

EnCorps STEM Teachers Program

EnCorps has a STEMx Tutor program that pairs student volunteers with middle school students in low-income communities who need STEM education support. As a STEMx Tutor, volunteers are expected to commit to one-hour virtual tutoring sessions twice a week for two academic semesters. The tutoring sessions are arranged by the tutor with their mentee student’s parent or guardian, so the schedule is flexible. 

Tutoring experience is not necessary. Volunteer tutors who are new to EnCorps’ program begin with a group orientation and an online tutor-training module. 

You also receive mentorship and coaching from EnCorps staff and an experienced teacher, as well as opportunities to learn and network with peers, including Summer Residential Institute in June, Fall Institute in October and Spring Institute in March.

The organization welcomes college juniors, seniors and graduate students in STEM-focused majors as volunteer STEMx Tutors. To qualify, you must have a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.5, currently reside in the United States and be eligible to work in the country.

Fair Opportunity Project

Fair Opportunity Project has a free mentorship program called the Mentor Network, which relies on volunteers to help college-interested high school students who need advice on their college application.

Volunteer mentors meet virtually with their mentees for 2-4 hours each month over a period of 9-12 months. 

To date, students in 315 communities across the world have used the program.

Mentors are college or graduate students from the community, who are trained to advise using all the resources Fair Opportunity Project has to offer.

Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC)

FIMRC relies on a team of more than 3,000 dedicated staff and volunteers worldwide to achieve its mission of “improving access to health care for children in medically underserved communities.”

The organization’s global health programs are available both virtually and in person. These programs give students real-world volunteer and fellowship experiences.

Currently, due to limitations imposed by the pandemic, Project Alajuelita in Costa Rica is the only site available for in-person volunteering. Volunteers are housed through FIMRC’s Homestay Program, whose host families provide three home-cooked meals each day. FIMRC also arranges for transportation.

FIMRC welcomes both high school and college student volunteers.

Globe Aware

Globe Aware, a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit charity, offers short-term volunteer vacations that allow students to volunteer in different communities around the world. Volunteers work side-by-side with locals on sustainable projects that are important to the community, such as installing concrete floors in the homes of single mothers in Guatemala, assembling and distributing wheelchairs for landmine victims in Cambodia, helping preserve the native elephant habitat in Thailand, or painting a mural at a Costa Rican school. Please note due to COVID-19, Globe Aware has primarily been working in Latin America and Africa, but programs in Asian countries like India, Thailand and Nepal are set to reopen this summer.

You don’t need experience or any special skills to volunteer for Globe Aware. 

Both high school and college students can volunteer with Globe Aware. Students under 17 years old can get a 10% discount on the program fee. Additionally, American and Canadian families can deduct the cost of the program and the affiliated airfare from their income for tax purposes. 

Upon completion of your chosen program, Globe Aware will award you a Community Service Certificate certifying that you have completed 40 hours of community service. Volunteering with Globe Aware for about 40 hours per week would also qualify you for the distinguished President’s Volunteer Service Award, which was created to recognize Americans who make service a central part of their life.

Global Volunteers

With Global Volunteers, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, volunteers can engage directly with local people on work projects that deliver essential services to children and families across the country and internationally. To date, the organization has had more than 37,000 volunteers who helped make a difference in the world. 

Global Volunteers organizes 1-3 week in-person volunteer vacation programs in Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and Texas, as well as internationally in China, Cook Islands, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Italy (Sicily), Nepal, Peru, Poland, Portugal, St. Lucia, Tanzania and Vietnam. Work projects include building repair and painting, computer literacy, food production, health and hygiene education, tutoring, and more.

High school and college students can volunteer for these programs. But you must be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers to build homes, communities and hope. You can volunteer in your community with your local Habitat  or choose to travel with Habitat to build in other communities in the United States or other parts of the world. 

High school and college students can also join the Habitat campus chapter in their school, if there is one, and help to set up volunteer opportunities, educate your school and community around issues related to housing and Habitat, fundraise in your local area to support more housing opportunities, and speak with your community officials to prioritize shelter.

Additionally, college students across the country can participate in Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge program, which provides year-round alternative school-break volunteer opportunities. You can choose to volunteer close to school or elsewhere, but you need a group of five students who are at least 18 years old. 

Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States and its family of organizations need volunteers to fight the big fight and end suffering for all animals. You can join the fight against cruelty and neglect and work together to end all forms of animal cruelty by volunteering at a national or local level. Examples of volunteer positions include Humane Policy Volunteer Leader, who are responsible for advancing priority federal, state and local animal protection policies, Animal Sheltering/Direct Care Volunteer, Phone Banking Volunteer, Student Volunteer-Veterinary and Veterinary Technician, and more.

While some positions require you to volunteer in person, many others can be fulfilled from the comfort of your own home. 

The Humane Society welcomes both high school and college students as volunteers.

Idealist

Idealist is a search engine that connects volunteers to thousands of volunteer opportunities posted by Idealist itself or by other nonprofit organizations like DoSomething for free. You can search for volunteer positions by keyword, skills or interest. You can even refine your search by specifying your location or whether you’re interested in remote volunteering only, on-site volunteering only, or both. 

With the depth of the volunteer opportunities available through Idealist, both high school and college students should find something that is perfect for them.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

International Volunteer HQ organizes fully-hosted volunteer abroad programs in more than 50 countries around the world. Volunteers can choose from over 300 projects across Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Middle East. IVHQ also has programs within the United States for those who prefer to stay closer to home. No matter your destination, IVHQ takes care of all the arrangements, including airport pickup and accommodation, and makes it a point to keep program fees affordable so more volunteers can join to make a difference in the world. For example, IVHQ’s Peru – Lima program starts from $180 for one week. IVHQ makes it easy for you to search by destination and the causes you wish to embrace, such as childcare, teaching, medical and health, sea turtle and marine conservation, wildlife and animal care, construction and renovation, environment and conservation, community development, special needs care, sports, women’s empowerment, arts and music, and more.

IVHQ has 17 affordable volunteer abroad programs for high school students who are at least 16 years old, as well as online volunteer opportunities involving marine conservation, creative design, marketing, microfinance, business, social work, NGO support, human rights, sustainable farming, and more.

IVHQ also has gap-year programs for students who want to volunteer abroad or within the United States, as well as remote volunteer opportunities that are impact-driven.

In short, with the breadth of IVHQ programs. both high school and college students should find something that interests them.

Invisible Hands

Invisible Hands relies on student volunteers to organize and deliver essentials to people in need for free. The organization delivers groceries and prescriptions for homebound seniors and also partners with food pantries, mutual aid groups and religious organizations to deliver food to those in need.

You can volunteer remotely or in person in several ways: by making deliveries to neighbors in need: by joining the dispatch team or handling calls at the call center remotely; or by contributing specific skills as in accounting, social media or art, for example.

Currently, delivery services are available throughout New York City, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Invisible Hands welcomes high school and college student volunteers. But you must be at least 14 years old to volunteer.

Jumpstart

For college students who want to teach, learn and inspire, Jumpstart’s College Corps gives you the opportunity to serve children in 14 states and Washington, DC. You will serve as an aid to teachers in preschool classrooms with Jumpstart programs across the country, which will increase the student-to-teacher ratio and enhance student learning. Volunteering for Jumpstart allows you to “work alongside like-minded peers, receive high-quality training in early childhood development and education, and gain invaluable hands-on experience in the classroom, all while giving back to the local community.” 

So whether you are interested in education, looking for a work-study opportunity, or simply love spending time with children, Jumpstart gives you the chance to help prepare at-risk children for kindergarten. And you can potentially earn a Federal Work Study Grant or a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award (depending on where you serve) to help pay for your college education.

Jumpstart has volunteering opportunities during the school year and in the summer, but selections may vary based on location. 

JustServe.org

JustServe is a website that connects volunteers to service opportunities. You can search for volunteer opportunities by city, state or zip code, as well as remote volunteering. To refine your search, you can opt to add skills you have, such as language, editing and music, and select causes that are of particular interest to you, including LGBTQ+, justice and legal, homelessness, women, and more. Once you have found an opportunity that you’d like to volunteer for, the “volunteering for a project” option will walk through the volunteering process.

JustServe makes it easy for high school and college students to give back to their community. You can easily keep track of your hours and projects on your dashboard, along with upcoming projects for which you’ve volunteered. 

Meals on Wheels America

Meals on Wheels America has 2 million volunteers but needs many more to help deliver nutritious meals and perform quick safety checks to homebound seniors across the country. Currently, 9 million seniors struggle with hunger, 15 million live in isolation and 18 million live in or near poverty.

Volunteers are needed to help prepare meals, but volunteering for Meals on America typically involves picking up meals at a central location, delivering them to the homes of several seniors in your area, and returning the delivery packaging items. While you are expected to drive your own car, delivery in urban settings may be possible using mass transit.

Volunteering for Meals on Wheels is flexible so it’s ideal for high school and college students. You can choose a schedule that works for you, whether it’s once a week, once a month or on an as-needed basis.

Points of Light Engage

Engage is Points of Light’s platform for volunteers looking to make a difference. You can find ways to help in your community by searching for remote or in-person (or both) opportunities, ongoing commitment or specific event, skills and interest, and more. 

Since Engage pulls volunteer opportunities from sites around the web, it provides “the most comprehensive database of volunteer opportunities around the world.” So, high school and college students can find volunteer projects that suit their interests and talents.

RenewToday

RenewToday, an organization that drives social impact, needs volunteers for its WeDeliverPeriod (WDP) initiative, which supports menstrual health management around the world and advances the cause of menstrual equity. 

WDP works with students to help them develop campaigns and local chapters and train them as menstrual equity ambassadors in their local contexts. 

Interested students can also host a WDP Care Packaging Day or Donation Drive. To host, simply select a date and site (it could be a friend’s apartment, a local community center or a church that you attend, for example), send out invitations (include friends, colleagues and other community members) and make sure you’re there to host. 

Sierra Club

Sierra Club, an environmental organization with a national reach, has a youth-led chapter – the Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) – that gives students the opportunity to work “for just, sustainable communities and the protection of the environment.” 

The SCC has award-winning grassroots training programs like Climate Justice League, an online semester-based fellowship for high school and college students, and SPROG, a one-week intensive summer program, known for developing environmental leaders. Over the years, SCC participants have gone on to passing clean energy policies at their schools as part of the Campus Climate Challenge, shutting down coal plants as part of the Beyond Coal Campaign, and using their skills to organize locally outside of the Sierra Club.

Volunteering with the SCC is ideal for high school and college students who are interested in organizing for climate, racial and economic justice.

United Way

The United Way has many ways for you to volunteer. You can get involved in the annual United Way’s Day of Action, which occurs on or around June 21 and marshals tens of thousands of people around the world each year to address what’s most important to them. It could be stuffing backpacks with books to encourage reading and improve early literacy, or planting community gardens to foster civic pride and promote affordable, healthy eating, for example. 

You can also volunteer to read with and tutor students or adults. Your commitment could be as little as 30 minutes a week, either in person or online, but it could help in improving reading outcomes and potentially changing a life.

If neither of these options appeal to you, you can easily find other volunteering opportunities listed for your area by just typing in your zip code. To narrow your search, simply search by keyword or filter by skill, category or activity. 

High school and college students can also bring Student United Ways to their campus, if there isn’t one already, and work together to meet your communities’ needs in education, financial stability and health. 

UPchieve

UPchieve is an online platform that connects volunteer tutors with low-income high school students in the United States for free. Since the program is built to be “ultra-flexible,” it is ideal for volunteers who want to help students succeed but may not be able to commit to a fixed schedule. There is no minimum time commitment, and the UPchieve app makes it easy for you to track the hours you volunteer. You can volunteer even if you don’t have formal tutoring experience. UPchieve will “give you all the tools and training you’ll need to succeed, including training courses and subject-specific review materials.” 

All you need to volunteer for UPchieve is an internet connection.

UPchieve welcomes college and high school students as volunteer tutors. But high school students must be at least 13 year old, pass at least one of the certification quizzes, and submit a recommendation from a math or science teacher during the screening process.

Volunteer.gov

At Volunteer.gov, an online portal of the Federal Interagency Team on Volunteerism (FITV), you can find volunteer positions and events that benefit the country’s land base and other resources. It’s a free service that allows those interested in volunteering to connect with federal and state natural and cultural resources agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). You can search for public-sector volunteer opportunities by “opportunity types.” Search for archaeology or weed/invasive species, for example, will return all opportunities for these categories for every single state. To see only opportunities in your state, click it on the map for opportunities specific to that state. You can also search by keyword, partner agency and/or zip code. 

Volunteer.gob also classifies volunteer positions by the difficulty of the activity – from “not difficult” (for example, visitor center representatives) to “average” (for example, garden and landscape volunteer) to “strenuous” (for example, trail crew members).

With such a wide array of programs, high school and college students should find a volunteer activity that suits their interest, schedule and preferred difficulty level. 

Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students

Volunteer Opportunities for College Students

Volunteer Opportunities Online

Volunteer Opportunities if You Like Fundraising

Volunteer Opportunities That You Can Involve Family Members

Volunteer Opportunities That Help Immigrants and Refugees

Create Your Own Volunteer Opportunity With a Club at Your School

There are so many ways high school and college students can give back to their community. And if you can’t find one that appeals to you, you can always create your own volunteer opportunity by starting a club at your school. 

You can also always start a club if you found a volunteer activity that’s so inspiring that you want others at your school to know about it.

And starting a club is easy with TUN’S Community Tools, aptly named Club in a Box, whether you’re in high school or college. TUN’s group features are private, free and designed to build communities so you can create, grow and maintain your clubs. You can share your story, stay in touch with members, create engagement within your club and your high school or college, and more.

To start a club, go to TUN and sign up or log in if you have an existing account. You can then proceed to create a profile description for your group, upload an image, and choose the privacy setting that you’re comfortable with, i.e., making your group public in your community or keeping it private.

Note: Be sure to check your school’s rules and requirements. For example, your high school may require you to have a teacher as an adviser for your club.

Volunteering Tips

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the wide array of volunteer activities, particularly if you’re new to volunteering.  To make the most of your volunteering experience, here are a few tips that you can follow.

Start Small – Volunteer at Home and Get to Know People

Before you venture further afield, consider volunteering at local places near you like the local library, food bank, soup kitchen, nursing home, hospital and athletic clubs. You can volunteer with local initiatives like STEM education, neighborhood cleanup day, and more. You can check out the closest Habitat for Humanity near you and volunteer at the local Habitat ReStore or pitch in with local renovation projects. 

You can also check local government and city boards to see what other volunteering opportunities there are near you. In the summer, for example, there may be opportunities for you to get involved with camps or other recreational programs.

No matter how you choose to help out, volunteering will expand your network and put you in touch with people with shared interests. You will make new friends and strengthen existing relationships. And, if you’re new to the community, volunteering locally will not just expand your network but also educate you about the community resources available to you.

Get Your Friends Involved

Between classes, homework, exams, sports and other activities, high school and college students don’t have much free time. So, why not make volunteering more fun by getting your friends involved in your chosen activity or, better yet, get together and explore how you would all like to give back to your community. Perhaps, by teaming up, you will challenge each other to do more and seek out even more ways to help out. Volunteering together will likely also further cement your bond with each other.

Volunteer for Things You’re Interested in

Since time is limited and the options many, only volunteer for programs that you’re truly interested in. To do that, you must first identify the causes that are most important to you. Whether it’s animal welfare, human rights, LGPTQ+, climate change, or any other issues, you want to be excited and happy about volunteering. 

Once you’re clear on the cause, look for an organization with a program that not only aligns with your values but also realistically works with your schedule. Your volunteering choice should be the perfect fit for you. 

And if you can’t find one that’s perfect for you, you can always create a club at your school with the help of TUN’s Club in a Box and select the privacy setting of your choice.

The University Network