Guest post by Sarah McKinney
Looking for ways to support young people that don’t pose transportation or scheduling hassles? We’ve got you covered. Here are 10 ways to volunteer virtually while using your experience and wisdom to help kids thrive.
- Help aspiring college students through the entire college admissions and financial aid application process. To become a Strive for College volunteer, you simply need to create a profile on Strive’s site, complete a background check ($40) and do a one-hour training before being connected with students interested in your support. Over 90 percent of students with Strive mentors go to a four-year institution, many being the first in their family to attend college, usually with little or no debt. Read Karen’s story.
- Become an online volunteer for the United Nations and use your skills for global good. They have a great online portal that allows you to search for opportunities by area (research, teaching, writing, outreach and advocacy, etc.) and join the more than 12,000 online volunteers that support them each year. Search current opportunities and see if anything sparks your interest — many of the posts listed touch on issues impacting children and youth.
- Provide support via text to young people in crisis by becoming a volunteer with Crisis Text Line. Volunteers commit to 200 total hours, serving a recommended 4 hours/week, and undergo a six-week, 34-hour training program to ensure they feel fully prepared to deal with issues such as self-harm, suicide, depression, bullying, and gender/sexual identity. If you’ve personally overcome mental health challenges in your own life, this virtual volunteer opportunity could be the perfect way to pass it on. Read Rainy’s story.
- E-mentor a high-school student from a low-income community and help close the opportunity gap with iCouldBe. Students select their mentors based on the mentor’s professional experience and what the student is interested in learning more about. The mentors go through a training and then begin supporting their student through iCouldBe’s online platform for one hour per week. The focus can be on academic success strategies, career exploration, and post-secondary educational exploration and planning.
- Volunteer with the American Red Cross remotely in a variety of ways. You can become a digital advocate, following Red Cross on social media, engaging in conversations and helping to spread their messages to your friends, followers and community. You can start an online fundraising campaign or use your communications skills to assist the fundraising team as they research, write and execute grants. You can also work with individuals, groups and companies to recruit blood donors and promote blood drives. Learn more here.
- Fight childhood hunger with Feed the Children by becoming a policy advocate, using your voice to ensure policy makers hear what’s needed to defeat hunger. Stay informed on key legislative issues and get the tools you need to effectively contact your legislators here. And if you have a unique way you’d like to use your experience to be of help, email firstname.lastname@example.org and explain your idea.
- Ease an international student’s transition to America and help them improve their conversational English through weekly mentoring via video chat with Table Wisdom. This St. Louis-based social enterprise has already matched more than 90 mature adults with young people born abroad (recent immigrants and international students) and they’re currently getting ready to make many more matches beginning in the fall of 2018. It’s a great opportunity to learn about a different culture and make a new friend. Read Rey’s story.
- Answer phones for a suicide prevention hotline by contacting your local crisis center (scroll down to search by zip code) or learn more about how you can help someone in your life who might be in crisis by using these #BeThe1To5 action steps. You can also spread awareness of mental health issues every September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month, and encourage those in your community to donate to mental health causes.
- Generate additional income as an online tutor with Tutor.com. If you have a background as a teacher, professor, adjunct, PhD student, or industry professional and want to use your areas of expertise to help students learn, this could be the perfect opportunity for you. Every tutor is vetted through a rigorous screening process with subject exams, mock tutoring sessions, mentor review and third-party background check. Students range from kindergarten through college to adult learners.
- Provide positive encouragement to children and support their natural curiosity by joining the Granny Cloud, an online learning environment that helps children living below the poverty line in India to learn basic English and make the most of their access to the internet. While based on the ‘grandmother approach’ to emphasizes the warm, encouraging nature of the interaction, men are also welcome to join and “The Grannies” include volunteers from all walks of life. Many have retired and are passionate about working with children.
Powered by Encore.org, Gen2Gen is a national campaign to mobilize older adults for kids who need champions. Like Gen2Gen on Facebook and join a community of people who believe in the power of intergenerational relationships.
Author Bio: Sarah McKinney is a writer with Encore.org‘s Generation to Generation campaign, mobilizing adults 50+ to help kids thrive.