7 Volunteer Organizations for Teens
Use volunteer opportunities to learn new skills, enhance college resume and pursue your passion to help others.
As a high school student, you might be wondering what you can do now to help change the world and better your community. Fortunately, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available for teens which can help you do just that. In addition to finding out more about a topic that you’re passionate about, volunteering also lets you make a positive impact on your community.
Doing volunteer work also adds depth to your resume and may even help you determine the course of study you’d like to follow once you enter college. Today, teens are volunteering in a number of great organizations. Check out what these volunteer opportunities have to offer and which career paths they are best-suited for.
Treat your volunteer position like a real job – show up on time, dress appropriately and act professionally. You’ll make a great impression and your supervisor will be more likely to write you a recommendation letter as a result.
1. Amnesty International
Applicable majors: International Relations, Political Science, Pre-Law
Are you a burgeoning activist? Amnesty International offers excellent volunteer opportunities for students who are truly passionate about human rights. This huge international network focuses on a number of key issues, like women’s rights, marriage equality and the abolishment of the death penalty. Teens can volunteer with Amnesty International as a student activist coordinator, area coordinator or any other number of helpful positions. You’ll learn a lot about organizational skills, activism and government policies from your duties, which could include making calls to potential donors, writing letters to lobby for changes within the government or assisting with the setup for special events or rallies.
2. Habitat for Humanity
Applicable majors: Civil Engineering, Architecture, Construction Management and Technology
If you prefer hands-on experience, Habitat for Humanity is a great place to look for volunteer work. This organization builds homes in order to provide suitable housing for low-income individuals and families. Volunteering here will give you great insight into how large-scale projects are organized and carried out. Plus, you’ll learn real-life home maintenance skills that will come in handy later in life regardless of your career path.
Jeffrey Farrell, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, Newark had this to say about their volunteer opportunities for teens:
“The great thing about Habitat is that you really get in there, create something, develop skills and give back to a family in need. Do not hesitate, find your nearest Habitat and give them a call. Most of all, working at a Habitat site is fun. You'll meet new people and develop skills like putting up drywall or laying down floors.”
3. Reading is Fundamental
Applicable majors: Education, English, Creative Writing
Reading is Fundamental is a national program committed to increasing children’s literacy levels throughout the U.S. In addition to providing books to children, they also coordinate volunteer programs that encourage reading among children. Your duties as a volunteer could vary from conducting reading activities and reading books aloud to kids, to organizing a book event. This is a great choice for those who want to go on to become a teacher or study literature and composition.
4. The Humane Society of the United States
Applicable majors: Pre-Vet, Animal Science, Zoology, Biology
Animal lovers can get a great volunteer experience by working with The Humane Society. This organization works to ensure the proper treatment of animals and find homes for abandoned pets. As a volunteer, you could walk dogs and do cleaning work at a shelter, or even help out at one of The Humane Society’s veterinary clinics. There are also volunteer opportunities for those who want to help organize events, coordinate volunteers or do other behind-the-scenes administrative tasks.
5. American Red Cross
Applicable majors: Pre-Med, Emergency Management, American Government
The American Red Cross is one of the biggest disaster relief organizations in the country. In addition to helping out when a hurricane or tornado devastates a community, the Red Cross also organizes blood drives, provides trainings in CPR and first aid and provides assistance to military families. Teen volunteers can learn a lot about disaster relief and health and safety services by working with this organization.
According to Jim Starr, Vice President of Volunteer Management at American Red Cross, there are plenty of ways teens can volunteer with this organization:
“Red Cross youth volunteers can coordinate blood drives at their school, host fundraisers in their community or get trained to help their neighbors when a disaster strikes.” Starr encourages high school students to take advantage of the opportunity to get involved: “We believe youth have the potential to make a difference in huge ways.”
6. National Park Service
Applicable majors: Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Ecology, Forestry
If you love nature and want to help preserve the environment, consider volunteering with the National Park Service. There are National Parks located all over the U.S. and all of them are looking for eager volunteers. Whether you’re working in the visitor center, helping to educate kids about the environment or monitoring wildlife or plant life in the area, you’ll learn a lot about the environment and nature preservation in one of these volunteer roles.
7. Goodwill Industries International
Applicable majors: Social Work, Counseling, Sociology
Want to help people make a positive change in their life? Volunteering with Goodwill is a great way to make a difference. This organization is dedicated to helping people find work and getting them supplies through donations, assisting people from all backgrounds, including those with disabilities. As a volunteer, you can help sort donations, work with an elderly or disabled individual or do administrative work, giving you an inside look into how these types of social services function and succeed.
If you want even more options or need help finding local volunteer opportunities, check out VolunteerMatch. This website can connect you with area organizations based on your skills and interests. Students can use the advanced search page to filter listings for those that are good for groups or good for teens. There are even some virtual volunteer jobs that can be completed from home.
"Students have a vested interest in improving the world for their own futures - but what's great is how much they want to contribute to improve the lives of others too," said Robert Rosenthal, spokesperson at VolunteerMatch. "We make it as easy as possible to find ways to do just that."
- Treat your volunteer position like a real job – show up on time, dress appropriately and act professionally. You’ll make a great impression and your supervisor will be more likely to write you a recommendation letter as a result.
- Some high school students are required to complete volunteer work as part of a club or as a requirement for graduation. If this applies to you, make sure you have a supervisor document the hours that you’ve completed as a volunteer.
- Remember that you don’t necessarily need to volunteer for an organization that aligns with your desired major – you don’t even need to know what you want to major in yet! The most important thing is to volunteer for an organization that excites and inspires you.