Students in Service

Volunteering or community service done by students of any age under the auspices of their school or university in some way.

The Perfect Volunteer Storm, Susan J. Ellis
Preparing Your Organization, Susan J. Ellis, Anne Weisbord, and Katherine H. Noyes, Children as Volunteers, pp. 25-6, Energize Inc.
Why Young People Should Be Decision Makers, Jenny Sazama and Karen S. Young, pp. 4-6, Youth on Board
Youth Can Change the World, Mosaic Youth Center with Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner, pp. 7-10, Search Institute
By Youth Service America, showing how to "develop and implement a high-impact, strategic plan of action to engage young people in serving and learning in their communities." , 2013, pp. 74

Produced the the US Peace Corps to help members develop service-learning projects in developing countries. (V2 = V2) 

, 2009, pp. 65

By Emily Hoban Kirby, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, and Surbhi Godsay, from CIRCLE/Civic Youth.

, 2011, pp. 23
Campus Compact

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact promotes public and community service that develops students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic and community-based learning into the curriculum. Campus Compact’s membership includes public, private, two- and four-year institutions across the spectrum of higher education. Blog

All about young people (teens and 20-somethings) and social change.


#iwill is a national campaign in the UK that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year-olds as possible by the year 2020. Through collaboration and partnership it is spreading the word about the benefits of youth social action, working to embed it in the journey of young people and creating fresh opportunities for the participation. Is also supported by Student Volunteering Week.

Learning to Give

"Educates youth about philanthropy, the civil society sector, and the importance of giving their time, talent and treasure for the common good." Provides a whole range of lesson plans and teaching ideas for all age groups. 

National Association of Youth Courts

Publish resources for youth and teen courts, help organizations start new youth courts, and provide training for youth and adult volunteers.

National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE)

A nonprofit membership association of educators, businesses, and community leaders. Founded in 1971, NSEE also serves as a national resource center for the development and improvement of experiential education programs nationwide.

Net Impact

"Net Impact is a community of more than 50,000 student and professional leaders creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world."


SALTO Training Toolbox

Large number of group training exercises on all aspects of diversity and youth action from Support, Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities within the European YOUTH programme.

Youth in Philanthropy - Association of Fundraising Professionals

This section of AFP’s website is devoted to efforts to encourage young people to become actively involved in philanthropy and fundraising.  

Youth Service America Blog

Youth Service America shares current news, information, and grant opportunities from the service-learning and youth service fields, including stories of youth successful in helping their communities.

Youth Service America Resources

Long list of free, downloadable guides for students and teachers on all aspects of creating the best service-learning projects and curricula.

Video of a 2014 TEDxUOttawa talk (11 minutes) by Tuan Nguyen, a young Canadian philanthropist and entrepreneur. Surviving death during his escape after the fall of Viet Nam in 1975, he sees the world from a lens of gratitude and has been the foundation for all his hopes, dreams, and vision. His stories demonstrates how volunteerism (mainly fundraising events) is the best platform for professional and personal development. 

Space Planning to Support Volunteers
From Susan J. Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.

If work space is at a premium for employees, don't be surprised if there's a problem accommodating volunteers, too. Saying "we welcome volunteers" is contradicted if the person has to hunt around for a work surface and chair or beg for someplace to store materials in-between shifts. Assess available furniture and equipment in terms of the impact of more people (volunteers) coming into the facility at various hours. Help staff in each unit to think through where volunteers can sit at a clear surface and what office equipment they can use. Where can messages be left for the volunteer? Other volunteer work space needs include:

  • Secure storage space for volunteers' coats and other personal belongings (and uniforms, if applicable)
  • Places for volunteers to store work undisturbed from one shift to the next
  • Volunteers who work one-on-one with members of the public or clients may also need private talking areas
  • Group work space for meetings, training sessions, or special projects

Get Creative
It is common to budget for things like a new desk or extra telephone for each new employee hired. Yet it is far from common to routinely add such basic work tools for volunteers, generally under the assumption that very part-time workers have fewer needs. Not necessarily. Placing a few extra desks in various offices might prove useful for employees visiting from other sites or occasional consultants, as well as for volunteers working a few hours at a time. Keep the desks stocked with basic supplies, as well as with instruction sheets for using the phone system or the copying machine, and they will be a welcoming "home base" to assist volunteer productivity.Having unassigned work stations available is also a way to give volunteers who usually work off-site, independently in the field, or online a place to sit if they come on site once in a while. This is the nonprofit equivalent of corporate "hotelling" or "hot desking" practices, providing unassigned seating in an office environment for a mobile workforce.

Sharing Staff Space
If your organization has a cafeteria or lunchroom, a staff lounge, or even a coffee area, it will be necessary to establish policies on whether and how such space will be shared between employees and volunteers. Do not leave this to chance. Without clear guidelines, you run the risk of inadvertent and uncomfortable confrontation. Keep in mind that you may have many more volunteers than employees on site at some times, and that some volunteers will be teenagers or seniors or others unlike the paid staff. Determine the answers to these questions - and think through the implications and alternatives of each decision:

  • Are all volunteers to have full access to all public and private space in the building (except for personal offices)? If not all volunteers, which ones? As determined by whom?
  • If food or beverages are available, does everyone pay the same for them? If not, what are the criteria for paying more or less?
  • Is there some reason why employees might want occasional privacy? Why? Where? Under what circumstances? How will this be explained to volunteers consistently? (Now ask the same questions for volunteers.)
  • Should there be different rules for those volunteers who give many hours on a consistent basis to the organization (versus those who come in once a quarter)?

These kinds of details make work go smoothly for everyone and integrate volunteers into the organizational environment in a welcoming way.

Why Student "Interns" Are Indeed Volunteers
From Susan J. Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.

It is a recurring debate in our field whether or not students who receive academic credit for performing an unpaid curriculum-based internship should be considered "volunteers." I contend that they most certainly are, and that it matters a lot for such students to be under the administration of the volunteer resources office. Here's why:

Academic credit cannot be negotiated at the store for a loaf of bread. Just as other volunteers, student interns do not go on your payroll; they may benefit greatly from their service, but not financially. Further, many student interns contribute far more hours to the agency than the minimum required by the school. Is this extra time not "volunteering" in its purest sense?

Sometimes the argument is that student interns require pre-professional roles not often assigned to other volunteers. Maybe it is time to reassess all volunteer assignments, not just those intended for student interns. Creating positions that truly contribute to the organization's services and allow for learning, growth and development is clearly in the best interest of everyone - and will attract a higher caliber of adult volunteer, too.

It takes skill to design good internship assignments, to which too many students left with little to do for a semester can attest. The basic considerations mirror good volunteer work design and it is the volunteer resources manager who can assist in crafting tasks or projects that can be:

  • accomplished within various, limited schedules;
  • handled by someone inexperienced (even if knowledgeable);
  • supervised by a staff member without being a burden; and
  • passed on to successors with minimal interruption.

Once student-focused work has been identified, the volunteer resources office can maintain the list of all internship position vacancies throughout the organization, recruit applicants, and do initial screening and matching. By centralizing internship applications, many staff members will save time by not having to contact various colleges individually and you make sure that all students are told of every available opening. Individual staff supervisors are only aware of what is available in their one particular unit and cannot offer the prospective intern the full range of assignment options. The staff supervisor makes the final decision on acceptance of the intern, just as with any volunteer candidate referred to a unit. But, if a student is not right for one unit, only the volunteer resources manager has the overview necessary to see if there is another possible placement that would be more appropriate.

Every newcomer to the agency deserves an orientation and the volunteer resources office is already set up to provide this. If interns by-pass the volunteer resources office and go directly to a line supervisor, they will not get an overview of the entire organization. Training for the specific task to be done will then be given to the intern by the supervisor (the member of the profession involved), as is appropriate.

There is also a public relations argument for centralizing the coordination of internships in the volunteer resources office. This sort of process allows faculty from all schools to make one contact a semester, referring all the student internship candidates at one time. Similarly, requests for end-of-placement evaluations can be also channeled (one call for the school) to the volunteer resources manager, who can then monitor whether all forms have been submitted as required. Copies of such evaluations can then be kept in the volunteer office with the student intern's other records, so that future references can easily be provided.

If volunteer resources is not in charge of student interns administratively, where will records be kept on student interns? Is anyone keeping such records at all now? Who monitors how much staff time is being spent on interns, how many students have been placed, or what the performance level of interns has been? If for no other reason, it may be necessary to document the work of interns to meet insurance requirements, since, as with all volunteers, there are accident and liability considerations for interns.

Transitioning from an Internship
Student interns separated from agency volunteers rarely receive formal recognition of their accomplishments during their internships. Completing required school evaluations is important feedback, but not necessarily a thank you for work contributed. Only the volunteer resources office can represent the entire agency in expressing the appreciation most students have earned.

It is common for a percentage of students to want to remain active with the agency after the official end of their internships. Are they then expected to "transfer" to the volunteer resources office - or will they remain undocumented (and, essentially, unauthorized) in an unclassified state? In one workshop I taught, a participant admitted that she knew of at least three students who had kept right on with their work for over a year after their school ties had ended, but no one reported it until she asked why the young people were still around. Some of their co-workers in the unit were not even aware that the official internships had ended. Parenthetically, is this the best way to help students with their education? Maybe these students were ready to move on to more challenging assignments in another part of the organization, but no one was responsible for making this offer to them.

As so often happens, there is a ripple effect to doing the right thing for student interns. Not only do students get a more meaningful work experience with greater benefits to the agency, but all volunteer involvement is strengthened. Internships may appeal to a wider audience than simply students, staff raises their expectations of unpaid help, and all volunteer assignments are fully integrated into the organization.