Bringing the Love of Volunteering to Underserved Communities
Disadvantaged students have a difficult time finding ways to volunteer to make a change in their communities; we aim to fix this issue.
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832-348-6506 12222 Laguna Terrace Dr. Houston, Texas 77041
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Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
At our school, over 72% of the students fall under the economic poverty line. This means that transportation and time are a scarcity, thus reducing the ability for students to make a change in their community. Research has shown that by helping out in the community increases the wellbeing of people and helps form meaningful bonds. If we, as students, are unable to create change, we will miss out on the opportunities to reap these benefits.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Because a lot of students at our school aren't able to afford costly gas needed to go far away volunteering centers, we have aimed to bring volunteering opportunities directly to students. These have included in the past: food drive/bag creation during the holidays, recycling over a ton of paper every week, and greeting cards for elderly and disabled in nursing homes. Furthermore, for most of our community impact events, we provide students with buses to all of our events to help reduce the cost of transportation to students.
Being a school with over 90% of the students classified as a minority, leadership opportunities have always been scarce. Through our projects, we have created and empowered many student leaders to become changemakers at the local level.
Now is the time to expand this project and take it to one that can impact the global level. We want to take our student leadership, passion, and desire to make a difference, and turn it into a platform for volunteering that helps connect folks to opportunities local to them. The goal is a frictionless set up for groups to replicate what we are doing on a larger level.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
Not be motivated to make a difference is almost impossible in an environment so ripe for change and transformation. When I was a freshman in high school, volunteering served as a way to destress, make new friendships, and learn more about my local surroundings. Being together with a group of people that had a shared goal helped me realize how fundamental programs like this are to society for the development of people. From that day onwards, I became motivated to learn more and do more for my community. As I joined the leadership committee, that was helping others find the joy in volunteering, it became apparent that opportunities for helping others were scarce in underprivileged groups and areas. With this project, we want to eliminate this issue and change the future of volunteering for all.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
When student volunteers get involved with our project, one of the first things we do is share the historical impact our group has made, and what they can contribute to. By giving a clear narrative on what the goal is, it becomes easier for everyone to get involved with the cause and motivated to help the cause.
When a student volunteer moves on to the leadership role, we work together to formulate a plan on what the training process looks like. Then, we introduce the leaders to technology tools we work with in order to make the volunteering process smooth.
As we expand, we also want to increase our outreach on the technology platform for volunteers we are trying to build. This will be through student developers and other volunteering organizations across the nation. The process for this will be very similar to how software projects are onboarded.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Our technology platform is the true game-changer in this field. Currently, it's only being used internally to our club. However, since it is free and open-source (on GitHub), it can be expanded to be used in any club around the world. Our technology platform has been built from the ground up to help streamline volunteering: volunteer signup, cancellation, information distribution, etc. We are working on the framework to expand this to finding opportunities to make a change in the local community and connecting with other groups to gain insight. We are focused on impact for the underrepresented
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
In the last two years, the group of students empowered by our organization has amassed over 8,000 community service hours. We have contributed to the Harvey supply fund, fight for premature birth research, helped in the Buffalo Bayou cleanup, sent books around the world, and reduced the carbon footprint of our school, significantly.
We have empowered over 20 student leaders, in the last 2 years, to develop their skills in a collaborative environment and grow in terms of leadership experience and natural confidence. Student leaders have had a chance to learn more about technology, increasing preparedness for the future business world.
Students that were previously unable to make a difference in the community because of not being able to find transportation or time to volunteer now have the ability to contribute to their surroundings.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
We now want to spread the joy of volunteering to other high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools all over the world. One way we have attempted to do this is by providing a technology platform for schools to run their volunteering organizations on. It has been made completely open-source and we are working to bring more schools on board to help make the volunteering process more efficient and accessible for all. Our dream is for this platform to become one where students and causes can directly get connected. We want to partner with experienced folks in technology and pair them with underrepresented folks to help build technological skills and develop this volunteering platform further.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin: (5)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
I discovered it through the YSA