A lot! For starters, you make our free programs possible. We have a variety of programs in which you, as a volunteer, can participate. Volunteers have the opportunity to to publish students’ books at morning field trips, assist with our yearly Young Authors’ Book Project, and tutor students after school or in the evenings. You also have the opportunity to help students with writing projects in public schools around Los Angeles (including personal statements), as well as teach creative writing workshops or work with aspiring young journalists in our writing lab.
Do I need to have experience working with kids? Or experience with writing?
Nope! 826LA volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. As long as you have a willingness to learn and explore alongside our students, you’ll be fine. We can also pair you up with a seasoned volunteer the first few times you come. And don’t worry, we’re here to support you every step of the way.
I really want to be involved, but I have a hectic schedule. Do you need a time commitment?
We don’t insist that you commit to a certain number of volunteer hours. We realize getting to our centers or to the schools we serve is not always easy. That said, we certainly want to encourage you to give us as much time as you can. We know that the free programs we offer are most effective and have the most impact on the lives of students when we are consistent. Students need to trust volunteers, and that takes time and effort. In the end, what really helps the young people we serve is one-on-one attention from volunteers, and the more you can provide, the more they (and you) get. When you’re starting out, see if you can carve out time to volunteer for one session a week!
Wait. Does 826LA have three locations? Did I just make that up?
You’re not making things up—at least not right at this moment. We do in fact have three locations, one in Mar Vista and one in Echo Park, and a Writers’ Room at Manual Arts High School in South LA. (To learn more about volunteering at our Writers’ Room at Manual Arts, email T Sarmina at tsarmina@826LA.org.) Our Echo Park and Mar Vista locations offer the same free programs to students on a daily basis. To find out more, just check out our program overview page.
How do I find out when and where the next Volunteering 101 takes place?
Check out our handy-dandy calendar for our Volunteering 101s, which generally take place on either Fridays (from 5-7 PM) or Saturdays (from 12-2 PM). Once you pick a date, please sign up for an upcoming orientation here.
Regardless of whether you attend a Volunteering 101 session at Mar Vista or Echo Park, you can volunteer at both sites or stick to one.
What are all the things I need to do in order to become a volunteer?
First, you’ll need to RSVP for a Volunteering 101 orientation. Once you do that, you’ll receive a link to our online volunteer application, as well as information about our Live Scan process. That’s it! Once you attend a Volunteering 101 and your Live Scan comes back clear, we’ll send you a “Welcome” email with a link to our online Projects Calendar, and you can start signing up to volunteer!
Isn’t tutoring students pretty self-explanatory? Is attending a Volunteering 101 session really necessary?
Believe us, many tutoring methods exist. We’re all about consistency at 826LA, and we want all our volunteers to be on the same page. In addition to providing you with tutoring tips, Volunteering 101 is also the time when you’ll be filling out important paperwork that we need.
Do I really need a background check done? I’ve never committed crimes, I promise! I just want to start right away!
Thanks for wanting to volunteer and being so eager to do so! We definitely want you on board as soon as possible, but we do really need a background check from you. To learn more about becoming a volunteer and our Live Scan background check process, just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
I’ve already had a Live Scan done for a different organization. Can I just submit that to you instead of getting another one done?
Unfortunately, we are not allowed to accept (or share) Live Scan results from other agencies or organizations, otherwise we will lose our license. You’ll need to have another Live Scan processed for 826LA.
I can’t afford to pay for the Live Scan. Does that mean I can’t volunteer here?
Don’t worry! If paying the out-of-pocket cost (generally $15-25) for the Live Scan is a hardship for you, we offer reimbursement. You’ll still need to pay for the Live Scan (since it’s done off-site) and make sure to save your receipt and ask us for the reimbursement form. Once your Live Scan comes back as clear, you’ll need to volunteer for one project, and then we’ll process your reimbursement check. For questions about reimbursement, email Mariesa (mariesa@826LA.org).
Whoa. 826LA has a lot of programs going on. How can I keep up to date?
Great question! As soon as you’re an official 826LA volunteer, we will add you to our volunteer-only email list. Once a week, we send out a Volunteer Newsletter that lists our highest-need upcoming projects, and has other special and important announcements. We also send out program-specific emails as needed.
Once you’re officially a volunteer, you’ll receive access to our volunteer-only projects calendar. Please check the calendar as often as you like and sign up for projects online. When you sign up for the project, you’ll receive a reminder email about the project the day before. Isn’t that convenient? And easy?
I am required to complete community service hours as part of a sentence/court order. Can I do this at 826LA?
We want to ensure that our volunteers are working with our students because they want to, not because they have to. Unfortunately, we do not offer credit for court-appointed hours.
I would like to earn community service hours by volunteering at 826LA. Can I do this here?
Possibly. First, volunteers must be at least 16 years old, and high schoolers can only volunteer with After-School Tutoring and our summer camp. More importantly, the volunteer opportunities available at 826LA are very different from those at other organizations. We want to make sure that we’re a good fit for you, and vice versa. Please get in touch with us first about the nature of the community service program at your school; we will not sign off on hours without prior approval from 826LA staff.
So I guess my question is not frequently asked because it’s not here. How can I ask you an infrequently asked question?
Please email us! You can also reach us by calling our Echo Park location at 213.413.3388 or our Mar Vista location at 310.915.0200.