Youth Volunteerism

There are lots of ways you can get involved as a youth volunteer.  Find projects via our publications, search or calendar.  Discover what other young people are doing and see if you can find or create a similar project here.  Think about what you enjoy doing and find creative ways to use your skills and interests to help local agencies.  This page is to help you get started - enjoy!

Volunteer Opportunities for Teens

In order to help you find projects welcoming youth volunteers in real-time, we're trying something a little different.

Instead of compiling everything into a publication, we're providing a link to a saved search featuring all of the current opportunities for young people to make a difference. It may look different from what you're used to with the publication, the plus is that it updates whenever an agency lists something new.  We hope you'll find it helpful!

Link to search for current youth-friendly opportunities: 

Get inspired!

Youth Service America
Youth changing the world - the site features countless resources for young people seeking to make a difference, including project ideas, recognition, grants for youth, grants for youth leaders and educators and toolkits for creating and leading projects.
Youth Changing the World: A Service Project Toolkit (pdf)

GenerationOn is the global youth service movement igniting the power of all kids to make their mark on the world. Their mission? To inspire, equip, and mobilize youth to take action that changes the world and themselves through service. There are a LOT of great resources on the site, including project ideas for younger kids and their families, service stories (for inspiration) and many resources and ideas for teens.

Discover projects by other young people that may inspire you to create a project of your own. The Prudential Spirit of Community awards honor middle and high school youth for outstanding service to the community.  Learn about national and state honorees via their website.

Current Volunteer Opportunities


Step 1: Register
To sign up for projects or express interest to get contact information on opportunities, you must first be registered on this site.

Please note: Volunteers must be a least 14 years old to legally register on this website. Volunteers under 14 years of age may still volunteer but a parent/guardian will have to register to sign up or express interest in projects. Parent/guardian may create a team to include children under 14 on their account.

Step 2: Find Volunteer Opportunities
There is one way to filter volunteer opportunities appropriate for youth.

From the Search Opportunities Page

  • Enter all required information in the "Basic Search Box"

  • Be sure under "Additional Filters" you click "Appropriate For"

  • In the "Age of Volunteers" drop-down menu select the appropriate age you want to filter by

  • Select any other filters you wish to search by

  • Click "Refine"

Step 3: Express Interest/Sign Up
Depending upon the type of project you select, you will be given the choice to:

  • Express Interest - the community organization will contact you directly with further information about the opportunity and how to sign up. An automated e-mail will also be sent to you, with contact information for the community organization, so that you can follow up with them if you do not get a response.

  • Sign Up - you will be automatically signed up for that project and will receive a confirmation e-mail containing all of the information you will need.

Youth Recognition Opportunities

Columbia Association scholarships reward teens for community service efforts

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Maggie J. Brown Spirit of Columbia Scholarship Award.

Up to six $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors from local high schools who have shown a history of providing community service to benefit Columbia residents and those in the Columbia area. For more than 25 years, Columbia Association (CA) has been recognizing high school seniors for outstanding service to their community.

The students must live on CA-assessed property, or have a parent/guardian who works full-time on CA-assessed property. Applicants must be graduating in May/June 2015 from an accredited public, private or parochial high school and need to have a minimum of a “C” cumulative grade point average (2.0).

Columbia Association employees, members of Board of Directors or family members of employees or members of the Board of Directors are not eligible to receive the award.

Applications are available online at Completed applications must be submitted by March 15, 2015. For more information, call 410-715-3161 or email

Kids are Heroes

Nominate a young hero to be featured on the Kids Are Heroes website.

Camp Make a Difference 2015

Stay tuned for information on Camp Make a Difference 2015!

This camp for youth in grades 6-9 is a unique combination of recreational and volunteer experiences designed to give every child an opportunity to make new friends, have fun, and feel good about what they’re doing in the summertime. We offer it in partnership with the Columbia Association Camps Department.

Here are photos of our campers making a difference at Days End Horse Farm, Community Action Council of Howard County's Community Garden and Food Bank, Howard County Office on Aging and the Howard County Conservancy.


"Even though I am one person I can make a HUGE impact in a person or thing's life."

"There are many different ways to serve. Volunteering can be fun and makes you feel like you made a difference."

But don't take it from us - listen to what campers said during Camp Make a Difference 2010 in their own words in this excellent video from HoCoMoJo.

Volunteer Opportunities for Families

It can be a challenge to find volunteer opportunities for families, especially with younger children. There are not many local agencies that welcome volunteers under the age of 12 on a regular basis (although certainly there are projects and one-time events that are perfect for volunteer families).

So what can you do?  First, you can approach a local agency (or issue) with the question: "What do you need?" That can give real insights into project ideas for how your family may be able to help. Often, it's easier for an agency to welcome volunteer families or groups that approach them with ready-to-go project ideas that require very few resources from the agency itself.  It could be something as simple as a collection, or as intricate as teaching crafts to local seniors.  

You can also start by brainstorming fun projects and then finding local agencies that may be interested. We've been using The Volunteer Family website as a good place to generate ideas:

Other ideas are available at

Please be patient.
It can be overwhelming, at times, to be approached by families seeking opportunities if an agency is not set-up to welcome families. Understand that some may be reluctant to welcome younger volunteers because they don't feel that they have age-appropriate options for them on-site. That's where being creative comes in, and possibly considering ways to give back without traveling to the actual agency itself.  

And thank you. Your interest in making a different and including younger volunteers is appreciated.