UCSC builds relationships with the most impactful nonprofit organizations in Chicago and creates opportunities for students to contribute their time and energy to local communities by volunteering.
ANNUAL SERVICE EVENTS
Engage Chicago orientation event for incoming students provides an introduction to the city of Chicago and principles of effective community partnering, as well as a direct community service experience.
Annual days of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Earth Day connect students to community-based organizations serving the South Side
COMMUNITY SERVICE RECOGNIZED STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS (CSRSOS)
Students can support a variety of social causes and communities in Chicago as volunteers and members across a network of 40+ CSRSOs — student-led groups which partner with community leaders and organizations to support a variety of social causes in Chicago. UCSC staff advise RSO leaders and otherwise support the CSRSO network through project promotion and support, participant training, and partnership assistance.
Short and Long-Term Civic Engagement Opportunities
Eager to get involved? Check out the below opportunities — and keep checking back as we add new ones! You can also subscribe to the UCSC's Weekly Newsletter, where we share about other opportunities to engage on and off campus. For more volunteer opportunities or to be otherwise connected with local schools, youth-serving programs, or neighborhood organizations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Augustana, there is room for those who are exploring church or aren’t sure what they think about organized religion, as well as for life-long Lutherans. There are various ways and levels of involvement and all are invited. For those who enjoy rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty, Augustana is always looking for folks to help with its beautiful outdoor and indoor spaces, including maintenance and gardening.
Volunteers needed for: Various projects
Chicago Hyde Park Village (CHPV) helps its members remain in their homes and engaged in the community as they grow older, through education, volunteerism, and referrals. CHPV relies on volunteers, both members and non-members, to connect people with energy, creativity, knowledge, and determination with those who need them.
Volunteers are needed for: sharing ideas for programs, social activities, services; helping plan events, establish an interest group, and welcome new members; offering expertise to committees, e.g. technology, newsletter writer, or publicity; helping staff with data entry and filing; preparing mailings; making calls to remind members of upcoming events; accompanying a member to a doctor’s appointment, social event, or errand; visiting a member to chat, take a walk, share a book; running errands for a member who finds it difficult to be out and about. Students can also volunteer with CHPV through the Tech Savvy Friends RSO.
Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) endeavors to serve the comprehensive needs of each youth with an asset-based approach that intends to mitigate risks while building strengths. How do we do it? By making a long-term investment for a long-term impact. This investment begins as early as birth and lasts until age 25, when we expect our young adults to have successfully completed their post-secondary plans and be well on their way to establishing a life sustaining career.
Student Volunteers can connect with CYP through the Friends of Washington Park Youth Program RSO.
Coppin Community Center is a social-service nonprofit at Coppin Memorial AME Church in the Washington Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Its vision is a healthy, safe, empowered community. Its mission is to develop youth, support adults and transform the quality of life for all people. It runs food and meal programs, and hosts youth and family programs such as the Boys & Girls Club.
Volunteers are needed for: Boys & Girls Club, Coppin Food Pantry, Coppin Closet.
Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. They supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities.
Volunteers are needed for: administration, and sorting items.
The Experimental Station was founded in 2002 by Dan Peterman and Connie Spreen upon a long history of socially, artistically, and environmentally significant projects that, over 30 years, had operated quietly but successfully at 6100 S. Blackstone Avenue.
Volunteers are needed for: administration, the Farmers Market, and various community efforts.
Founder Gary Comer grew up in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. In 1998, Gary visited his grammar school, Paul Revere Elementary, and found that the school and its surrounding neighborhood faced many challenges. Gary had a desire to help and began by donating funds for facility and teaching improvements. Gary’s commitment grew, creating additional partnerships that led to the creation of the Gary Comer Youth Center. The youth center opened in 2006 with the vision of providing an inspiring space for young people to learn, grow and succeed. Strengthening ties with others dedicated to equity in this underserved area of the city, Comer seeded deeper, ongoing investments in youth opportunity and community prosperity. Gary's initial investment and vision laid the foundation for the Comer Education Campus. As the Campus grows, their initiatives continue to evolve to meet the needs of our young people and our community.
Volunteers are needed for: campus gardens, training skills/clinics, tutoring.
Grow Greater Englewood is a 501(c)(3) social enterprise that works with residents and developers to create sustainable local food economies, green businesses, and land sovereignty to empower residents to create wellness and wealth.
Volunteers needed for: community engagement, gardening seminars training, weeding
Hyde Park Neighborhood Club was founded in 1909 in response to the needs of local youth. Recognizing the challenges and dangers children faced in an early twentieth-century urban neighborhood, community leaders banded together to create a safe place for boys (and soon after, girls) to participate in educational and recreational activities. With a focus on inclusion, equity, and diversity, HPNC supports working families at all income levels with high-quality childcare and enrichment programs. HPNC draws young people ages 0 – 18 from across the South Side.
Volunteers are needed for: assembling and helping pass out take-home art kits for 0- to 4-year-olds; planning enrichment activities for out-of-school days for Learning Hub students; helping keep outdoor spaces beautiful and healthy on the Garden Committee; helping with large projects like mailings and filing; supporting HNPC signature events like the Annual Gala and Pancake Breakfast.
The Hyde Park Refugee Project (HPRP) consists of Hyde Park residents and other volunteers from Chicago’s South Side working together to resettle refugee families locally and helping to transition them to self-sufficiency.
Volunteers are needed for: work with families; mentoring; in-home tutoring; at-school tutoring; childcare; special issues mentoring; and interpreting.
The Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) is the body that monitors the park, represents the community and advises the Chicago Park District. JPAC holds the district accountable for stewardship and preserves the park’s historic character and special natural areas. JPAC also represents all park users and communities while seeking to reach the park’s highest potential.
Volunteers are needed for: participation in a wide variety of activities throughout the park including maintaining designated areas of Jackson Park to ensure the park’s continued cleanliness and beauty; maintaining and expanding the park’s features and amenities; working on designated days to address specific issues in an area of the park; and overseeing the organization and chairing committees.
Since the start of our award-winning, nationally-recognized Food Justice and Sustainability Program in 2009, we have addressed basic human needs and rights—access to nourishing, wholesome food, clean air and water, healthy soil—through urban farming. We have transformed the synagogue's lawns and others around the neighborhood into food producing micro-farms, growing fruits and vegetables and distributing the harvests to those in need—over 30,000 pounds to date. In addition to this ongoing work, we constructed food forests in marginalized and unproductive urban areas through fruit and nut tree planting. Just as with the micro-farms, the idea is to transform unproductive spaces into productive ones. The new focus is to establish ever more sustainable and secure sources of food.
Volunteers Needed For: Various Food Sustainability Projects
Ladies of Virtue works to instill purpose, passion, and perseverance in girls, ages 9 to 18, while preparing them for college, careers, and to become change agents in their communities. Ladies of Virtue matches participants with mentors and prepares them for leadership through a culturally relevant character-building, career readiness, and civic engagement curriculum.
Volunteers are needed for: serving as Saturday Institute and in-school program mentors; hosting job shadowing events; mentoring LOV alumni; helping prepare LOV girls for life after high school; and serving on the marketing, fundraising, or membership and engagement committees.
Augustana Lutheran Church at 55th and Woodlawn started hosting a Love Fridge food-sharing collective after a group of University-affiliated parents and staff worked with community partners to build on food insecurity support offered during the University Community Service Center’s Martin Luther King Week of Service in 2021. The refrigerator provides food to community members facing food insecurity and a chance for others to donate food to neighbors. Food is available for anyone to pick up as needed, without cost or registration. This effort launched as food security has emerged as a major challenge brought about and worsened by the pandemic. The Love Fridge at Augustana is the closest location to UChicago’s campus but there are locations across the city.
Volunteers are needed for: stocking the fridge with staples like vegetables, rice, and rice or treats like ice cream; checking on the fridge’s temperature and freezer function; organizing food by expiration date; sanitizing the fridge; cleaning up spills; and distributing food. Each fridge has an AM and PM fridge manager sign-up slot here and donation guidelines can be found here.
Montgomery Place is a retirement community in the Hyde Park community.
Volunteers are needed for: creating cards for seniors experiencing isolation in South Shore. Cards can be mailed to: Montgomery Place, Attn: Marisol Fernandez, 5550 S. Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60637 or staff will collect them in a socially-distant manner at the Montgomery Place front desk.
My Block, My Hood, My City works to start the conversations that cultivate a deeper connection to communities and the people within them in order to ensure everyone has what they need to succeed. My Block, My Hood, My City works to empower neighbors with knowledge and inspire them with opportunity so they can take positive action with confidence, creating a new world of possibilities for themselves and their families—and ultimately, the block, the hood, and the city, too.
Volunteers are needed for: multiple volunteer events per month through their Community Development Initiatives. Opportunities to support Chicago communities include cleaning alleys, mowing lawns, shoveling for seniors, and more.
We envision a paradigm shift in production, consumption and waste driven at the local level, generating equity and economic opportunity for all residents. At the facility scale, a circular economy can be described as conventional waste streams from one process being re-purposed as inputs for another, creating a circular, closed-loop model of material reuse.
Volunteers needed for: community events, farming
Symphony of South Shore provides nursing, rehabilitation care, and other specialty services in the South Shore community.
Volunteers are needed for: creating cards for seniors experiencing isolation in South Shore. Cards can be mailed to: Symphony of South Shore, Attn: Wendy, 2425 E. 71st Street, Chicago, IL 60649 or staff will collect them in a socially-distant manner at Symphony’s front desk.
100 Black Men of Chicago works to improve the quality of life and enhance the educational opportunities of African-American males throughout the Greater Chicago area by pairing them with successful African-American professionals committed to the intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the African-American community.
Volunteers (both men and women) are needed for: specific events such as college fairs, toy drive parties, health and wellness fairs, etc. Additionally, 100 Black Men of Chicago has a special need for men to engage with mentoring initiatives.