online learning
Back-to-School Needs
New Ways of Learning,
New Ways of Volunteering
School is back in session and so are opportunities to help local students make the most of their learning experiences. But just as school looks different for most students this fall, there are changes in how volunteers are serving as tutors, homework helpers, and mentors due to the pandemic. Some programs have moved to a virtual space, others have implemented in-person health precautions, and others still are slowly coming on line as sponsoring organizations redesign how they meet students' needs.

In all cases, if you want to help, get started by searching the Volunteer Center's database using the Education/Mentoring interest filter to find these types of activities in general, or search for keywords like "tutor" or "mentor" for narrower results. With either type of search, you can add more filters, including the virtual opportunity filter, to further refine your search. 

Among the current opportunities you'll find are these:

  • The Latino Student Fund seeks virtual math and reading tutors to work with pre-K to 12th grade students via Zoom videoconferencing. Volunteers must commit to serving regular weekly shifts sometime between 3 and 6 pm on Tuesdays through Thursdays and/or between 9 am and 12 noon on Saturdays. Minimum age: 16. Program will be virtual until at least December. Email Clara Lincoln or call 202-244-3438.

  • Individuals age 30 and up who are good listeners, nonjudgmental, and have a positive attitude are needed as mentors for first-generation college students (as well as those attending vocational training or working full-time). Currently operated remotely, this program is sponsored by Future Link, which provides training and support for volunteer mentors. Email Mindi Jacobson or call 240-393-9443.

  • KID Museum is now accepting applications for high school apprentices to help deliver programs focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Volunteers must be between the ages of 14 and 18 and commit to serving as an apprentice for the entire semester. Most activities will be virtual but there will be limited in-person needs. Email Maureen Lexner, or call 301-897-5437.

Many of these opportunities are geared toward adults, but some allow students to help other students. Those that meet the guidelines for MPCS SSL hours feature the graduation cap banner.
More Back-to-School Needs!
Donate School Supplies for Local Students
Want to help ensure that all students in our area are equipped with the school supplies they need--including items for virtual learning--to get a great start to the upcoming school year? Donate to one or more of the following school supply drives sponsored by organizations that serve some of our county's neediest kids.

Here are a few that are still collecting:

Identity Inc. is running a back-to-learning donation drive to help fill backpacks with age-appropriate school supplies for up to 1,000 Latino and other historically underserved youth. Most-needed items include pens, binders, calculators, noise-cancelling earphones to block out distractions in crowded homes, and monetary donations to purchase supplies.
When: Ongoing, by prior arrangement
Where: 414 East Diamond Ave., Gaithersburg

Interfaith Works seeks donations of a variety of school supplies plus new children's underwear to support 2,600 local low-income students. The organization also accepts monetary donations that will allow it to purchase needed supplies.  
When: Tuesdays-Fridays, 9 am-4 pm, and Saturdays, 9 am-2 pm
Where: 751 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville--or donate remotely using IW's Amazon school supplies wish list
Details: Email Mike Grant

KindWorks is collecting used musical instruments for Montgomery County students whose families cannot afford to purchase or rent them (and cannot access school-owned shared instruments during the pandemic).
When: Saturday, Sept. 12, 12 noon-4 pm, or by appointment
Where: Bannockburn Community Clubhouse, 6314 Bannockburn Drive, Bethesda
Details: Email Deb Lang

Montgomery County Association of Family & Community Education is gathering school supplies to donate to children served by the National Center for Children and Families and by Interfaith Works. Accepted items include backpacks, pens, pencils, white glue, glue sticks, rulers, erasers, crayons, colored pencils, markers, compasses, protractors, scissors, paper clips, and binder clips.
When: Ongoing
Where: Front porch at 15500 Gallaudet Ave., Silver Spring, or 7208 Maple Ave., Takoma Park
Details: Email Kathie Mack or call 301-270-5367

Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless has completed its school supplies drive, but is now collecting funds to help create healthy learn-at-home spaces. This fund will help MCCH provide desks, calculators, sensory supports, and other items to help the students it serves get the most from virtual school learning. 
When: Ongoing
Where: Online
Details: Email Lynn Rose

Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation's Give BACKpacks campaign accepts monetary donations to fund the costs of providing students in need with virtual learning supply kits. A $10 contribution covers the cost of supplies for one student. 
When: Ongoing
Details: Visit the Give BACKpacks website

So What Else is collecting pencils, notebooks, index cards, and other school supplies, as well as educational games, puzzles, diapers, and formula for kids in need.
When: Mondays-Fridays, 10 am-4 pm, and by appointment on Saturdays
Where: 1201 First St., Rockville--or donate remotely using SWE's Amazon emergency supplies wish list
Details: Email sowhatelsehelps@gmail.com
Census Needs You!
This is the last month of the Census--the U.S. government's once-a-decade population count, which determines congressional representation as well as federal funding allocations for state and local services.

You can help ensure that the count is fair and accurate! If you haven't already done so, take 10 minutes to complete the count for your household at 2020census.gov. If you have, spread the word so others make sure to be counted. You can even volunteer with 2020 Census for Montgomery County, which will send Census ambassadors to food distribution sites and other community events to encourage participants to complete their Census. Volunteers will be provided posters with large QR codes that link to the Census site, face masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing guidelines to help ensure safe interaction. (Additional dates and locations are being added regularly so be sure to check back for more opportunities as the month progresses.)
AmeriCorps Members Serve Local (& National) Needs
AmeriCorps, an intensive service work program often referred to as "the domestic Peace Corps," relies on more than 75,000 people per year to serve nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the United States. While many local positions have been filled, a few organizations are still recruiting AmeriCorps members to help tackle a variety of needs in our community. Here are details:

  • CASA seeks full- and part-time immigrant integration specialists to support eligible lawful permanent residents in applying for U.S. citizenship and to provide community members with financial education and tax preparation assistance. CASA is also recruiting full-time youth education specialists to work with Latino and immigrant youth and families. Preference for individuals who are bilingual in Spanish, French, Korean, Mandarin, Thai, or Hindi. For more information or to apply, visit the CASA jobs website or email Pablo Blank.

  • The Choice Program at UMBC is looking for individuals to serve full time as mentors/counselors for disconnected youth at sites in Montgomery County (and other Maryland jurisdictions). Conversational Spanish proficiency preferred. Apply online or email choiceserves@umbc.edu to learn more.

  • Project CHANGE Montgomery is recruiting two full-time AmeriCorps members to serve with Community Bridges in responding to MCPS student mental health challenges related to COVID-19. These individuals will help with after-school programming and mentoring for girls in grades 4-12 and beyond. Project CHANGE also seeks volunteers (not AmeriCorps positions) to provide one-on-one support to struggling MCPS students For more information or to apply, email Paul Costello.

All AmeriCorps members are paid a living allowance stipend throughout the course of their service. They may also be eligible to receive an educational award at the end of their service and student loan deferment during their service.
Poll Workers Needed to Ensure Fair Elections
The Montgomery County Board of Elections seeks adults of all ages and students in grades 6 and up to serve as election workers during the 2020 presidential election, Tuesday, Nov. 3, and during early voting the prior week. Election workers--also known as election judges--help polling places run smoothly and serve as the point of contact between the voting public and the Board of Elections. Bilingual residents are especially needed.

Individuals who fill these service positions are paid a stipend; students can choose to earn SSL hours in lieu of payment. (The board's Future Vote volunteer program for students is on hold this fall due to the pandemic.)

Apply online or text SERVE to 77788.
Online Session: Thursday, Sept. 10
Finding Your Best Volunteer Fit During COVID & Beyond
Would you like to make a real difference during these challenging times? The pandemic has drastically altered the world of volunteering, as nonprofit and government agencies respond to both the increasing community needs and the constraints imposed by COVID-19.

Join the Volunteer Center for "Time To Give Back: Finding Your Best Volunteer Fit During COVID and Beyond," a Zoom event sponsored by the Montgomery County Public Libraries on Thursday, Sept. 10, 11 am-12 noon. You'll learn about our rich resources for exploring volunteer opportunities, the special services of the 50+ Volunteer Network, and what community service may look like in the future.

Attend the virtual event here on Sept. 10. (Note that the program session will lock at 11:05 am for security reasons.) Questions? Email 50plus@montgomerycountymd.gov.
It's Time to Pick Your 'Day to Serve'
Every year since 2012, Maryland, Virginia, DC, and West Virginia have joined together from Sept. 11 to Oct. 11 for "A Day to Serve," a movement designed to unite people of all backgrounds through the shared goal of helping those in need and improving our communities.

Although COVID-19 has limited the types of service activities available to volunteers--especially the large group projects that traditionally have been at the core of this event in Montgomery County--there are still many needs and many ways to help. Find them by searching through the opportunities on the Volunteer Center website and/or the ideas on the Day to Serve site.

Have a project of your own you wish to share to inspire others? Register your act of service and share pictures or information on social media using the hashtag #MDDTS2020.
Taking Care While Being a Good Neighbor
As you reach out to help others during the pandemic, please protect yourself and those you are serving by taking the following precautions developed by Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Stay home from all activities when you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
  • Keep away from others who are sick.
  • Limit close physical contact with others as much as possible, keeping at least 6 feet away and using a face covering when that physical distance can't be maintained.
  • Call, email, or text your neighbors who may need help.
  • If they are in need of immediate emergency care, call 911.
  • Limit your help to non-contact activities. For example:
  • Leave groceries on the doorstep. (Do not enter their house.)
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before touching anything you deliver to them.
  • To promote social interactions and combat loneliness, speak with neighbors on the phone or by video chat (versus going into their homes) on a regular basis.
  • Conduct research on their needs and provide them with resources or connect them directly with help such as feeding, transportation to medical appointments, animal services, etc.
  • Alert authorities if you think that a neighbor is in danger.
  • Do not act on your own.
  • Create an online network for your community.
  • Remember to protect yourself first! Do not put yourself or others at risk.
Subscribe to Our Partner Newsletters
The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up with these activities.

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Montgomery County Volunteer Center
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