How Can I Help?
We have opportunities in all grades and subject areas from preschool through high school–and occasionally at the Berkeley Adult School. We always have an unmet need for volunteers in our year-round preschools, literacy/reading support in K-5th grade, and math or science. Many placements also provide training and support before you begin working with students. Depending on the teacher and grade level, you might be working with students 1-on-1, helping small groups of students, or working with the whole class on a special project, lesson or whatever the class is working on at the time you visit. If you would like a classroom volunteer placement, you should be available to volunteer at least 3 hours a week for the duration of the semester or 5 months.
- Classroom Volunteers
- WriterCoach Connection
- After School Programs
- Literacy Pals
- Special Education
- School Gardens
- Summer School
- Special Projects & Initiatives
Special Program Arrangements: groups, students, and partners.
* Programs marked with an asterisk require attendance at a sixty-minute, New Volunteer Orientation before placement in a program. Parents of current BUSD students and current BSV volunteers do not need to attend an orientation but many parents do attend to learn the do’s and dont’s of the school district. We usually hold orientations once a week from September through April, and several in June to accommodate the summer term. See our Orientation page for more information.
Volunteers are needed in pre-school through the adult school in all subjects. Classroom volunteers must commit to a regular schedule, working at least two hours per week. Volunteers are assigned to one classroom under the supervision of a credentialed teacher. Duties include one-on-one tutoring, small group assistance, and special projects.
WriterCoach Connection trains volunteers from all backgrounds as writing coaches who offer students one-on-one support on their classroom writing assignments. Volunteers join a team and meet with students in their middle school or high school English classes in regular coaching sessions throughout the year. WCC has its own training requirement. To get started, attend a the Schools Fund School Volunteers Orientation and indicate “WriterCoach Connection” on your registration form, or contact WCC directly via their website: http://www.writercoachconnection.org
Volunteers help students after school, assisting in completion of homework assignments, providing tutoring during the designated “academic” time, with a high need for supporting students in literacy/reading and math. Each school offers different enrichment activities, which may change daily. The diversity of the programs reflects the diversity of our students, but you may find: circus arts, Capoeira, soccer, basketball, gardening/cooking, arts & crafts, yoga, chess, and music classes. Due to the flexibility of this program, you may be able to arrange to teach the students something dear to you! Help is needed between 1:30 and 6:00 p.m., one or more days a week. You may be required to complete an additional FBI/Dept of Justice background check before you can volunteer for this program. Please ask BSV for updated details.
If you can’t make it to school during the day, you can help in this “pen pal” program! Volunteers and 5th and 6th grade students at various schools exchange monthly letters about books in this classroom-based program that encourages reading, develops letter writing skills, and links students with caring adults. Important information about the Lit Pals program:
- Program starts in mid-Fall and continues through late Spring (this may vary by teacher.)
- Program is run by the teachers participating (BSV recruits, teachers match them with students, manage the letters)
- Availability is limited to the number of students enrolled in participating classes and can change during the school year.
Want to sign up? Please complete our LitPals sign up form.
Volunteers can provide valuable help to students facing a variety of challenges ranging from physical impairments to learning disabilities. Volunteers work in both traditional and designated classrooms, assisting students with academics, socializing, and specially tailored activities.
Volunteers assist library staff with overall library operation and maintenance as well as providing computer research and general technology assistance to students using the library. Opportunities exist throughout the school day, to assist classes visiting the library, and often special projects throughout the year. Please ask us about this very flexible, multi-disciplinary option.
This is a great option for a first-time volunteer because you stay in one place all day, but many classes and grade levels come to you with a variety of projects! It’s a wonderful window into the school culture and dynamics of each classroom.
Gardens are thriving at nearly all Berkeley schools, and many hands are needed! Volunteers work alongside students to help maintain the gardens, sometimes in the kitchen cooking, and can also help teachers turn the experience into valuable lessons in science, nutrition and environmental education. You may be required to complete an additional FBI/Dept of Justice background check before you can volunteer for this program. Please ask BSV for updated details.
The Edible Schoolyard program is an internationally renown program of nutrition, cooking and garden education at King Middle school. For more information and current program needs, please see the “get involved” page on the Edible Schoolyard web site.
The Edible schoolyard (ESY) program requests that all volunteers commit to at least one semester, and regret that they are unable to engage short-term volunteers. Gardening experience is helpful, but not necessary. All potential Edible Schoolyard volunteers must first complete the BSV orientation process in order to be placed on the waitlist. The Edible School Yard garden, nutrition, cooking program @ King Middle school always has a wait list. Although we can place you on the list, only the ESY staff have control over how many volunteers they wish to take and when. We will notify you if/when your name comes up on the list. Until then, we strongly recommend that you volunteer in another Berkeley school garden/nutrition/cooking program while you wait. Ask us about the opportunities! You may be required to complete an additional FBI/Dept of Justice background check before you can volunteer for this program. Please ask BSV for updated details.
Please see our web page on Summer Volunteer Opportunities for more details and updates.
Please see our Urgent Needs page for current options!
All schools have special events, like a school beautification project, fundraiser, carnival day, or other big projects for which they could use your skills and support. Volunteers in the past have helped staff apply for grants, assist with written/spoken translation, collaborate with parent support programs (day and evening options) and other initiatives designated by BUSD staff. Let us know what you would like to offer (or if you would like to hear what schools currently need) and we will try to connect you with school staff to get started! Depending upon the nature and supervision of your placement, you may be required to complete an additional FBI/Dept of Justice background check before you can begin working on campus. Please ask BSV for updated details.
BSV can accommodate large groups in many of the placements listed above, but it will require prior arrangements. Please click through to our Group Opportunities to help you prepare to discuss your group’s needs and options. From classroom or after school volunteering, to one-time-only events and distance options, BSV is committed to designing a mutually beneficial and FUN experience for your group. Please contact us!
We are open to working within internship, field-studies, future teacher and other school-related requirements. Please bring any relevant information to the orientation or contact us before you need a placement to arrange for a meeting to discuss options. Due to our policy with the BUSD, we can only place volunteers with teachers requesting them, which means finding an appropriate placement may take time–and is never guaranteed. With that said, hundreds of students volunteer through BSV each semester. Please attend an orientation to get started!
BSV welcomes minors age 16 or older to volunteer in our schools, but they must have parent/guardian permission to do so. A PDF of our BSV Minor Permission Form is available here, which we need signed/completed in order to start the placement process. Please bring this to the volunteer orientation, or we will provide you with one there.
Minors are limited to placements in BUSD preschools and elementary schools (grades K-5th.) We recommend that all minors requesting placements have valid, current references (names and contact information) for our teachers/staff to contact regarding their maturity and ability to volunteer with youth.
In addition to the options listed above under student partnerships, we offer undergraduate academic credit for volunteering, and partner closely with the Cal Corp Student Services to coordinate other opportunities specifically for UC Berkeley students. Please click through to our CAL Student volunteer options page to hear more about our field studies course and special options.
Starting in August of 2012, you will need a Government form of identification (ID card, Driver’s License, Passport) in person at the orientation to complete your screening process.