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Jon Sutton

Executive Director, Empowering Students

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How do we engage our youth in volunteerism?

I run a website -- http://www.empoweringstudents.org -- that focuses on engaging students in volunteerism. I'm hoping my site and my idea will allow for our youth to find causes they are passionate about and get involved in them. Too often, one of these two events happens:

1) A student finds a cool cause but can't get involved. They don't know where to start
2) A student doesn't know what they even want to help with or what charities exist to combat it

I aim to eliminate both of these reasons by providing students with:

1) Contact information and fundraising/charitable ideas for the causes they want to get involved in. If they want to volunteer, we hope to find a place they can do that at. If they want to raise money, we want to help them do it most effectively and for an organization they are passionate about
2) A broad database of organizations sorted by cause, location, located affected, etc.

Am I on the right track? I am basing my conclusions and my solutions on my own experiences as a student. How can we effectively engage our youth in volunteerism? Do we provide them with enough resources? What types of resources can we give them that will help them the most?

This is my first post on TED; be gentle.


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  • Oct 23 2011: Many schools mandate volunteering. I think this is potentially harmful because it destroys the spirit of volunteerism: that it is voluntary. I think that the best way to go about promoting volunteering is to give the students more options.

    Volunteerism helps bridge the gap between what students learn in school to how that knowledge can be applied in real life.

    I think what you have is great (not bad for a first post).

    To add upon the idea:
    I think its absolutely key to allow students to come up with their own ideas. We are more enthusiastic about our own ideas.

    Best of luck!
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      Oct 23 2011: I agree, the worst thing we can do to volunteering is to marginalize it into the equivalent of community service.
      Lack of knowledge of the opportunities, while no excuse is the only rationalization I can think of.
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      Oct 24 2011: I completely agree with you in both regards.

      Volunteerism has to be just that, voluntary. That's why a big part of my idea is allowing students to find something they are passionate about.

      Allowing students to create their own ideas is a great addition, too. Ways we can provide students with resources to create their own charities should be encouraged.

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