The Field Guide to Community Service
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
— Nelson Mandela
We can all play a role in taking care of the children in our community. It can be as simple as smiling and saying hello to a child in your neighborhood to as committed as becoming an advocate for a foster child. This chapter has loads of opportunities to inspire you to help lift up the next generation.
In a society where accurate information can be difficult to find online, check out Vote Smart, a website that provides unbiased facts about politicians to ensure all Americans are better informed about the voting process.
Want to help the youth in our community, but don’t know how? Collect your unused school supplies and donate them to the Kids in Need Foundation.
The Children’s Book Project donates books to children throughout Northern California. You can help by donating gently used books that you no longer need. By doing so, you’re helping kids receive an education.
Familiarize yourself with Project Cornerstone’s Developmental Assets and learn about simple ways to support youth in our community. Asset No. 14 calls for adults and parents to model positive behavior to ensure children feel known and loved. How can you reflect this asset in your own life?
Helping youth can be as simple as smiling and saying hello to a young person, engaging them in conversation or hiring them to help with odd jobs around your house. Small gestures can have a huge impact.
Join one of Uplift Family Services volunteer auxiliaries, which run Happy Dragon Thrift Shop, The Unicorn Thrift Shop and The Butter Paddle Gift Shop, and help raise funds to help children and families.
Teach a law course with Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY); no prior legal education or experience is necessary.
YearUp has multiple ways to get involved, including becoming a mentor or tutor, speaking to a class or proposing a project.
Volunteer with other strong women to help run programs with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative.
Science is Elementary has opportunities to join its educators for two hours a month to facilitate hands-on experiments for small groups of students.
Pivotal needs volunteers to send a college care package to foster youth who are now in college to remind them that people are rooting for them. When you sign up, they send you information about the student's background and preferences. Then you get to go shopping! Select some goodies like candy, fuzzy socks and warm blankets. Volunteers typically spend $40 to $100 for a care package and contribute $10 to cover the cost of shipping. Pivotal will package everything up and deliver it! You can shop for more than one student or gather some friends for a shopping party that serves a wonderful purpose.
Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley always needs volunteers, from science, technology, engineering and math tutors to individuals who can lend a hand with sports and activities.
Learn more about Bill Wilson Center’s volunteer case aide program, which connects children in foster care to caring adult volunteers who can help them with a variety of daily needs such as tutoring, mentoring and supervised visitations.
AchieveKids schools provide individualized, multidisciplinary programs that deliver special education, mental health and family support services for students ages 5 to 22 that have complex and often severe developmental, emotional and behavioral challenges.
Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center of Los Gatos
The JCC welcomes people of all faiths. It works to enhance Jewish life by providing social, cultural, educational and recreational services for the entire community.
Alum Rock Counseling Center provides behavioral health services to youth and their families throughout Santa Clara County.
Angels on Stage enhances the lives of children and young adults with special needs by breaking down stereotypes and empowering them to develop friendships, independence, confidence, self-esteem and life skills through the performing arts.
Animal Assisted Happiness works to enrich the lives of youth with needs through barnyard animal interactions at our Smile Farm and mobile visits, creating moments of joy and happiness throughout the AAH community.
B.O.K. Ranch Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program is dedicated to providing horseback riding lessons to children and adults with special needs.
Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative
BAWSI mobilizes the women’s sports community to engage, inspire and empower children who need us the most. Its programs focus on increasing resiliency in children living with adversity.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Bill Wilson Center supports and strengthens the community by serving youth and families through counseling, housing, education and advocacy.
Boy Scouts of America, Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council
Boy Scouts prepares young people to make ethical choices by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley
The Boys and Girls Club works to inspire and empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring adults.
Boys Team Charity is committed to helping other nonprofits through volunteerism provided by young men in grades 7-12 and their parent(s). Silicon Valley chapters are in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos and Saratoga.
Breakthrough Silicon Valley helps guide high potential, underserved middle school students on the path to college and inspires high school and college students to pursue careers in education.
BUILD is a four-year college readiness program that promotes entrepreneurship-based, experiential learning to ignite the potential of youth in under-resourced communities and equip them for high school, college and career success.
Provides free birthday cakes for foster children and at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
California Youth Symphony provides talented young musicians with musical experience and the opportunity for personal growth through the training and performance of symphonic music at the highest level.
Child Advocates recruits and trains Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) who stand up for children in the foster care system.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose inspires creativity, curiosity and lifelong learning through hands-on activities and exhibits.
CMT San Jose trains and educates youth through musical theater to enable them to achieve their artistic and personal goals, and to inspire them to become exemplary artists, patrons and citizens of tomorrow.
Cinequest is an annual film festival in San Jose that fuses innovation with the arts to empower great creations and to connect audiences, youth, artists and innovators with these creations and with each other. Cinequest runs Picture The Possibilities global youth programs, which empower youth around the world to create their visions.
City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley
City Year is an education-focused organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed through economic support, after-school programs and tutoring sessions in math and English.
The College of Adaptive Arts provides a lifelong, equitable collegiate experience for adults with special needs who historically have not had access to a college education.
Community School of Music and Arts
CSMA inspires excellence through art and music education for people of all ages and abilities.
The Digital NEST connects youth to a skill-building community that transforms them into professionals who can create successful careers, innovative solutions and prosperous communities.
DreamPower provides therapeutic horsemanship programs to at-risk, low-income children and teens in the Gilroy area.
Every Child Outdoors Foundation
The Every Child Outdoors Foundation reduces financial barriers to outdoor education for low-income students in Santa Cruz County.
Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley
Family & Children Services works to build strong, safe and self-sufficient individuals, families and communities. The organization offers a range of innovative, accessible and integrated programs and services addressing critical health and human services needs.
FIRST 5 supports the healthy development of children through age five and enriches the lives of their families and communities.
First Place helps foster youth build the skills they need to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency and responsible adulthood.
(408) 288- 2937
First Tee impacts the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.
FLY is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence, crime and incarceration of teens through legal education, leadership training and one-to-one mentoring.
Girl Scouts of Northern California
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
Girls on the Run Silicon Valley
Girls on the Run inspires girls (3rd thru 8th grade) to be joyful, healthy and confident using a curriculum that creatively integrates running.
Grail Family Services partners with families, schools and communities to promote children’s success and well-being in school, their communities and life.
Happy Hollow Foundation supports Happy Hollow Park & Zoo through fund-raising and educational activities in conjunction with the city of San Jose.
Hidden Villa strives to foster educational experiences that build connections and inspire a deeper appreciation and respect for nature, food and one another. They provide beautiful acres for hikes and picnics and also have animal reserves and gardens for relaxation and education.
Hope Services works to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities by providing children’s services, after-school programs, day services, employment and job training, mental health services, senior services and community living services.
Junior Achievement of Northern California
Junior Achievement is dedicated to educating young people about financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship.
Las Madres Neighborhood Playgroups Inc.
Las Madres provides a network of neighborhood playgroups. Through Las Madres playgroups, parents find friendship, support and helpful information while their children have the opportunity to make friends their own age.
Milpitas-based Leave a Trail offers therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs.
Living Classroom works to make education come alive and to empower the next generation by growing environmental champions, inquisitive learners, and healthy eaters who know where their food comes from. They inspire children to learn about and to value the natural world through garden-based education.
The center helps children and adults with autism or other developmental disabilities to maximize their potential in a dignified, positive and learning environment.
My Digital TAT2 addresses how to build healthy habits, critical thinking, and thoughtful online behavior in order to integrate technology into our lives in a constructive way.
My New Red Shoes provides homeless and low-income children with new clothing and shoes.
PHP helps children and adults with special needs receive the support and services they need to reach their full potential by providing information, training and resources to build strong families and improve systems of care.
Silicon Valley Children’s Fund and TeenForce merged to become Pivotal. The organization works to help foster youth achieve academic and employment success.
Playworks creates a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active and build valuable social and emotional skills.
PCA strives to develop “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide athletes with a positive, character-building youth sports experience.
Project Cornerstone helps children and teens feel valued, respected and known by building a web of support and programs around young people so that they grow into healthy, caring and responsible adults.
Project Linus provides love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of new blankets and quilts lovingly created by volunteer blanketeers.
Project Night Night provides free packages to homeless children from birth to pre-teen. Each package contains a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book and a stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag.
Ride a Wave gives children with special needs the chance to feel the thrill of being in the ocean and experience a safe, fun-filled day at the beach, whether they are physically, developmentally or economically challenged.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area
Ronald McDonald House provides communities of support, access to medical care, and the healing power of family and home for critically ill children.
The San Jose Youth Symphony gives young people a foundation for life through orchestral music. The symphony creates programs that assure young musicians achieve technical proficiency, musical knowledge and an emotional connection to music. It strives to make each performance uplifting, spirited and exciting.
Science is Elementary works to empower generations to better the world through science and scientific thinking. It affects systemic change in elementary school science education by teaching students, training teachers and engaging the scientific community.
Silicon Valley FACES is committed to ending bias, bigotry and violence. It is acclaimed for its youth camp experience, Camp Everytown.
StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley
StandUp For Kids works to end the cycle of youth homelessness by building communities where all youth feel loved and cared for, and have a support system to help them move quickly from surviving to thriving.
(415) 362- 5225
Summer Search helps low-income students across the country rise to their potential and become beacons of change in their communities.
The Tech Interactive is a family-friendly science and technology center that works to inspire the innovator in everyone through hands-on activities, experimental labs and design challenge experiences.
Teen Success Inc. empowers young mothers to graduate from high school and break out of the cycle of poverty for themselves and their children.
Think Together provides after-school programs in academics, enrichment and health/fitness to help create equity in education for youth.
TYM is changing the life trajectory of at-risk youth. Through year-round programming and mentoring relationships, the organization guides students through a transformational journey to instill resilience and fulfill their God-given potential.
TurningWheels for Kids provides children with new bikes to encourage lifelong habits of exercise, outdoor activity and independence.
Uplift Family Services helps over 30,000 children and family members recover from trauma, such as abuse, severe neglect, addiction and poverty, each year.
Vivace Youth Chorus of San Jose provides young singers with the means and opportunities to experience and share the power and poetry of song.
The Walden West Foundation seeks to make Outdoor School programing as accessible as possible to Santa Clara County students both financially and logistically. Established in 1996, the Walden West Foundation has helped to develop and foster collaborative science partnerships with leading Silicon Valley companies and educational institutions.
Year Up empowers low-income young adults to go from poverty to professional careers.
YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley
The YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
YSI works to inspire enthusiasm for science and a love of learning by offering hands-on, nature-based, science education to children, families and the general public.
Stop at every lemonade stand.
Support your young neighbor’s fund-raisers.
Listen to kids.
Know the children in your neighborhood.
Hire young people for odd jobs.
This Field Guide chapter was edited by Angela Gill.
Angela graduated Presentation High School in 2021 and is attending Gonzaga University.
When she is not editing the Field Guide, she enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends and going on long drives with her family.
Angela completed a platinum project where she partnered with the Children’s Book Project, an organization that delivers books to kids in Northern California, to create an annual book drive for the students at St. Joseph of Cupertino School. Through this experience, she learned that volunteer work benefits not only the community but the members inside and their views on the world.