Nicole, Oakland, CA

To me, public services hjumpstart,human services,volunteer opportunities, volunteer experience, education servicesave always liked felt like the foundation of any community, supporting individuals to thrive despite social, educational, economic and other disparities. As both a recipient and provider of services, I feel drawn to these efforts. I have been fortunate to work with several organizations whose missions align with my passion, and I am building a truly a fulfilling life path for myself along the way.

My first adventure in human services was working in a teaching group in Oakland, California for the AmeriCorps’s program Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a national early education organization serving preschool children in underserved neighborhoods. Its mission is to help children develop language and literacy skills in preparation for kindergarten and beyond. Over two years of service I worked as a practitioner of educational services as well as a group organizer to include the community in our educational endeavors.

Some of the most rewarding moments with my Jumpstart class were witnessing students engage with their parents through their education. Helping my students display schoolwork to their parents or share a book they read with them was very satisfying. Pick-up time became a sort of show-and-tell for the things students learned that day. Parents are truly children’s foremost educators, and having students link their formal education with them was tangibly accomplishing Jumpstart’s mission.

My utmost goal in my service with Jumpstart was to foster a sense of competence in all of my students. Every effort as a corpsmember – from instruction to parental contact to community programs – was to help students feel empowered in their own education. In turn, my service and my students empowered me to put my skills and interests to best use: to henceforth maximize resources for non-profit organizations. It became clearer to me that my life’s work should be to organize operations to provide the best services to the greatest amount of people. I am now working on this mission as a career by promoting leadership, organizational sustainability and community engagement. I thank Jumpstart for an amazing service experience and I thank my students for all of their hard work and optimism.

One Step at a Time

With the state of the world right now, it is easy to feel useless.  If you are one of young Americans stuck with an average student loan debt of $29,000, the idea of leaving your corporate job to change the world seems unrealistic.  The NGS Movement understands your dilemma and we have a few suggestions for ways you can make a difference without quitting your job and joining Peace Corps.

  1. Green your commute. If you live in a city that is bike accessible, consider waking up early and biking into work.  On your healthy, money-saving ride, maybe you will have a brilliant idea about how your company can address social issues. At the very least, you are sure to save money, feel healthier and energized for the day, and be more able to focus when you arrive at your desk. If you are not open to cycling, checkout a popular ridesharing program.  Carpooling reduces environmental footprint and introduces you to new people in your community.
  2. Play Freerice.  Weather you have a slow day at work or have your lap top or cell phone handy while watching evening TV, everyone has a few minutes to play freerice, an online game that rewards you with grains of rice instead of points.  The rice is donated to the United Nations World Food Program.  The game will also improve your geography and refresh that high school Spanish.
  3. Sign petitions at is a website that hosts tons of petitions on issues both small and large-scale, relating to the environment, human rights, sustainable food, animals, or economic justice – to name a few.  Signing one is as easy as entering your name and email, and these petitions actually lead to victories such as banning the sale of bottled water in Grand Canyon National Park.  Check it out, and if you’re feeling up for it, write one yourself for a cause you believe in!
  4. Help translate the web.  What if rural children in South America or Western Africa could go to an Internet café and learn about building a solar oven or starting a pod cast, they could if most of the web wasn’t written in English.  Duolingo is a project to translate the web from English into other languages, while teaching you a second language! The website is currently in Beta, but keep an eye out, watch the TED talk to learn more.
  5. Micro volunteer.  Across the country, non-profits need your skills and expertise, and don’t necessarily need you in human form in their office.  Sites like match your skills with a non profit’s project, and allow you to work on the project in one weekend or just offer consulting advice a few minutes a day.
  6. Give.  While you participate in the corporate giving program, take your generosity to the next level and research the non profits in your area, find an issue you are passionate about and sign up to give monthly.  Ask if you can come visit their office and meet the staff – chances are these people share your passion and would love to talk to you about your ideas and solutions (especially because you are a donor, a supporter, someone who shows their belief in the issue with their hard earned money).  Who knows, you may even become a new project consultant and open doors for the future… an excuse to leave your company.