Let’s Get to Work: Practical Ways for Writers and Teachers to Get Involved Right Now
A list of organizations for anyone who wants to volunteer and take action
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, communities which have in various ways long been at risk, including women, POC, Muslims, LGTBQ, immigrants, and the undocumented, are now facing the prospect of even greater disenfranchisement and vulnerability. The role of writers, editors, translators, teachers, journalists — whose task is to educate, to speak, listen, and bear witness, and to help raise the voice of others — will continue to be emphatically important. However, if you belong to any of those categories and are looking for additional ways in which you can practically and constructively participate, then the list we’ve compiled below is for you.
The organizations we have highlighted need writers/editors/teachers/ translators/others to volunteer. If you know of any comparable organizations that we might have missed, please mention them in the comments below. We will periodically update this page with new information.
New York Cares
New York Cares is looking for writers and others to help low-income high school students and their families fill out FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) applications to ensure they can afford college (no prior financial aid application experience is necessary, they provide training).
They are additionally looking for volunteer writers to help vulnerable high school seniors in New York write and prepare college applications.
East Harlem Tutorial Program
The East Harlem Tutorial Program will similarly be looking for writer-mentors to help see high school seniors through each step of the college application process. The application for the next round will open again in February 2017.
They are also looking for volunteer tutors to help middle and high school students in English, History, and a number of other subjects.
TheDream.Us is an organization which works to help undocumented immigrant youth — who have no access to federal aid, and limited state-aid access — gain college degrees. Right now they are looking for National Selection Committee Members to read and score applicant essays.
Girls Write Now
A mentorship program pairing high school girls in NYC one-on-one with women writers or digital media professionals from every discipline, Girls Write Now will soon be looking for mentor applications from women in either profession for their September 2017 — June 2018 programs. Keep an eye out for the application here, and read more here. And look out for other ways you can get involved with them here.
Similar to Girls Write Now but based in L.A., WriteGirl is seeking volunteer mentor-writers (women or men) on a rolling basis to work with teen girls at schools throughout Los Angeles County. Their next training session begins Spring 2017.
Arab-American Family Support Center
The Arab-American Family Support Center provides services to members of Arab, Middle-Eastern, Muslim and South Asian immigrant communities throughout New York’s five boroughs. Right now they are seeking tutors for their children’s after-school program, conversation partners for ESL students, and volunteers to help adult students study for their citizenship exam.
Based in Brooklyn and Liberia, Imani House has a number of programs specifically aimed at assisting and empowering “marginalized youth, families, and immigrants.” They are looking for volunteer educators to teach adult literacy, ESOL, and GED courses.
Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ Immigrant Rights organization based in NYC, is currently looking for translators to help pro bono attorneys speak with clients in their native language, to complete asylum applications, and in the courtroom. If you are fluent in a second language, you could be of help.
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Based in New York, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, an organization assisting and advocating for “low-income people and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming” is looking for volunteer translators, researchers, writers, and editors.
The L.A. chapter of CARECEN, which among other things provides education, advocacy and low-cost immigration legal services, is looking for volunteers very soon to help proofread and review college applications from high school seniors. They are also looking for English instructors, research volunteers, and volunteer translators.
The New York chapter of the Central American Refugee Center is looking for ESL classroom assistants and Spanish interpreters.
Meanwhile, in D.C., the CARECEN Latino Resource and Justice Center, needs volunteers to help immigrants fill out citizenship applications, teach classes to help students prepare for the citizenship interview and exam, teach ESL, and serve as mock interviewers for students.
PEN America, an organization seeking to protect and advocate for free expression and the human rights of writers, has active employment opportunities and internships in a number of different categories. Check them out here.
With chapters in Boston, New York, D.C., Michigan, Chicago, L.A., and Valencia (and in Seattle as The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas), 826 and their related organizations offer programs that “provide under-resourced students, ages 6–18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills,” and helps “teachers get their classes excited about writing.” They have volunteer openings and employment opportunities in a number of categories.
Free Arts NYC
Free Arts NYC aims at providing arts-based mentoring to underserved youth, from pre-K all the way up through high school. They will once again be looking for volunteers beginning in January 2017.
And once again, if you know of any comparable organizations that we might have missed, please mention them in the comments below.