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Local schools are one of the foundational elements of a strong and vibrant community. Good schools, supported by dedicated community members, help develop educated, civic-minded, and capable young people, delivering a meaningful impact on young lives. Schools are an important asset and may even boost real estate prices.

School systems often rely on volunteers to meet student needs, and they offer a wide range of opportunities to make a difference. Depending on the program and district you may need to undergo training and a background check before working with students. But if you want to go to the head of your class in giving back, here are 5 ways you can use your skills to help young people get a great education.

Tutoring and mentoring: Use your own experience and expertise to help students be more academically successful. Contact your local schools or community-based nonprofits to find out if there is a need for tutors. Organizations like AARP Foundation Experience Corps and  Reading Rockets let you volunteer as a reading tutor. By dedicating a few hours each week, you can help students build confidence, improve their grades, and unlock their full potential. Your local district or a nonprofit organization may also have formal mentoring programs. Or, you could look into virtual programs like iCoudBe, and MENTOR’s mentoring program has opportunities with young people ages 12 and under and 13+.

Assist with after-school programs: After-school programs offer students a safe and engaging environment outside regular school hours. These programs often rely on volunteers to assist with homework, arts and crafts, sports activities, or tutoring. Reach out to local community centers, recreation programs, youth organizations, or schools to inquire about volunteer opportunities within their after-school programs. By investing your time and skills, you can help students get the support they need to thrive.

Organize supply or backpack drives: Teachers often reach into their own pockets to get the supplies they need to teach their classes effectively. There are several ways you can help. Ask teachers directly which supplies they need and organize a school supply drive. Organizations like Donors Choose  participate in #CleartheLists, a movement where teachers post their supply needs and benefactors purchase the items for them. You may also choose to focus on providing school supplies, clothing, or technology to students who need a little help.

Students in underserved communities may also lack access to basic school supplies. Organizing a backpack drive—backpacks filled with school supplies—in collaboration with local businesses, community centers, or religious organizations ensure they have the resources they need to succeed academically. Spread the word through social media, neighborhood newsletters, and community bulletin boards to encourage donations of backpacks, notebooks, pens, and other essential items.

Join parent-teacher organizations (PTOs): PTOs and parent-teacher associations (PTAs) play a vital role in supporting schools and advocating for students' needs. By joining one or more of these groups, you can actively participate in shaping educational policies, organizing fundraisers, and coordinating events. Additionally, PTOs and PTAs often provide opportunities for parents and community members to volunteer in classrooms, libraries, or extracurricular activities.

Ask. Different schools have different needs. By simply reaching out to your local schools, you may find other opportunities to give back.

Ready to find more ways to give back? Visit Create the Good.