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National Volunteer Week: Where In Chicago To Get Involved

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 11, 2011 8:20PM

2011_04826CHI.jpg Someone somewhere decided this week was National Volunteer Week; its aim is to recognize the millions of people who volunteer their time, talent and energy to strengthen their communities worldwide. We weren’t able to find many local National Volunteer Week events, but that’s no matter. We still thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight some of our favorite literacy organizations in the city that depend heavily on volunteers.

Neighborhood Writing Alliance: To give Chicago’s under-served communities opportunities to write, publish and perform works about their lives, the Neighborhood Writing Alliance provides free writing workshops and publishes the Journal of Ordinary Thought to showcase the personal stories written by workshop participants.
Contact the Neighborhood Writing Alliance to get involved.

Literacy Chicago: The programming at Literacy Chicago helps adults achieve greater self-sufficiency through language and literacy instruction. Their classes include ESL programs to help students improve their English skills, adult literacy and GED programs to serve those with limited reading skills and improve education opportunities, and workforce literacy programs to help improve skills necessary for the workplace. Volunteer opportunities include tutoring, administrative duties and committees.
Sign up to volunteer at Literacy Chicago.

826CHI: Dave Eggers started this non-profit writing and tutoring center in San Fransisco in 2002, and has since branched out to other cities. Since 2005, 825CHI has been serving nearly 4,000 students each year between the ages 6 to 18 with after-school tutoring and workshops, in-school projects, and field trips and publishes collections of students’ work. Most teachers, tutors and editors are volunteers. There are opportunities to volunteer at the Boring Store, too, which is a super secret store we can’t tell you about.
Apply to be a volunteer at 826CHI.

Open Books: Open Books takes a multi-pronged approach to improving literacy in Chicago, which in turn provides many opportunities for volunteers. The non-profit accepts, organizes, redistributes and sells book donations. Any proceeds from online and in-store book sales go back to Open Books programming. Volunteers can help with any aspect of the organization’s literacy programming, such as one-on-one reading with elementary school students, creative non-fiction and literacy-themed writing workshops, mentoring and immersive reading, writing, and publishing for teens.
Sign up to volunteer at Open Books.