Volunteer With Us
Help us create a platform for the powerful voices and stories of student writers.
Each one of our dedicated volunteers fuels 826 Boston’s free programming by offering individualized support for students and by lowering the student-to-adult ratio in Boston Public Schools classrooms and in our Tutoring Center. We encourage tutors of all backgrounds to apply, and we especially seek volunteers who identify as Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Latinx, LGBTQ+, or multilingual.
We anticipate having both remote and in-person volunteer opportunities for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Here’s how you can join our community of more than 700 writing coaches, tutors, storytellers, editors, illustrators, workshop leaders, and more!
Volunteering as a group?
Volunteering as a group is a great way to bond with your colleagues or get your Bigfoot-loving friends involved with 826 Boston. To sign up for a group volunteer opportunity, please complete this form and someone from the volunteer team will contact you about next steps.
Are you under 18?
Volunteering with 826 Boston gives you an opportunity to gain professional experience and complete community service hours. We welcome volunteers over the age of 16 to tutor in our K-8 programs. If you are interested in volunteering and are under 18, please complete this form and someone from the volunteer team will contact you about next steps.
Already a volunteer?
Great! Head over to the W.A.T.E.R.I.N.G. H.O.L.E. (Where A (lot of) Tutoring (and) Educational Resources, Information, News, Guidance, Help, (and) Other Lessons Exist) to view the calendar, sign up for shifts, and much more.
We can’t wait for you to take the first steps toward volunteering! As Helen, a student at 826 Boston, once wrote, “That is how bright your future is, only if you make a change. Take that step today and be amazed.”
Find answers to common questions below about volunteering with 826 Boston.
Why should I volunteer with 826 Boston?
Our programming is structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with individualized attention. So whether you’re helping a student write about a very athletic astronaut who plays sports in space (on Mars, to be exact) or encouraging them to add more detail to a narrative about their family, your individualized support can help them improve confidence in their communication skills. As part of a collective team of volunteers, your work will also help us build a wider community of empowered young writers who will succeed in school and carry with them a lifelong love of writing and reading.
What’s it like to volunteer? What will be expected of me?
Iyla, a student at 826 Boston, sums it up pretty well: “At 826 Boston, the students eat the brains of tutors who bother them, and put them out of their misery.”
Just kidding—you’ll be using your brains to ask students engaging questions and serving as a sounding board for all of their fantastic ideas!
In terms of what we expect of volunteers, we’ll never ask you to commit to a certain number of hours—everyone is busy, and our goal is to meet you where you are. That said, consistency is key for students; we want to establish an environment of trust, which takes time on the volunteer’s part. We also request that volunteers honor whatever commitment they can make. If you are unable to complete a shift, please let us know at least 24 hours in advance so that we can plan accordingly.
Regardless of how often you volunteer with 826 Boston, we also expect that you’ll approach each session with a willingness to grow. It’s important to understand that you, as a volunteer, have just as much to learn from our students, staff, and service members as they have to learn from you. Volunteers should be excited to learn and willing to continually improve their tutoring skills for the sake of our students. (Appreciating our creative sensibilities and quirky sense of humor is also a plus!)
How do I choose which 826 Boston program to volunteer with?
The sky’s the limit: Our programming caters to students from ages 6 to 18, both in and out of school, across a range of subjects, so the choice simply depends on your interests and strengths. Our regular programming is held at seven different locations—our Tutoring Center in Egleston Square and six different Boston Public Schools. All in-school opportunities align with school days and take place between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
To learn more about our opportunities, check out the “Volunteer Opportunities” tab on this page. We encourage you to choose a volunteer role based on the age group, subject matter, and tutoring environment you’re comfortable with, or to try out something brand new!
What if I want to be involved in other ways besides tutoring?
We always encourage students to explore all of their interests and skills; volunteers are encouraged to do the same! Whether you’re a photographer, editor, event planner, or have another skill to offer outside of tutoring, we hope you’ll be able to share it with us.
We’ll send you a biweekly email with all of our volunteer needs, including publishing projects, editorial boards, workshops, and other short-term opportunities. If you recognize an additional need or would like to offer a different service to our organization, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
What can you tell me about the students I’ll be working with?
The students at 826 Boston are talented, hardworking, thoughtful, hilarious, and always themselves! They’re passionate about the work they do, and they enjoy meeting and sharing their ideas with volunteers. “Hello, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you,” wrote one student at Family Writing Night. “I have a feeling me and you gonna connect well. So let’s start talking, you start.”
The vast majority of students in 826 Boston programming attend Boston Public Schools (BPS) in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain. According to BPS, the student population is 42.5 percent Hispanic, 33 percent Black, 14 percent White, 9 percent Asian, and 1.5 percent multiracial. Additionally, 45 percent of BPS students speak a language that is not English, and 32 percent are English Language Learners.
How can I support English Language Learners?
There are many strategies to connect with and support students who are English Language Learners (ELL), including making assignments more accessible to them, transcribing their words, avoiding idioms, continually checking for clarity and understanding, and much more. You can explore these strategies in our English Language Learning Tip Sheet.
Additionally, an 826 Boston team member will always be available to support you as you work with ELL students. Volunteers who speak another language are encouraged to support students in their native languages.
I’m not a writer, and I’ve never worked with youth. How can I contribute my skills to a youth writing organization?
Anyone who believes in 826 Boston’s mission and is willing to learn can contribute as a volunteer. In fact, we’re always looking for volunteers who have experience in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and other fields in which writing is essential, but is often overlooked. 826 Boston offers comprehensive training to ensure that you feel comfortable engaging with youth and helping them with their writing. You’ll have ongoing support to keep growing your skills, and the students will teach you a lot along the way: “I have never stopped learning,” writes Gerard, an 826 Boston student. “That is one thing that I love about myself.”
Do you have resources that will help me grow as a tutor?
Yes! In addition to the materials you’ll receive at tutor training, you’ll also have access to a range of supplemental training materials, like tip sheets, and other helpful articles and videos in W.A.T.E.R.I.N.G. H.O.L.E.’s Resource Library.
Each tutoring session you attend will also include time for a debrief session in which an 826 Boston team member can answer your questions and refer you to related resources. Micro-trainings on topics like using strengths-based language, helping students with math assignments, strategies for trauma-informed tutoring, and more are also held during debrief sessions to help you continually deepen and expand your skills as a tutor.
How do I get started?
First, review the 826 Boston Volunteer Orientation Guide for an in-depth look at our programs, impact, and various volunteer roles and responsibilities. At the end, you’ll find links for you to submit your Tutor Application Form and Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI). Once you’ve submitted both of these documents, you can go ahead and sign up for a New Tutor Training Session! The registration links and upcoming dates for these trainings are also listed at the end of the New Volunteer Orientation Guide.
What does New Tutor Training involve?
During the training session, we’ll discuss students’ social-emotional needs and best practices for writing tutoring. The session will not only provide you with specific strategies for conferencing with students about their writing, but will also give you a framework with which you can make deeper, more meaningful connections with students. This is a mandatory training session for new volunteers—by delivering the same training to all 826 Boston tutors, we can ensure that students are only working with tutors who have the most up-to-date training, and help prepare you for any unforeseen challenges. You can check out available training dates and register for a session at the end of the New Volunteer Orientation Guide.
What information do you need to run the background check?
You’ll need a government-issued photo ID, as well as the last 6 digits of your Social Security Number in order to fill out the CORI (found at the end of our New Volunteer Orientation Guide). Don’t have a social security number? Fear not! Just bring your I-20 and your visa to the New Tutor Training Session instead.
I already filled out a CORI for another organization. Do I need to do it again?
Yes. CORI records are kept confidential within an organization and cannot be shared externally. 826 Boston requires a current CORI on file for every volunteer. Volunteers who will be visiting our in-school programs will also need to submit a CORI application with Boston Public Schools.
How do I sign up for shifts?
Once you’ve attended a New Tutor Training Session, you can sign up for shifts anytime. If you’re interested in setting up a recurring shift, you can fill out this sign-up form to let us know when you’re available and which tutoring sites you’re interested in. If you want to sign up on a more flexible, drop-in basis, check out our Volunteer Calendars on W.A.T.E.R.I.N.G. H.O.L.E. Use your mouse to hover over a shift to see how many volunteers we still need, then click and follow the instructions to sign up!
How can I cancel a volunteer shift?
We ask that volunteers let us know at least 24 hours in advance if they need to cancel their shift, but we understand that things happen! Please email email@example.com or call our Tutoring Center at (617) 442-5400 as soon as you can so we have time to find a replacement.
Can I get community service hours by volunteering with 826 Boston?
Potentially. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to work directly with students. If you’re under 16, feel free to email us to discuss other options we have available. We’re always happy to discuss alternative service projects!
How can I stay up-to-date as a volunteer?
As a volunteer, you’ll receive biweekly emails with our latest news and volunteer opportunities. You’ll also get our monthly newsletter, In Tandem, with additional updates and volunteer stories. To find new shifts and opportunities in the meantime, you can always check out the Volunteer Calendars on W.A.T.E.R.I.N.G. H.O.L.E.
If you have additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Our volunteers wear many hats and help out in a variety of 826 Boston programs. Learn more about the roles you can take on as a volunteer:
826 Boston’s free programming supports Boston Public School students of all ages, on a wide range of subjects, both in and out of the classroom. Learn more about each of our programs and check out our Writers’ Room partner schools.
so many amazing students with incredible personal stories. Watching their transformations from sometimes reluctant participants to excited, published authors felt a little bit like a magical journey.”
– Pam Rosenburg, Volunteer