Nov 24, 2019

15 creative ways teen entrepreneurs can serve their communities

Not everyone is a “joiner.” More entrepreneurial students may prefer to think outside the box when it comes to creating volunteer activities or devising ways to serve their communities. And with the support of social media to reach your market, many of these projects are easier than ever.

With a little imagination and willingness to tackle tasks others find boring or difficult, you can show initiative, reveal business acumen and hone managerial skills—qualities colleges value and others appreciate.

And you can do some good.

Consider a few ideas:

1. Establish a donations program. Most nonprofits and churches need in-kind donations such as books, school supplies, athletic equipment or art materials. One local high school student collected used children’s books. She donated most but sold others through a yard sale, the proceeds from which she donated to a nonprofit.
Hint: Use social networking sites to get the word out.

2. Begin a tutoring service. Reach out to organizations serving younger children or look within your immediate community to volunteer your services as a tutor. You can even put your high school foreign language training to good use by working with English as a Second Language (ESL) students and adults.
Hint: Teaching others will help sharpen your own skills.

3. Be an entertainer. Gather friends and create a traveling road show appropriate for venues such as senior centers or summer camps. Clowns, musicians, jugglers and amateur magicians can put their skills to good use in these kinds of ventures. One local high school band volunteered to be the entertainment at a “prom” for disabled adults and was wildly received.
Hint: These projects can evolve into great business opportunities for a fledgling rock group or for the budding thespians among your inner circle of friends, and if you can't perform, you can always be the manager.

4. Develop a curriculum. It can be as simple as kitchen science experiments or as comprehensive as one local student’s work on environmental issues which she developed into an educational program for elementary school children. Do some research, put together a project, and then approach organizations looking for activities or presentations to supplement their own.
Hint: Summer camps and afterschool programs are particularly receptive to scheduling special events or classes for campers.

5. Plant a community garden. If you have a green thumb or love spending time in a garden, consider planting a “community” garden in which you grow fruits or vegetables for donation to a food bank—either from the products themselves or proceeds from sales of products. Plots may be rented through various community groups and nonprofit organizations or you can set aside dedicated space in your own backyard.
Hint: Any garden can double as a research laboratory for investigating niche science fair topics ranging from fertilizers to pest control.
6. Support a child care center. Read stories, develop art projects, coach easy sports concepts, or create a movement or stretching class. Share your knowledge and skills to enrich the program as well as provide relief to teaching staff.
Hint: Inner city programs serving low-income children are in particular need of support.

7. Use your computer skills. This can be as complex as offering to make or maintain a website for a local nonprofit or as simple as providing one-on-one support to an early learner or a senior citizen.
Hint: Many seniors want to set up internet accounts to connect with old friends and family but simply don’t know how.

8. Write for a local newspaper. Submit an article on how students give back to their communities. Describe your experiences, interview local volunteers or volunteer organizations, or promote upcoming events.
Hint: Published articles may be attached to or appears as links on resumes and college or scholarship applications.

9. Create a blog. One local student developed a blog on her experiences living with cerebral palsy. Her suggestions and thoughtful commentary received responses from all over the country. Blogs are not difficult to create, and they can reflect a range of experiences, interests, or expertise.
Hint: Well-written and maintained blogs can be of great interest to application readers and also may appear as links on resumes and applications.

10. Establish a recycling service. Offer to pick up recyclables and get them to the proper facilities. This project will require familiarity with local rules and regulations, but knowing how to dispose of cans of old paint or how to recycle single-use batteries through mail-in or take back programs can be enormously important to saving the environment.
Hint: Promoting the availability of these services through social media can help raise community awareness of the importance of properly disposing of toxic and other materials and could evolve into an effective public service campaign.

11. Decorate for the holidays. Provide a little holiday cheer by gathering a group of friends who can untangle holiday decorations and don’t mind standing on ladders. This is a great way to bring the gift of light into the lives of those around you, particularly the elderly and disabled.
Hint: Solicit donations of new, more energy-efficient lights from individuals and organizations committed to environmental causes and publicize their support for your initiative.

12. Adopt a Highway or a Street. Although rules vary by jurisdiction, most states will allow families and small independent groups to adopt highways. And many municipalities have street adoption programs. In Virginia, one member of the group must be 18, but the work crew can have members as young as 10. The adopting group will be asked to make a commitment to pick-up litter several times per year from an assigned segment of highway in return for training, equipment, and trash bags.
Hint: Come up with a creative name for your group and write about your experiences or the kinds of trash you’re gathering (see numbers 8 and 9 above).

13. Be an Etsy retailer to support a cause. A couple of years ago, a local student used her sewing skills to make simple sundresses she marketed over the internet. She designed the dress, set up a website, obtained fabric donations, and solicited sewing help from friends. All proceeds were donated to charity.
Hint: This young lady had no trouble getting into college.

14. Establish an online store. If you’re not particularly creative or don’t have a handmade product to sell, you can go the re-sale route. Collect donations of small, easy-to-ship items no longer useful to their owners but which might have value on Ebay or similar online retail outlets. Make sure your customers know their purchases will be used to support a nonprofit activity or organization and don’t forget to figure shipping into your price!
Hint: Items which aren’t sold may be donated to charity or otherwise recycled with local nonprofits.

15. Provide services for shut-ins. There are folks in your community who could use extra help but can’t afford to hire a professional service. Offer to be a companion, run errands, walk the dog, pull weeds, shovel snow or organize the garage.
Hint: You can support your volunteer effort with a paid enterprise marketed to those interested in “renting a kid” in your neighborhood.

Some activities can have lives beyond the summer. They evolve into long-term service learning projects or new clubs at school.

Be creative and industrious, but feel free to have a little fun too.  

This is the second in a series of three articles on the value of community service.

No comments:

Post a Comment