The AmeriCorps program, also known as the “domestic Peace Corps,” offers a wide variety of projects, with a time commitment of 10 months to 1 year. Most of the opportunities are full time, but there are some part time projects available. Just like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps participants receive an allowance and some programs provide housing. Health coverage, training, and student loan deferment are also included with the programs. At the completion of their assignment, participants receive $4,725 towards college or graduate school, or the repayment of student loans.
Volunteer internationally with a non-profit organization
Many non-profits who offer international volunteer opportunities give participants the option of short-term or long-term experiences. The minimum is usually 10 days to 2 weeks, with a maximum of 1 year or even more. This is a great way to do some good without committing an extensive period of time. The downside to this option is that non-profits generally don’t give you too much training, as many simply facilitate the logistical side of your experience. Also, it is likely that you will have to pay, both for your plane ticket and for your lodging and expenses while in country. I recommend United Planet from firsthand experience – they provide pre, during, and post trip support. The trip does cost a couple thousand dollars or more, depending on where you are going and not including your flight, but they make sure everything is covered from your accommodations, support, and language lessons. A good resource for finding a volunteer opportunity abroad is the Volunteer Abroad website.
Volunteer locally with a non-profit organization
This option offers short term or long term experiences without many out of pocket expenses, if any. With a local non-profit, you can choose to volunteer for just one time, just one project, or an extended period of time. For example, with Habitat for Humanity, you could help build one house on a weekend, see a whole project through, or continue to volunteer for project after project, while Big Brothers Big Sisters is at least a 6 month mentoring commitment. This is a good choice for someone who wants to make a direct impact in their own community.
Work for a non-profit
Instead of volunteering, why not make some money while doing some good? Check Idealist.org to find job listings for non-profit organizations.
Teach English abroad
While Asia is a popular place to become an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, there are opportunities to teach abroad in many countries. Time commitments vary, as does pay, and you need to be sure to carefully read your contract before signing anything. For a ton of resources on where to go, what to do, and how to get there, check out Teaching ESL.
For volunteer opportunities in your city and abroad, visit Matador’s Volunteering Abroad page.