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Urban Volunteering: Los Angeles

by Eric Mackey Feb 9, 2010
When it comes to volunteering, many people want to help with the most critical issues facing their community.

In Los Angeles, the biggest social problems are homelessness, youth, and the environment. Here are a few organizations that need your help.


Stand Up for Kids

Stand Up for Kids is a national organization working to help America’s homeless youth. Their signature purple shirted volunteers have been helping kids all over the United States since 1990.

There are centers in Venice Beach and Hollywood, where volunteers provide counseling, hot meals, a place to sleep as well as catering to hygienic needs of about 100 to 150 kids a couple nights a week.

Counselors go through a “rigorous training course” to prepare for what they’ll see on the streets and are asked to give two to three hours per week for six months upon completion.

Since the organization is 99.5% volunteers, there are many positions to be filled. here.

Volunteer with a group and help serve meals to those staying at the center. Individuals can volunteer at the PATHfinder job center, PATHmall, one of the transitional housing centers, or at the Rhonda Fleming Family Center.

Email Sally Evans ( for more info.


Stoked! Mentoring

Stoked! mentor , you have to be at least 25, pass a background check, and go through an interview. Orientation, training, and a matching process follow. You’ll spend at least four hours a month with your mentee and participate in four sports days per season.

If you can’t commit your time, lend your knowledge by teaching kids to skate, surf, or snowboard. This unique organization also needs volunteers for committees, events, and fundraising efforts. Fill out the volunteer application on the Stoked! site.

Free Arts for Abused Children

ways to participate.

826LA aims to get students excited about creative writing. After school one-on-one tutoring sessions are available Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5:30, to help kids between the ages of 6 and 18 with their homework, test prep, or even writing the next big novel.

826 also strives to publish the work of their high school writers. Previous publications have featured famous forwards from people such as Mayor Villaraigosa and Phil Jackson. The Los Angeles chapter has two centers; the east center is in Echo Park and the west center is in Venice.

Email 826LA at to become a tutor.

LA’S Best

Founded in 1988, LA’s Best realizes that unsupervised hours after school are the most vulnerable for kids at risk. LA’s Best provides a safe place for children in areas where gang activity, drugs, and crime are most pronounced and where test scores are consistently lowest.

Services are provided to more than 28,000 kids at 180 elementary schools in Los Angeles. Download the volunteer application here.


Food Forward

Food Forward volunteers pick excess fruits to be donated to local food pantries. This is a beautifully simple and innovative way to fight hunger and enjoy the outdoors. Volunteers just pick fruit and/or donate their harvest. Check out their here.

Heal the Bay

In 1985, a few concerned citizens recognized that the Santa Monica Bay was in grave danger due to an irresponsible sewage treatment plant. Since then, this non-profit has fought to improve the condition of the bay through manpower and local legislation.

Get involved and be a captain of beach clean up with orientation and training, or speak on behalf of Heal the Bay at events. Check out Falling Whistles, Causecast, and volunteering abroad focus page!

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