Serve anywhere, anytime through a virtual volunteer opportunity! Some of these opportunities allow you to begin immediately, while some require an application and ongoing commitment. Review the links below for complete details, and contact the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have other suggestions of nonprofits to add to this list.
I. Opportunities Related to COVID-19
Below are options of grassroots community efforts to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic remotely. Because the situation is rapidly evolving, we encourage you to research these opportunities more in depth to ensure they are being requested by community agencies, healthcare professionals, and others on the frontline of the crisis. We will continue to update this page as we are alerted to more opportunities.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House and a coalition of leading research groups have prepared the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19). CORD-19 is a resource of over 44,000 scholarly articles, including over 29,000 with full text, about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and related coronaviruses. This freely available dataset is provided to the global research community to apply recent advances in natural language processing and other AI techniques to generate new insights in support of the ongoing fight against this infectious disease.
Community members have started a Facebook group - Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies - to bring people together to evaluate, design, validate, and source the fabrication of open source emergency medical supplies around the world, given a variety of local supply conditions.
CWRU MedWish is also looking to fund individuals with 3D printers to make open-source masks for healthcare providers due to COVID-19. If you have access to a 3D printer while in social isolation, please fill out this form. If approved, CWRU MedWish will fund the purchase and shipping of the materials required for printing the mask/respirator and request photos of your 3D printer to walk you through purchasing filament/material. The group is open to funding various face mask designs but will be using this design as the default. Contact email@example.com with questions.
CWRU's Weatherhead School of Management's xLab has partnered with HAT-LAB, NHSx, The Ethical Tech Alliance, and the Cleveland Clinic’s Hwang Lab on Hack from Home. This global virtual hackathon is sponsored by Dataswift and aims to find technology solutions to fight the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate against the economic and societal impact. The event will be held remotely on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5.
Teams of data scientists, designers, activists, and experts will be working together to help solve some of the greatest challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more and register visit: Hack from Home.
Hack Quarantine is a fully-online, people-focused hackathon running from March 23-April 12 bringing people together to use their skills to help combat the issues the world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. There are different participant tracks available, including supporting people quarantined or at risk, tech and health, remote working, and improving awareness and behavior.
Other virtual hackathons are:
Volunteers are needed to sew medical masks for high-risk populations to try and minimize the spread of some communicable diseases. Explore the Masks Now Coalition Facebook page, instructions and kits available from University Hospitals, a tutorial from JOANN about making masks and gowns, Cleveland Sews, and Face Mask Makers Ohio for details.
II. General Short-Term and/or Available for Immediate Start Opportunities
Help Missing Maps from your computer with disaster relief efforts around the world by mapping missing buildings, roads, and other distinguishing features in a community onto a satellite map in order to assist first responders in their disaster response decisions.
Free Minds, a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, uses books and creative writing to empower youth who are incarcerated to transform their lives. Volunteers are needed to comment on poems posted on the Free Minds Writing Blog, and this feedback will be shared with the poets. Watch a video about the organization’s work and the power of the feedback as well as another video (6:30mins in) showing the types of feedback most valuable.
You can volunteer to be a text corrector for CWRU’s own digitized student newspapers. Nine newspaper titles with over 6,000 issues featuring over 300,000 articles have been digitized and OCR’d. While the optical character recognition (OCR) technology is very good, it is not perfect. Volunteer to correct errors and learn about CWRU’s history and the experiences of students before you. After you register as a text corrector, there is a brief tutorial. Contact CWRU Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Support researchers at the University of Minnesota with mapping racial covenants, which contributed to structural barriers by stopping many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century. Volunteers are needed to review deeds and other historical documents to flag them for racial language. Researchers will then use the data to map historic structural racism and its present day consequences. For further learning, watch this short video on the history of redlining.
Project Gutenberg converts hard copy texts now in the public domain to eBooks so that all may enjoy them for years to come in a freely available form. Volunteers are needed to proofread scanned pages of text before they go to Project Gutenberg’s archives to ensure they have converted properly to eBook format. After you register and review the instructions for how to begin, you can volunteer as much or as little as you’d like. Proofreading at least one page a day is recommended.
LibriVox volunteers read and record chapters of books in the public domain (i.e. - books no longer under copyright; primarily those published before 1923), and make them available for free on the Internet. Recordings (including yours!) are also donated into the public domain so that others may enjoy them in audio format. Books are recorded in a variety of languages, and volunteers may join to read just a chapter, individual poems, a full book, or listen and edit others’ readings.
Zooniverse is an online platform for people-powered research, allowing researchers to analyze their information more quickly and accurately than would otherwise be possible with the help of virtual volunteers. There is no minimum time commitment, and volunteers can start immediately on one of the many projects, such as tagging penguins in remote regions, transcribing handwritten correspondences between anti-slavery activists, or searching gravitational waves.
- Library of Congress By the People volunteers transcribe documents online to make them word-searchable in the Library of Congress catalog. Many of these documents have never been transcribed before. Read the instructions, and begin immediately supporting a variety of campaigns, such as Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words, Letters to Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony Papers, and more.
- Through the Citizen Archivist program, you can contribute to the National Archives Catalog by tagging, transcribing and adding comments to records, making them more accessible and searchable.
- Become a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer and help make historical documents and biodiversity data more accessible. Join 14,791 "volunpeers" to add more to the total 516,426 pages of field notes, diaries, ledgers, logbooks, currency proof sheets, photo albums, manuscripts, and biodiversity specimens labels that have been collaboratively transcribed and reviewed since June 2013. No set time commitment is required, and volunteers can begin immediately. Browse opportunities online, and read a guide and FAQs on transcribing.
III. General Ongoing, Specialized, and/or Application-Required Opportunities
United Nations Volunteers apply to work on virtual projects for UN affiliates across the globe on either a short-term or ongoing basis. Projects are in the areas of writing and editing, translation, research, teaching and training, art and design, technology development, and more. Browse opportunities online.
Crisis Text Line is the free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis in the United States. The service is powered by volunteer Crisis Counselors who work remotely — anywhere with a computer and secure internet connection works. After completing a 30 hour training, Crisis Counselors commit to volunteering 4 hours per week until 200 hours are reached. Ideally, it is expected that you fulfill your commitment within one year.
AIM2Flourish is a globally used program of CWRU’s Fowler Center that teaches students about the positive effects that business can have on society and the environment by having students interview business leaders and write stories about their innovations. Each story is reviewed by volunteer AIM2Flourish Editors to check for grammar and clarity. Editors serve about 1-2 hours a week reviewing stories virtually, and students interested in learning more about the role can find additional details online.
Bookshare volunteers can either scan book files into an online library or proofread scanned files to ensure they have formatted correctly so that individuals who have reading barriers may more easily access books for school, work, or fun.
Operation Photo Rescue seeks volunteers with experience (in Photoshop using: Levels and Curves Adjustments, Layer Masks, and working in Channels) to restore photos that have been severely damaged by natural disasters back to the original picture.
Create Circles, is a nonprofit dedicated to engaging older adults and promoting brain health through meaningful conversation and activities. Interested volunteers can complete an application and watch a training video to be matched with a senior to provide virtual visits, which are especially critical during this time of physical distancing in preventing social isolation and promoting well-being.
IV. Additional Resources:
Visit the below sites to research additional ideas. Most of these sites have search functions to browse “remote” or “virtual” volunteer opportunities. When identifying opportunities, please be sure to follow all COVID-19 protection measures.
- All for Good, a service of Points of Light
- American Red Cross, Youth Virtual Engagement guide
- Business Volunteers Unlimited Resource Center (Cleveland), including its online volunteer database of local or virtual opportunities
- CCEL’s resource page of popular in-person service opportunities with student clubs or area nonprofits
- HandsOn Northeast Ohio volunteer calendar
- We Care For CLE, collaboration of Cleveland nonprofits to highlight ways to support the social sector during the COVID-19 pandemic
Important Note Regarding Opportunities:
Please note that the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning alerts students to a range of community-based opportunities—posted opportunities are a sampling of options, not endorsements. Students should independently research opportunities carefully to make sure the program is a good match for their interests. Additionally, posting of opportunities and events does not constitute an endorsement by Case Western Reserve University or CCEL of a particular political issue, candidate, political campaign, or election. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CCEL supports all measures to protect yourself and others by following state and national guidelines and restrictions. You can view CDC information and resources here.