Volunteer Centers of Washington

Youth Engagement

Youth Engagement

Youth Engagement

If you are a young person wondering where and how to volunteer, or if you belong to an organization – school or nonprofit – that wants to work more effectively with youth volunteers, the Volunteer Centers of Washington are a great place to start. All member volunteer centers include youth opportunities; many offer special programs for school districts that seek to encourage and organize youth volunteering.  This site offers tips and best practices, downloadable templates and forms, and recommendations for more information.

Why Teen Volunteering in Washington?

House Bill 1412, signed into law in 2013, requires Washington school districts to adopt policies that provide incentives for students to participate in community service.  The bill allows individual school districts to define "community service”, how many hours are required and how those hours are tracked. At the time of the bill’s enactment, at least 20 Washington school districts mandated that students perform 10 to 100 hours of community service in order to graduate.

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Youth Volunteer Figures and Statistics

If you think the state law means high school students are brow-beaten into volunteering, look again.  A 2012 study of youth by DoSomething.org found that 63% of young volunteers did so with no requirement. In Snohomish County, where volunteering is required for graduation, fewer than one in five in the Teen Leadership Council program said they volunteered because of the school requirement.  (See chart below, courtesy of United Way of Snohomish County.)

Volunteering as a youth affects important work-related and social outcomes by strengthening work values and the sense of importance of community involvement. It has also been shown that the best predictors of adult involvement were the subjects’ experiences in volunteering before the age of 18.  Adults who were active in social justice issues tend to have participated in service projects as children and/or teenagers. To read more about this research, see:

Kirkpatrick Johnson, M., Beebe, T., Mortimer, Jl, and Snyder, M. “Volunteerism in Adolescence: A Process Perspective” Journal of Research on Adolescence, Volume 8, Issue 3, 1998, pages 309-332

Benson, P. L. & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (1993). Beyond Leaf Raking: Learning to Serve/Serving to Learn. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.