We’ll be returning to regular articles next week! In the interim, this is a wonderful discussion of how a volunteer project/organization can grow. Watch the video, or read the short writeup below. The video is 25 minutes, but highly entertaining and informative.

Dave Eggers, a writer, heard a lot about the challenges of teaching in city schools from his teaching family and friends. In particular, they stressed the need for one-on-one attention to help students with their English and writing skills.

Eggers and his colleagues came together to create a unique tutoring center in San Francisco – located in a pirate supply store and connected to a magazine editing office – that offers free one-on-one tutoring. The project has grown to help thousands of kids each week, host daily writing field trips, run an in-school writing lab, and guide students in writing and publishing books. The tutoring center model has been replicated in Brooklyn, L.A., and other cities in the U.S.

The volunteer core has likewise grown, starting with 12 and quickly growing to 1,400.

This project has led to a website, Once Upon A School, which challenges and guides individuals and groups in to engage with their local public schools and create positive change.

“It can be fun. That’s the point of this talk – it needn’t be sterile. It needn’t be bureaucratically untenable. You can do and use the skills that you have. The schools need you. The teachers need you. Students and parents need you. They need your actual person. Your physical personhood and your open minds and open ears and boundless compassion. Sitting next to them, listening and nodding and asking questions… Some of these kids just don’t plain know how good they are. How smart and how much they have to say. You can tell them. You can shine that light on them one human interaction at a time. So we hope you’ll join us.”

For more information on projects to support your local public school, check out: http://onceuponaschool.org/

For more TEDtalks, check out: http://www.ted.com/index.php

Know a great volunteer or volunteer organization? Leave me a comment or email me through this link to let me know!