Volunteering Abroad

How Volunteering Can Help Offset College Costs

Harness your high school volunteering habit into real rewards on your college expenses.

As many of America’s 20.5 million college students would attest, education does not come cheap. But there may be a way that you can learn more about your community, gain valuable skills and potentially save money on your college tuition — simply by volunteering your time and effort.

Students who participate in volunteer projects throughout their high school careers are often able to receive better scholarships and other grants that support community engagement and activities. Consider the ways that volunteering could benefit you, your college costs and your future career.

How volunteering helps

When you have the chance to shine, your passion and success follows. Spending time at a local animal shelter, retirement community or hospital can earn you both experience and accolades on your college application.

If you have an idea of what you want to study at university, consider volunteer opportunities that can both diversify your experience and qualify for scholarships or grants that could ease your student loan burden.

Volunteering in college

Once you’ve started college, you may be able to find time for opportunities that give back to the community and make a difference to your financial bottom line.

For instance, if you’re already considering joining the military, you can set yourself up to cutting down on costs by joining the ROTC — or the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The ROTC helps you pay your college tuition while you serve your country. ROTC provides scholarships of up to $80,000 toward tuition and educational fees for students who enroll during college or in high school. It can also assist you along your career path, helping you excel and save on expenses throughout college.

And don’t underestimate the impact volunteering can have on your future employers. Volunteering can make you more hireable in an area of service that you’re passionate about, showing real commitment to your community. You’ll gain skills that are important when working with a team, getting to know the unique issues that people in your city face. You’ll be potentially working toward leadership positions, building skills that are highly prized by employers when deciding among new college grads.

But it doesn’t have to be just another tactic to fleshing out your resume. Volunteering for organizations within your major can provide experiences that dovetail with your studies, enriching what you’ve learned in the classroom, better preparing you for your chosen career.

What you can do after college

Whether you need to pay off student loans or pay for continued education at a reduced cost, post-college service opportunities abound.

AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a group of volunteers sent to locations around the US to teach, support at-risk communities and work within some of America’s poorest neighborhoods. AmeriCorps volunteers can receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award after fulfilling their term of service, which can be used for paying off student loans or advancing your education.

National Health Service Corps

If you’re pursuing a career in medicine, National Health Service Corp volunteers provide medical care to rural communities and communities that lack qualified health professionals. The NHSC offers scholarships for students who are still in medical school, and helps medical professionals who have already graduated pay off student loans after they’ve fulfilled their service term.

Peace Corps

The Peace Corps gives students a way to volunteer around the world while keeping an eye on graduate school. Volunteers can serve while pursuing a master’s degree program abroad and participate in the Coverdell Fellows Program, which provides financial assistance to volunteers who want to volunteer in the US. Just ensure you don’t lose out on the offset with high fees associated with moving money around while volunteering overseas, compare providers to find most cost effective options.

Consider student loans

Whether choosing to offset college through volunteering during or after college, keep in mind that while a huge expense, college is one that will pay off in the long run. To do this it helps to look ahead at the return your investment and work out whether the career you pick will support the level of debt you’ve accrued to get there. finder.com recently broke down the value of a student loan against potential future earnings based on LinkedIn’s Top 20 Highest Paying Jobs of 2017.

What we found is that it’s worthwhile to figure out whether your future career has a good return on investment — and that student loans can help ease some of the financial burden until you make good on that ROI.

Remember, it’s never too early — or too late — to start volunteering with a group or organization that you’re passionate about. You just might be able to both change your life and save money in the end.

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Written by Michelle Hutchison. Michelle is finder.com’s resident Money Expert and is passionate about helping Americans make better financial decisions. She has been in the financial services industry for over seven years and has previously worked as a journalist and editor.

Who is finder.com?

finder.com is a personal finance comparison website, which helps Americans compare financial products online so they can make better informed decisions. Visit finder.com to compare and learn about credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, international money transfers, life and travel insurance, shopping coupon codes, and so much more before choosing the option that best suits their needs.

Best of all, finder.com is completely free to use. We’re not a bank or insurer, nor are we owned by one, and we are not a product issuer or a credit provider. We’re not affiliated with any one institution or outlet, so it’s genuine advice from a team of experts who care about helping you find better.

 

November 2016 – Lion’s Heart’s Social Impact Amplified by Digital Strategy

LAGUNA HILLS, CA–(Marketwired – November 23, 2016) – Lion’s Heart, a national non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing teens to volunteer, continues its 2016 technology innovation push with the help of many ‘Tech for Good’ industry leaders.

Earlier this year, Lion’s Heart launched the Volunteer Digital Portfolio, a web- and mobile-based platform that tracks each volunteer’s community service impact from middle to high school. Each portfolio prominently highlights the student’s top causes, Presidential Volunteer Service and Lion’s Heart Awards, and leadership roles. It’s designed to be compatible with both the Common App and new college applications, and can be downloaded and shared with college admissions officers, prospective employers, and scholarship or internship sponsors.

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Throughout 2016, Lion’s Heart has worked with or received support from technology foundations and Corporate Social Responsibility programs within Atlassian, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Tableau. Taproot Foundation consultants have generously donated their talent and time to help the Lion’s Heart team maximize the impact of technology grants. Lion’s Heart plans to launch a new version of the Volunteer Digital Platform next year which will include location-based volunteer notifications and user-driven volunteer preferences. “We recognize the catalytic role technology plays in connecting and engaging teens with causes in need of their compassion and time,” said Terry Corwin, Founder and Executive Director of Lion’s Heart, “Our technology partners help us amplify our impact.”

About 70% of alumni Members utilized their experience with the organization on an employment or internship application. Additionally, 81% of the program’s alumni Members believed that Lion’s Heart was a positive factor in helping them get accepted into college. The new Volunteer Digital Portfolio offers volunteers a valuable tool to showcase their volunteer and leadership experience and utilize these accomplishments in their professional and academic pursuits.

Lion’s Heart currently has thousands of Members nationwide serving in over 81 cities and 17 states. Lion’s Heart Members have completed approximately 600,000 hours of community service since the organization’s inception in 2004. Lion’s Heart’s mission is to inspire teen volunteerism and cultivate a new generation of leaders dedicated to creating a positive social impact. In addition to providing Members with meaningful volunteer opportunities, Lion’s Heart also aims to prepare its volunteers for higher education and future careers.

About Lion’s Heart
Founded in 2004, Lion’s Heart is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit teen volunteer organization available to 7th through 12th grade students. The organization instills the value of community service in its Members, providing meaningful life skills through leadership opportunities and philanthropic experiences. Since Lion’s Heart’s founding, Members have performed approximately 600,000 volunteer hours, which equates to more than $12,000,000 in societal value. Corporations interested in supporting teen service learning through technology or other grants can visit www.LionsHeartService.org/CorporatePartners for additional information.

Lion’s Heart, headquartered in Southern California, has grown to more than 81 chapters across 17 states and is actively expanding its reach by regularly adding new chapters across the country. Groups have between three and twenty teens and are organized by gender, grade, and location. Though each group has a parent Class Coordinator, the Members elect their own officers, lead their own meetings, and decide how to serve their community – with no fundraising commitment. For more information, please visit the Lion’s Heart website or Facebook page.

We Love Our Summer Interns!

In May 2016, Lion’s Heart staff began interviewing twenty-six Lion’s Heart teen Members for a summer internship in the Laguna Hills, California, corporate offices. Each potential intern provided a writing sample telling a little about themselves and why they wanted the summer internship. All twenty-six came in for a face to face interview, for some, it was their first interview ever. The teens, ranging from thirteen to seventeen years old, were truly wonderful people with so many amazing talents. Some were nervous, some were confident. One even arrived in a suit and tie! We eventually selected six interns to spend their summer working in our office with our staff on a variety of interesting projects.

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“Our goal was to give the interns a glimpse of how our operations work while allowing them to have a rich and educational intern experience,” said Terry Corwin, Lion’s Heart Founder and Executive Director. “They have all been given a variety of assignments such as making videos to share on social media, writing blog posts, researching volunteer outreach programs, whiteboard sessions on ideas for marketing, auditing volunteer logs, and much more.”

Lion’s Heart is so thankful for all six of our volunteers; Madison, Taylor, Reese, Julia, Matt and Kevin. They worked tirelessly, never complained, and were so productive. In the past three months, Lion’s Heart Teen Volunteer interns amassed a whopping 182.5 volunteer hours and finished 11 large projects which included making a fun video on what they love about volunteering with Lion’s Heart, researching the civic 50 corporations, guest blogging, reaching out to parents, alumni, and non-profits, getting booths in high school events, and listing Lion’s Heart on all the community directories they could find. Our interns became part of our Lion’s Heart family and while we are sad to see them go, we wish them all the best on their journeys and we welcome them back anytime.

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We will be showcasing each of our interns on the blog and social media this week so keep checking back!

We look forward to selecting a new batch of interns from our fantastic Members next summer so if anyone is interested in joining us, keep an eye out for our email coming next spring!

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Ways to Volunteer Over Summer Break

With homework and extracurricular school activities finished for the year, what better time to get a variety volunteer activities and experiences under your belt?

Volunteering can lead to a hidden passion that you may want to pursue in college, it can give you a sense of community and belonging, and it can look great to those college admissions officers and employers!

With school out, summer is a prime time to earn some volunteer hours.

Here are some ideas to help in your community this summer:

  • Volunteer at the library. Most libraries provide reading programs for small children, they are always looking for volunteers.

  • Help at Relay for Life or another walk/run for charity.

  • Volunteer at a hospital or senior center, make some time to visit and entertain them. There is no doubt that they will appreciate it.

  • Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or food pantry to get supplies packed up and to serve food to the homeless.

  • Volunteer at an animal shelter. Walk the dogs, be a companion for the animals.

  • Donate some old toys, blankets, shoes and clothing to a homeless shelter.

  • Make homemade cards with your friends to send to soldiers overseas or to deliver to your local hospital’s children’s ward to cheer them up.

  • Help with a beach or park clean up.

  • Volunteer at a local summer camp

  • Volunteer to help get teachers classrooms ready for the new school year.

Summer just started and what better way to earn hours and enjoy your summer than to volunteer some of that down time to others in need.

Giving back to your community can not only help others but can make you feel REALLY good!

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Crossing the Border and Giving Back

Many teens who are a part of the Lion’s Heart volunteer organization have helped others in need by getting involved in their community in meaningful and fun ways. Most often these volunteer opportunities take place in the United States and are near the Lion’s Heart chapter areas. It’s important not to forget that giving back can affect communities and families off the grid and even in a different country. For example, I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and build a house for a family in need with the Corazon organization last summer. The members of Corazon emphasize that everyone can learn how to make a difference in someone’s life and that coming together as a team is one of the best ways for that to be accomplished. Having been a member of the San Clemente,CA. Girls Blue 2018 group for the past two years, I’ve learned how to work with others and create relationships with the new people I meet along the way. This journey to Mexico was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had and taught me many valuable lessons.

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I travelled to Tijuana with a group of determined volunteers to build a house in just one day! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve travelled to Mexico with my family, but last summer I wanted to give back to their wonderful community. The members of Corazon had informed our group that these houses are built for families who have given back to their communities for an extensive amount of time and have earned this gift. This task seemed overwhelming to us, but by working alongside the family that would receive this new house, we pushed forward and continued to work together. The family that received this home had two teenage boys who were very eager to join in and help the group. Their mother, a woman who did not speak any english, had prepared her own homemade tamales for the volunteers that contributed to the house. When the day was coming to a close, their mother expressed tears of joy as she saw her new home and thanked us for giving her and her sons a new place to live. It was incredible to see how the work that the volunteers and I had done would have such a lasting impact of this family.

Through this volunteer opportunity, I gained an amazing experience outside the country. I was exposed to seeing a group of people come together and help a family who had earned this incredible gift. Being a member of Lion’s Heart is a great opportunity for teens to reach out to others and take their leadership skills to communities much farther than those we have given back to before.

Written by Lion’s Heart Member and Summer Intern Reese Thomas, Member of San Clemente, CA Girls Blue 2018 Group.