Information for Non-Profits

Our mission is to make it both quicker and easier for non-profits such as yours to get the word out about upcoming volunteer opportunities for high school students.

We are currently accepting new information via email for immediate placement on our website, while working behind the scenes to develop form-based input. Soon (within 4-6 weeks) your organization will be able to directly add to and edit information found on our website, which we explain in detail below. If you submit your information now, we will enter that information into our database for you and provide you with form-based access later, once it has been throughly tested and made available.

When we are finished setting up our website, there will be 4 ways for a student to get information about your organization:

1. Directly, via the Profiles section;
2. Indirectly, through a link on the Categories section;
3. From the Calendar of Events, for those searching by date; and
4. Via the search page.

How It Will Work

Each non-profit gets its own individual Profile page, which contains general information about the organization. In addition, each non-profit will have access to an Events form, where it can provide a list of upcoming volunteer activities to appear in both the Calendar section and in the right column of the Profile.

Each individual Profile page will be password-protected; entering the organization's ID and password will allow the organization's Administrator to pull up the Profile form and make additions or changes as needed. The organization's Administrator will also be able to pull up the Events form and make additions or changes as needed.

Each Administrator will be able to create User accounts with separate passwords, which only allow for more limited access. Generally, a User account will be issued to a volunteer coordinator active only at a given location or only handling a specific type of event. The User will be able to add and modify the Events database (or a designated subset of the Events database), but not the Profile page.

The Non-Profit Profile

We've received and entered a couple of non-profit profiles, which you can find through the following direct links:

Chicago Area Runners Association
Friends of the Forest Preserves

These profile pages should give you a sense of how your page will look and what sort of information to include. Here's a general list:

- Overview of your organization
- What Volunteers Do
- What to Bring
- Directions to Each Site
- Restrictions, if any
- Create your Own Group Activity
- Other Information of Your Choosing
- Contact Information

Feel free to skip any sections on this list that don't suit your organization and to add any new ones you see as being important. Our database is being set up to suppress any topic headline when the topic field is left blank.

Write as much as you feel will be useful to draw the interest of our student readers. We can use up to 3 pictures, two of which will appear on your profile page and one of which will appear on the category page. The category page will be an overview of all organizations that share a related goal. Some examples might be Nature, Libraries, Senior Care and Animal Shelters; each category will include direct links to the profiles of individual non-profits for further reading.

The Events Database

The Events database presents a concise summary of upcoming events, including such basic information as date and time, location and specific contact person. These events will appear in our Calendar section in the appropriate month, merged with all other events taking place during that month; in addition, your organization's next 6-8 upcoming events will appear in the right-most column of your profile page.

Events will automatically be suppressed from appearing on the website after the day of the event. However, your organization may wish to edit a given Event as being full, or removing it altogether, should you reach volunteer capacity before the day of the event.

The planned structure of the Events information supplied will be as follows:
- Date of Event
- Name of Organization (will be filled in automatically)
- Name of Event
- Hours of Event
- Exact location of Event
- Zip code of Event location (for proximity search)
- Volunteer job title or brief description
- Number of volunteers still needed
- Restrictions, if any
- Contact person
- Contact phone
- Contact email
- Link to Profile for more details (will be filled in automatically)

Fields listed above that are not filled in will be suppressed, so if there are no restrictions or the contact person does not have email contact, simply skip those fields.

Fields within the Events database may be restricted in length to keep the Calendar pages manageable in size. Extensive details can be located on the Profiles page and referenced in the Events section by a title or abbreviated description. For example, the exact location field could simply say "Dan Ryan Woods" while the Profiles pages gives specific directions on how to get to the Dan Ryan Woods meeting location. As another example, volunteer descriptions can be given titles which are then described in greater detail on the Profile page

Feel free to email us with any questions or comments.

Does Your Organization Qualify?

The Chicago Public School system provides guidelines on what sorts of activities are acceptable for students seeking service learning credit. In addition, individual schools or individual counselors within those schools may have tighter restrictions than the general ones issued by the central administration.

We currently wish to only list those activities which are acceptable for earning students service learning credit hours. In general, services provided by non-profit organizations which involve direct service to the community should always be acceptable. Back-office support services for non-profits may or may not be acceptable; we are willing to list such activities, as long as they are posted with a "restrictions" disclaimer that interested students should check with their counselors for approval before accepting such projects.

In addition, either the non-profit organization or the event itself must be located within Chicago city limits. The events must be within the greater Chicago area in any case; overseas summer placements do not qualify for service learning credit.

Students may not earn credit for:

- Work with for-profit businesses and corporations, or for work that is financially reimbursed
- Religious organizations, if the service involves proselytizing
- Volunteer work where no academic objective is addressed; as a practical matter, this means the project leader needs to spend at least a few moments teaching the volunteers about the community benefits of the volunteer work that is being undertaken.

General humanitarian work done by religious organizations are acceptable, which includes such activities as running food pantries, soup kitchens and tutoring programs. Volunteer work with a religious component is not accepted.

Artistic performances are only acceptable when students use them within the context of a community service project. In other words, plays, musicals, arts and crafts and similar projects are acceptable when done to teach or entertain community members resident in hospitals, nursing homes or similar locations.

Students may not earn hours for the following specific activities:

- Volunteer work with a political campaign, without the mediation of an approved community organization or classroom instructor
- Participation in a sports team or other extra-curricular activity unless that group designs a Service Learning project with an educational component
- Assisting a teacher (i.e. correcting papers, cleaning the classroom) unless tied to a teacher preparation program (Future Teachers of Illinois/Chicago)
- Attending a training or other educational event unless that training leads directly to a service project.

In general, one can summarize the above restrictions by recognizing that an acceptable service learning project needs to include an actual learning component which emphasizes the community-wide benefits of participation.

More information can be found on the CPS Service Learning website: