CAP Volunteer Opportunities

Through Harvard

There are various volunteer opportunities being coordinated by student organizations. To participate in these opportunities, please contact the student organizations directly, as CAP is not the sponsor of these activities.

Philips Brooks House Association

Philips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is comprised of more than 85 programs, with over 1400 volunteers participating in a wide range of service activities.  PBHA’s dual mission is to grow public service leaders while providing vital resources to local communities. Student leaders guide PBHA’s daily operations and long-term vision, designing and running all PBHA programs and overseeing the management of the organization.  Students work closely with community members and constituents to ensure that PBHA’s programs meet genuine community needs. See for a full list of PBHA’s programs.

Y2Y Harvard Square

Volunteer your time or your expertise to help young adults experiencing homelessnessY2Y is a student-run overnight shelter that employs a youth-to-youth model to provide a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness. Y2Y has a number of different volunteering opportunities. The shelter is run primarily by student volunteers and Cambridge community members. As a regular volunteer, you will sign up for a weekly shift and are responsible for attending that shift every week.

  • Breakfast (6:30-9:00 AM): Come in bright and early to greet our guests! Breakfast volunteers, arriving between 6am and 6:30am (except on Saturdays when they arrive an hour later), help make breakfast and clean the shelter (an invaluable service!) after all the guests leave at 8:00.
  • Dinner (6:45-9:15 PM): You’ll be cooking and serving dinner, talking with guests, and perhaps making a food pick-up run from one of the many shops that donate to us.
  • Evening (9:00-11:15 PM): On the evening shift, help is often needed in the kitchen to clean up after dinner. This is also a relaxed time to visit with guests as they prepare for bed.
  • Overnight (11:00 PM-9:00 AM): You’ll hang out with other volunteers and night-owl guests, basically hold more good conversations, view movies, wash laundry, read, bake cookies, and more! This is a fantastic shift because it’s a rare opportunity to have long conversations and get to know people well. Don’t worry: we do take turns sleeping — the night is typically divided into three sub-shifts and you will be asleep for two of them (there is a staff room with beds, so you’ll be able to sleep 5-6 hours when it is not your turn to be awake.

The shelter is open every single day from October 15th to April 15th and the operating season is broken down into two parts: Fall (October 15th-February 12th) and Spring (February 12th-April 15th). For a one-time volunteering opportunity, it is also possible to get involved in a monthly deep clean of the shelter.  Please email Danny at if you would like more information.

Harvard College Children’s Stories

Create books for children in orphanages.  Harvard College Children’s Stories (HCCS and formerly Harvard College Stories for Orphans), coordinates students’ interests in creative writing, drawing, and foreign languages for the benefit of under served children both within the United States and abroad. Each semester, the group partners with a different organization that helps to serve a group of disadvantage children and these organizations range from homeless shelters to a child refugee programs.  HCCS aims to remind each child that he or she is special while also encouraging an early love of reading for the child. By giving them their own personalized hand-made books, it is their hope that the children will discover in them not only a whimsical story-line, but also a sense of individuality and worth.

The ideal time-commitment averages out to be about 2hr/week for a full semester. Interest can be expressed by reaching out to At the start of each semester we have applications to be either a writer or illustrator (or both) for a book. We usually have more applications than children from the organization, so we also offer people spots on our “production team” which is a commitment that comes at the end of the semester involving final assembly and layout of the books. While not everyone can write every semester, we always hope to find a spot to contribute in our group.


Through Community Organizations

Below is a limited list of children’s volunteer opportunities which may be of interest to Harvard Law School students. Please note that CAP is not coordinating these opportunities and has had, in some cases, only limited contact with the coordinating organizations. This is not intended as an exhaustive list of interesting volunteer opportunities.


Volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mass Bay. Develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.  As a Community Big Brother or Big Sister, you’ll meet with your Little for a few hours a couple times a month for at least a year wherever and whenever is convenient for you both. As a Site-Based Big, you’ll create a one-to-one friendship with a student at a local Elementary School. Watch our video, Add a Little.  For more information on how to become a Big, contact Jay Cronin at

Volunteer to tutor a middle school student. Do you have one hour a week to help a middle school student in the Cambridge Public Schools? Tutors help 6th, 7th and 8th grade students with homework, support and mentoring in weekly after school Learning Centers. Learning Centers meet after school from 3 to 4:15pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays and volunteers choose one day to help. Locations are accessible by public transportation. CSV staff are present to support student and tutor pairs in the weekly sessions. Cambridge School Volunteers provides orientation and training for new Learning Center volunteers. For more information on how to get started as a math tutor, please email Kasey Appleman at You can learn more at

“Less jail. More Future.” Mentor young men and young mothers.  Roca works to disrupt incarceration and poverty by helping young people transform their lives.  We welcome volunteers (with a regular or one-off commitment ability) who can mentor and connect with the young people we serve through activities like tutoring in HiSET/GED or ESL, assisting in parenting courses, or supporting fitness and nutrition education, as just a few examples.  If you would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer at Roca, contact Martha Gray at

Mentor an immigrant high school student. Enroot (formerly known as Cambridge Community Services and City Links) is a community-based nonprofit with a mission to empower immigrant youth to achieve academic, career, and personal success through inspiring out-of-school experiences. Complete a mentor application form. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Alex at

Become a Special Education Surrogate Parent. Youth in the care or custody of the Commonwealth who are placed out of foster care into group homes or residential schools are an especially vulnerable subset of children.  Those youth who are eligible for special education services require someone to attend school team meetings, advocate for special education supports, and approve or reject Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), but they often do not have an adult in their lives to take on these responsibilites. The Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC) at the Federation for Children with Special Needs recruits and trains volunteers to become Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs). SESPs are appointed students in state custody who require special education services, and they have the legal rights of a parent when it comes to special education decisions.  For more information about the program and to become a volunteer, visit the RTSC website:

Become a mentor for a child in out of home care. Silver Lining Mentoring prepares children in adoption, foster care, and/or similar situations to become emotionally and socially well-adjusted adults who can define and achieve personal success. Silver Lining Mentoring has a variety of volunteer opportunities available for those who would like to contribute towards making a difference in the life of youth in out-of-home care. Volunteers work on projects such as: activities planning for our mentor matches, research/evaluation, grant writing, human resources, and more. Currently, all Silver Lining Mentoring volunteer opportunities require a 1 year commitment and with an average time commitment of 8-10 hours per month. For further information and to find out about upcoming information sessions, email Brian at or call 617-391-9066.

Mentor, coach or tutor youth at a local Cambridge Youth Center. The City of Cambridge supports five youth centers across the city. Volunteer at the Area IV Youth Center on Harvard Street which serves youth aged 9 – 19. The center provides area young people enrichment opportunities including academic support, recreational activities, and mentorship. For more information, call 617-349-6262.

If you would like to discuss any of these volunteer opportunities with us further, email