We at the Center for Civic Leadership understand that physical distancing from each other during this time can leave us feeling anxious and disconnected. However, we’d like to remind you that keeping your distance and staying home is ultimately an act of solidarity — putting the needs of others and the wellbeing of other people above all else.
There are also many ways to remain engaged during this time. Many organizations are mobilizing to care for the most vulnerable, and there are opportunities for service for immediate needs. Other organizations offer virtual volunteering for activities not directly related to the pandemic. We have gathered a list of resources, service opportunities, and ways to stay creatively engaged through the many institutions that foster learning and connection for all of us.
Additionally, if you yourself are in need, please reach out to us so we can help connect you to resources and assistance where we can.
Thank you all for practicing social solidarity in this time of physical distancing.
List of Resources:
• CCL Partner Organizations Seeking Volunteers
• Websites for finding immediate needs service opportunities
• Political Engagement Opportunities
• Other Ways to Volunteer or Engage Virtually
• Ways to Stay Creatively Engaged
• Civic Engagement & COVID-19 Workshop
CCL Partner Organizations Seeking Volunteers
Our community partners have shared with us some distance and remote options for volunteering during this time. This list is updated and current, so please explore to see if there is something you might be able to help with. If so,contact that person directly using the contact information provided in the form.
Websites for finding immediate needs service opportunities
Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaboration
- Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaboration A living document of resources for immigrant advocates in Greater Houston. HILCS advocates for immigrant inclusion, equity, and justice by uniting and strengthening diverse allies, developing holistic immigration legal services, and supporting creative initiatives through principled, values-based collaboration.
Houston Database: HTX Covidsitters
- Houston Database: HTX Covidsitters Organized by students across the institutions of the Texas Medical Center, HTX COVID sitters' goal is to help those on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering household management and tutoring services.
- IDEALIST A database that helps you find ways to volunteer, donate, and lend a hand in your community and beyond.
- VolunteerMatch A database of virtual and on-site volunteer opportunities to aid communities impacted by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
United Way Houston Volunteer Opportunities Database
- United Way Houston Volunteer Opportunities Database Updated weekly, a list of Greater Houston area volunteer needs.
Houston Database: Crowd Source Rescue
- Houston Database: Crowd Source Rescue A Houston-based disaster response non-profit that is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with several TX food banks. They are currently organizing volunteers to help to do no-contact food deliveries to elderly residents in SE Texas.
Local food banks
- www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank Food banks will continue to distribute food, supplies, and other support for food-insecure families and individuals. During this time, many volunteers may not participate and donations may dry up. If you are able to do so, please consider (safely) supporting your local food bank.
- Houston Food Bank (NOT REMOTE)
- Blood Drive Blood banks are reporting steep drops in available blood supplies. If you are able (check requirements) consider donating blood to allow for live-saving medical treatments to occur.
- Red Cross Volunteer Opportunities - redcrosschat.org/digitalvolunteer and www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer/urgent-need-for-volunteers.html
Meals on Wheels
- Meals on wheels If you have reliable personal transportation and are able to drive, delivering meals through Meals on Wheels can help provide nutrition to those who need it.
Mutual Aid Networks
- Mutual aid networks are a way for community members to informally share resources, needs, and opportunities to assist. These grassroots components are highly malleable, adaptable, and often highlight needs that larger organizations may not be able to address, such as babysitting needs for medical professionals, grocery delivery for elderly neighbors, or other needs.
- www.htxcovidsitters.org/for-volunteers Students doing what we can to support healthcare workers on the frontlines caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ad-hoc volunteer group is comprised of students across the institutions of the Texas Medical Center.
Political Engagement Opportunities
2020 Census - Get Out The Count Video Challenge
- 2020 Census - Get Out The Count Video Challenge “Creative videos to share the importance of the 2020 Census. This prize challenge is a component of the U.S. Census Bureau’s innovation program called Census Accelerate. Census Accelerate brings together creative professionals, national advocacy organizations, and local leaders to develop community-driven content about the importance of the 2020 Census.”
- Turbovote If you have not already signed up to Turbovote to register and get notified of upcoming election information, now is an excellent time to do so. It is a free, useful service offered through Rice’s subscription.
Houston in Action
- Houston in Action Houston in Action is responding to COVID-19 by keeping people informed and protected from health risks, supporting Coronavirus education and volunteer efforts, and continuing to motivate people to complete the 2020 Census. HiA is the collective power of people and organizations throughout the Greater Houston area coming together to promote community leadership and break down systemic barriers to civic participation.
Freedom Summer 2020 - Info Sessions
• Fri, May 1, 10 - 10:30 AM (PT) - Register here
• Tue, May 12, 10 - 10:30 AM (PT) - Register here
• Wed, May 27, 1 - 1:30 PM (PT) - Register here
• Thur, June 11, 2 - 2:30 PM (PT) - Register here
• Fri, June 26, 10 - 10:30 AM (PT) - Register here
- Although the coronavirus pandemic has brought most voter outreach efforts across the country to a halt, Freedom Summer 2020 is continuing with a completely virtual format from July 6 – August 14. Building on the original Freedom Summer in Mississippi, this program will allow you to take one 3-unit class in social movements and learn how to organize, develop leadership, and help people get out to vote, and then participate in a second 3-unit field course in which you will put those learnings into practice by organizing low-wage workers to vote over the phone and using a voter app. Join students from around the country in learning social movement organizing skills while conducting non-partisan relational voter engagement with hundreds of thousands of unlikely voters from around the country. Students from all campuses are encouraged to apply.
Common Ground For Action Online Forums
- Common Ground For Action Online Forums In a Common Ground for Action online forum, you exchange views online with others in a nonpartisan, small-group discussion that is moderated and generally lasts about two hours.
Coming Attractions: Find out about Hidden Common Ground forums on key issues in the 2020 elections: In association with USA Today, Public Agenda, the Kettering Foundation, and the National Issues Forums, we’ll be hosting Common Ground for Action forums on key election issues in fall 2019 and up to the election in 2020. These will be non-partisan forums designed to help voters understand and think through some of the major campaign issues. Sign up to learn more about these forums as they are scheduled.
Texas Civic Ambassadors Program
- Texas Civic Ambassadors Program Applications are now open for the year-long civic education and leadership development program. In addition to countless skill-building and educational outreach opportunities, selected ambassadors will receive free admission to all 2020-2021 New Politics Forum events as well as the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. Texas Civic Ambassador Leadership Summit: August 13-16, 2020. All selected ambassadors for the 2020-2021 year will be sponsored to attend this four-day leadership summit in Austin. Food, housing, and transportation costs will be covered by the Annette Strauss Institute. Deadline to apply is July 7, 2020 - Apply here: Texas Civic Ambassadors Application
- Public Agenda Public Agenda is a nonpartisan engagement research and action group. Access polls, analysis, and activities to remain engaged (such as the Text, Talk, Engage initiative).
Campus Vote Project
- Campus Vote Project The Campus Vote Project has officially opened applications for a Student Advisory Board. They invite students who have played a role in expanding or deepening democratic engagement at their institution to apply for our Student Advisory Board. This leadership program provides opportunities for civically-minded and active students to influence Campus Vote Project, learn more about democratic engagement nationally, and develop relationships with peers, institutions, and civic leaders. Student advisory board members are also able to participate in a multi-day summit in Washington, DC, with other civic leaders (may be digital this year). Any student not graduating before May 2021 is eligible to apply by April 15th. You can view the informational flyer here, and any interested students can Apply Here.
Rock the Vote
- Rock the Vote Volunteer with Rock the Vote to organize for voter registration and voter turnout opportunities.
Youth for Climate
- Youth for Climate Priorities and initiatives for addressing climate change, developed through youth activism online and on the ground.
Other Ways to Volunteer or Engage Virtually
Student Opportunity Center
- Student Opportunity Center Use your Rice NetID to sign in to the SOC and search for “virtual” opportunities. There are many internships and other experiences available to you there.
You Will Rise Project
- You Will Rise Project “The power of art meets the strengths of community.” Currently, they are running a Get Well project for people afflicted with COVID19 -- #getwellworld: youwillriseproject.com/getwellworld
- Quarantine Chat “Once you sign up and choose your language preferences, you'll be subscribed to periodic calls. Your caller ID will always say "QuarantineChat" when your phone rings.After a brief moment on hold, you'll match with another random person. You don't have to pick up if you're busy—your partner will be automatically matched with someone else. And you can join and leave the line whenever you'd like. It's private. You use your phone number to sign up for Dialup, but your matches will only ever see your username. All calls are end-to-end encrypted. Once you sign up and choose your language preferences, you'll be subscribed to periodic calls. Your caller ID will always say "QuarantineChat" when your phone rings. After a brief moment on hold, you'll match with another random person. You don't have to pick up if you're busy—your partner will be automatically matched with someone else. And you can join and leave the line whenever you'd like. It's private. You use your phone number to sign up for Dialup, but your matches will only ever see your username. All calls are end-to-end encrypted.
Good Deeds Day
- Good Deeds Day Ideas and links for staying connected and making a difference during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Live Generously Virtual volunteering opportunities links and places to share your stories (and there’s a comfort dog picture and story).
- Do Something “A digital platforming powering real world impact. As the largest not-for-profit exclusively for young people and social change, DoSomething’s millions of members represent every US area code and 131 countries. Using our digital platform, DoSomething members join our volunteer, social change, and civic action campaigns to make real-world impact on causes they care about.”
The American Prison Writing Archive
- The American Prison Writing Archive “The mission of the APWA is to replace speculation on and misrepresentation of prisons, imprisoned people, and prison workers with first-person witness by those who live and work on the receiving end of American criminal justice. No single essay can tell us all that we need to know. But a mass-scale, national archive can begin to strip away widely circulated myths and replace them with some sense of the true human costs of the current legal order. By soliciting, preserving, digitizing and disseminating the work of imprisoned people, prison workers and volunteers, we hope to ground national debate on mass incarceration in the lived experience of those who know prisons best.” Volunteers transcribe hand-written documents in order to archive the writing in fully searchable and usable database.
- Amnesty Decoders “Amnesty Decoders is an innovative platform for volunteers around the world to use their computers or phones to help Amnesty International researchers sift through pictures, information and documents.”
- Zooniverse “People-powered research. The Zooniverse enables everyone to take part in real cutting edge research in many fields across the sciences, humanities, and more. The Zooniverse creates opportunities for you to unlock answers and contribute to real discoveries.”
Smithsonian Digital Archives
- Smithsonian Digital Archives "Digital Volunteers" can now take on important assignments to expand access to the Smithsonian's massive collections, and can participate in a variety of research programs.
- Project Gutenberg Digitizing books for open access through volunteer transcription.
Crisis Text Line
- Crisis Text Line With 30 hours of training, you can volunteer to respond on the crisis text line.
- CatchAFire This online database helps you identify virtual service activities, including letter-writing and graphic design.
- Volunteer Match VolunteerMatch is a universal platform strengthening the ethos and impact of volunteering at a massive scale. We create better ways to put time and talent to good use.
Ways to Stay Creatively Engaged
Explore US National Parks in 360
- Explore US National Parks in 360 Google Arts and Culture project lets you take virtual 360 degree tours through national parks..
Recreate Art for the Getty Museum
- Recreate Art for the Getty Museum The Getty Museum has challenged people to recreate famous art works with whatever they have access to in their homes.
Free Online Museum Tours
- Free Online Museum Tours Good Housekeeping has compiled a long list of museums, zoos, and theme parks that have virtual tours available for you to explore.
- Glasstire The entire Texas art scene accessible online through this site (founded by a Rice Alum, no less).
- Coursera If you are caught up on your Rice classes and want to supplement your learning with a course from the Modern Museum of Art or maybe Epidemiology from Imperial College London, you can do so for free on Coursera.
Free Online Music Lessons
- Free Online Music Lessons Springboard Blog has links to the best free online music lessons to keep you exploring your best self.
Rosetta Stone free for College Students
- Rosetta Stone free for College Students College students have free access to Rosetta Stone, a language learning software, for the next 3 months.