Find Your Cause: Where to Volunteer in Chicago

Find Your Cause: Where to Volunteer in Chicago


Many of us are lucky enough to have the time, talents or finances to help those in need. Chicago is an incredibly diverse city with many people in need of support. There is an impressive array of organizations – non-profits, volunteer centers and auxiliary boards – that provide value to Chicago citizens.


Chicago Cares, one of the organizations that facilitates volunteer opportunities throughout the year, hosted over 50 groups looking for support in the Find Your Cause event on October 21. Chicago Cares offers 250 volunteer opportunities every single month at Give back this year by lending your time, energy and talents to one (or more!) of these respected groups. No matter what you are interested in, there is an opportunity that fits you – as you’re looking for volunteering in Chicago.



Find Your Cause

If you are interested in … health and fitness


  • Cooking Matters – EverThrive Illinois – Love to plan and cook healthy meals? Help Chicago families do the same through culinary classes, teaching healthy meal planning, food preparation and nutrition information. In partnership with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, Cooking Matters focuses on ending childhood hunger and empowering families to eat healthy on a limited budget. Volunteer opportunities include leading classes, grocery store tours, setup/cleanup and more. To learn more, call 312-491-8161.
  • Urban Initiatives – Love playing or coaching soccer? Urban Initiatives’ “Work to Play” program brings together kids in grades K-4 to play soccer, as a reward for work well done at school. The program is designed to build accountability, character and healthy habits. Volunteer as a coach for two practices and one game a week through the school year – contact to learn more and sign up. Attend their annual Soccer Ball Benefit on January 23, 2015 to benefit their sports-based youth development programs.



If you are interested in … art, music and performing arts


  • All Stars Project of Chicago – Bring joy to the youth of Chicago’s south and west sides through hip-hop talent shows in community centers and school auditoriums. Kids aged 5-25 have the opportunity to define and develop talents singing, dancing or producing talent shows where they interact positively with peers and adults. Volunteer opportunities include audition, talent show and special event support, as well as coaching students to prepare for summer internships. Schedules are flexible and there is no minimum volunteer requirement. For more information about volunteering call 312-360-0660.
  • Green Star Movement – Designed to inspire students and community members as well as beautify urban spaces, Green Star Movement facilitates the design and creation of public art and murals. Working with schools that cannot afford educational arts-based programming, the group brings students together to design and build public murals, encouraging teamwork and fostering self-esteem. Volunteer opportunities include supporting programming running during or immediately following the school day, but volunteers are welcome anytime. Contact to learn more.
  • Woman Made Gallery – The non-profit art gallery, located at 685 N. Milwaukee, supports and features the work of female artists. Providing a positive environment for under-represented artists, the gallery hosts not only physical artwork but also poetry readings, film screenings and panel discussions. In their 23-year history, the Woman Made Gallery has exhibited work from over 7000 women. Volunteer opportunities include maintaining the galleries, assisting with special events and packaging artwork. A special program called 20 Neighborhoods brings together women from all over the city to provide art education and opportunities to create and exhibit art.



If you are interested in … career search and preparation


  • Inspiration Corporation – Promoting self-sufficiency within individuals impacted by homelessness or poverty, Inspiration Corporation provides housing, social services and employment services. Volunteers support individuals who may have been out of the workforce for decades, helping them with resume preparation, goal setting, mock interviewing and job searching. After attending an orientation, volunteers have many opportunities to choose from on an events calendar, including those in partnership with Inspiration Kitchens (including meal prep and serving). To learn more click here.
  • Upwardly Global – Support work-authorized, highly skilled immigrants to find work opportunities that match their talents through Upwardly Global. As a volunteer, you can build your professional, leadership and coaching skills by helping immigrants understand US workplace cultural expectations, how to interview and how to find the right position. Volunteers are prepped with templates, strategies and tips. There is no minimum time requirement. To learn more call 312-431-1923.



If you are interested in … youth development and tutoring


  • Chicago LightsA non-profit run through the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago Lights supports economically disadvantaged children through tutoring, education and literacy programs. Serving 400 children each year, volunteers commit to one-on-one tutoring/mentoring for the school year (with the same student on the same evening each week). For a smaller time commitment, volunteers can also help students, from 1st grade through 12th grade, by being substitute tutors, filling in when convenient for your schedule. Tutoring is run at the Gratz Center at Fourth Presbyterian Church, conveniently located at 126 E. Chestnut (off of Michigan Avenue). Attend the Glow Associates Board gala on November 8, 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. To learn more about volunteering call 312-981-3381.
  • Chicago HOPES for KidsProvide after-school tutoring support for children living in homeless shelters, in Uptown, Lakeview, Back of the Yards or Little Village. The program is unique in that volunteers actually provide support within the homeless shelters, helping with homework, math and reading support and cultural enrichment. Volunteers are asked to commit to one 2-hour tutoring session a week through the semester. To sign up, click here.



If you are interested in … disaster response efforts


  • American Red CrossSupport victims of home fires or other disasters through American Red Cross. Relief support includes shelter, food, emotional support, health services and more for thousands of people impacted by disasters each year, not only immediately following a disaster but also during the following weeks and months of recovery. To learn more about volunteer opportunities call 312-729-6222.



If you are interested in … networking with other like-minded professionals


  • Young Nonprofit Professionals NetworkYNPN brings young professionals together to help maximize their impact on social change through charitable and philanthropic efforts. Making nonprofit support and volunteering more accessible through networking events, social gatherings, discussions and more, YNPN is looking for members, volunteers and executive board members. To learn more contact
  • United Way Young Leaders SocietyThe Young Leaders Society brings together young professionals across the city to participate in networking, fundraising and volunteer opportunities. Benefit from personal and professional growth by getting involved as a member or on the executive committee. Membership does have an annual donation requirement of $250. To learn more call 312-906-2248.



If you are interested in … joining and auxiliary or executive board


  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital Auxiliary BoardJoin a group of young professionals and community leaders who raise funds to support innovative research programs at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Money raised is given as “seed money” to hospital programs and research initiatives such as bone marrow transplant, heart failure prevention and the brain tumor institute. To learn more about becoming a member or supporter of the Auxiliary Board, call 312-926-7133.
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra Overture Council – Have the opportunity to meet artists, attend concerts, volunteer and attend social gatherings with the Overture Council. Support a love for music in Chicago with over 100 young professionals. To learn more call 312-294-3198.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago Evening Associates – Gather once a month with young professionals to learn more about the museum, attend happy hours and help run After Dark and other special events. Evening Associates help raise art awareness and funds to support the museum and enjoy exclusive benefits such as VIP events and behind-the-scenes access to exhibits. To learn more call 312-443-3710.