Whether you need to complete a school requirement or are just looking to spice up your college applications and resumes, volunteering is a huge part of the middle and high school experience. However, in COVID-19 times, finding in-person volunteering opportunities has become very difficult. A reasonable alternative? Virtual volunteering! You can complete your hours anytime, anywhere, according to your own schedule. Below are three great virtual volunteering opportunities for teenagers!
Zooniverse is an online platform, specializing in science-based volunteering through transcription and editing. For example, you could be assigned to a project digitizing marine organism classification cards, or transcripting research vessel records from the 19th century. There’s no shortage of projects available! You can find them at https://www.zooniverse.org/
2. Amnesty Decoders
Amnesty Decoders is an offshoot branch of Amnesty International. The platform utilizes citizen volunteers (like you!) to analyze images, scan text blocks, or sift through documents to find, track, and report occurrences, like harassment, that impinge on people’s human rights. You may also be assigned a research or categorizing role. For example, you could examine pictures of New York City intersections and flag all the cameras you see, so Amnesty can better understand how new facial recognition and camera technology impacts marginalized communities. Amnesty Decoders does not currently have any projects open to volunteers, but you can subscribe to their mailing list to be notified of upcoming projects. You can find them at https://decoders.amnesty.org/
3. Smithsonian Transcription Center
The Smithsonian Transcription Center is another great volunteer option. It also utilizes citizen volunteers to make transcriptions of otherwise illegible documents and recordings in the Smithsonian Archive, in order to make them easier for people with disabilities and impairments to access. For example, you could be in charge of transcripting letters from Charles Perrault to Anne Tapissier, discussing an upcoming art exhibition at the Château de Nemours. To ensure all transcriptions are as accurate as possible, multiple volunteers can work at once on the same page or item, and all transcriptions must be reviewed by a peer. The documents are very interesting to read through! You can find the center at https://transcription.si.edu/