Top Post Graduate Volunteer Opportunities

Three students picking up plastic bottles at the beach

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Prior to embarking upon their career journey, many college graduates decide to take a gap year to serve others, enhance personal growth, and/or explore different cultures and geographic locations.

Key Takeaways

  • Volunteering could help you give back to the community while helping you as well
  • Volunteering could enhance personal growth, and/or explore different cultures and geographic locations.
  • Volunteering could also help develop skills such as leadership and teamwork that could come in handy for your career
  • Some volunteer opportunities may offer benefits such as a stipend, health insurance and student loan benefits.

Why Volunteer?

Volunteer service doesn't just help you give back to the community and become a part of something bigger, it can also help graduate students develop skills and contacts that can serve them well in their ultimate career. You can gain exposure to a specific subject area while also practicing skills such as leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking.

Volunteer opportunities come in many forms with key differences in costs and benefits.


AmeriCorps is a huge umbrella organization encompasses scores of agencies and thousands of opportunities. Volunteers work in a broad spectrum of public service sectors including community development, children and youth, education, environment, health, homelessness, housing, hunger, and eldercare. There is no fee for participating in these programs.

AmeriCorps volunteers receive a stipend to cover living expenses, health coverage, and an education award at the end of service, which can help repay loans or fund future studies. They may be able to defer student loan payments as well.

Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is a branch of the U.S government which engages volunteers in international service projects. Volunteers work in areas like agriculture, health, youth and community development, education, HIV/AIDS, the environment, and food security. Participants perform service in Asia, Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Mexico, and the Pacific Islands.


Peace Corps volunteers must commit to 27 months of service, though they receive two days of vacation per month of service and many participants return home or travel internationally during their term of service.

There are no fees to participate and volunteers receive a living allowance, medical/dental coverage, travel to and from their volunteer site, deferment/cancellation of some loans, and a transition award of more than $10,000 after completing their service.

City Year

City Year operates educational support programs in over 29 cities nationwide. Corp members sign on for 11 months during which they provide one-on-one or small group tutoring before, during, and after school to children in third through ninth grade. Volunteers also lead and organize after-school activities, celebrations, and projects to improve the community and school environment.

There are no fees to participate. Volunteers receive a stipend to help cover living expenses and an education award of nearly $5,000 at the end of their experience to repay loans or fund future educational endeavors. Health insurance, federal loan deferment, and childcare coverage are also provided.

The Student Conservation Association

The Student Conservation Association through its internship program and Conservation Corps engages volunteers for three to ten months in hands-on conservation projects in all 50 states. Corps members work on critical environmental issues such as wildfire management and education, trail restoration and maintenance, environmental education, and invasive species eradication. Volunteers receive a stipend, education award, housing (in most cases), and medical coverage for longer-term assignments.

The Catholic Volunteer Network

The Catholic Volunteer Network is a non-profit clearinghouse for domestic and a few international Catholic volunteer organizations. Many placements provide a stipend, housing, and health coverage.The search page enables users to identify programs by service focus, geographic area, and factors like whether housing, stipends, and health coverage are provided.

Match Corps

Match Corps is a full-time residential fellows program affiliated with AmeriCorps in which participants tutor elementary, middle, or high school students at public charter schools in the Boston area. Volunteers conduct one-on-one and small group tutoring, supervise extracurricular activities, coach sports, and serve as teaching assistants to outstanding classroom teachers. Most of the students are a high need, low-income youth who otherwise would likely not go to college. Match Corps fellows receive housing and $27,000 in living allowance.


EarthCorps, also affiliated with AmeriCorps, enlists members to complete environmental restoration projects in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Projects can include stream and salmon habitat restoration, erosion control, invasive plant removal, native plant installation, trail construction and maintenance, and volunteer management. Volunteers receive a modest stipend.

Teach for America

Teach for America recruits college graduates who have not completed teacher-training programs to teach in under-resourced schools with significant populations of socio-economically disadvantaged students. Participants take part in an intensive summer institute to learn teaching methodology and engage in ongoing training as they complete a two-year teaching assignment. Recruits receive compensation and benefits consistent with teachers in their district . For example, a teacher in New York can earn  $46,000-$70,000 depending on their teaching assignment and prior experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you find volunteer opportunities?

You could look for volunteer opportunities by researching organizations that work in the areas that you're passionate about. You could also consider looking for volunteer opportunities through your school, through job-search websites or even the Idealist Database.

What questions to ask about volunteer opportunities?

While you should do your research before you apply for a volunteer position, its always a good idea to ask questions and clarify what the organization actually does and what you will be doing. You could also find out about any travel or benefits that come with the job.

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  1. AmeriCorps. "Find Your Best Fit."

  2. AmeriCorps. "VISTA Benefits."

  3. Peace Corps. "What Volunteers Do."

  4. Peace Corps. "Can Peace Corps Volunteers travel during service?"

  5. Peace Corps. "Volunteering and Retirement."

  6. Peace Corps. "Benefits."

  7. City Year. "About."

  8. City Year. "Frequently Asked Questions."

  9. City Year. "Compensation."

  10. Student Conservation Association. "About US."

  11. Student Conservation Association. "What We Do."

  12. Student Conservation Association. "Are SCA internships paid?"

  13. Catholic Volunteer Network. "The Benefits of Faith-Based Service."

  14. Match Corps. "Match Corps."

  15. EarthCorps. "Corps Program Frequntly Asked Questions (FAQs)"

  16. Teach For America New York. "Cost of Living & Benefits."

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