How to find a local non-profit?
January 5, 2010 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for a local non-profit in D.C., Chicago, Boston, or NYC that would be willing to work with me on a research project that my university will hopefully fund. Any help would be appreciated.

The application for my grant is due at the end of February. I have been looking at various non-profits on Idealist and through various google searches, and have up pretty empty-handed in terms of finding good, reputable local groups that would be willing to have me.
This grant is meant to fund research (think: social engagement, not hard data) that would benefit the non-profit I would work with. The non-profit has to be connected in some way, then, to the research I’d be doing.

So, my questions are:

1. Do you know of any solid, local non-profits that are a great asset to their communities, and wouldn’t mind a college student tagging along for the summer? I am interested primarily in the area of poverty/hunger prevention, but I am willing to consider any project that sounds interesting and where I could reasonably help. If you know of a great group that isn’t in one of the cities I mentioned above, I would certainly be willing to consider it.

2. What types of projects could a college student actually make a difference with? Going door to door handing out surveys? Interviewing people? I’d rather not sit at a computer filling out excel spreadsheets all summer. I do that for my job anyway and I’d rather not spend my time doing more of that. Obviously, data entry is important to an organization, but I don’t want to submit a grant proposal to enter data. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you for your time! Please feel free to memail me, especially if you could help me brainstorm more in depth.
posted by pecknpah to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Bread for the City in DC. They're a wonderful organization that provides comprehensive services to low-income residents of the city. They're quite receptive to creative ideas and projects from their volunteers.
posted by fancypants at 8:59 AM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: You might try contacting Greater DC Cares. It's an organization that connects volunteers with non-profits, and they would likely have an idea about which organizations to contact within the DC area.
posted by mcroft at 9:11 AM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: somerville, ma, is right next to boston. the community action agency of somerville does good work. they're small and local, so you might have a bigger impact there than at a larger group.

disclaimer: i fund them and have done things with them in the past but not in a few years
posted by rmd1023 at 9:37 AM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: Project Bread is a statewide org in MA with headquarters in East Boston. They have a Communications internship available so it seems they make use of college students. They have a food source hotline that seems like it's probably staffed by some number of volunteers.
posted by zizzle at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: The LAYC is a solid local non-profit in DC that is a great asset to its community. I can't imagine they'd mind a college student tagging along with them for the summer, if they're not expected to pay you, but I can't speak for them, so please check with them directly. I'm just here to mention them as a worthy organization, with a lot of great people working for them.
posted by sa3z at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: Check out LIFT (formerly NSP, National Student Partnerships, they just rebranded). National office is in DC, there are local offices elsewhere. From their facebook page,

"LIFT recruits and trains a diverse corps of undergraduates who make a rigorous and sustained commitment to service while in school. Our student advocates work side-by-side with low-income community members, first helping them address immediate needs (e.g. employment, housing, health care, public benefits, and/or education), then providing comprehensive, long-term support designed to help families break the cycle of poverty.

Simultaneously, our student leaders gain the direct exposure, insight, and compassion necessary to be lifelong advocates for systemic change on poverty policy, regardless of the professional path they ultimately pursue. Our local LIFT offices collaborate with a comprehensive network of social service agencies to guarantee a meaningful client experience and to prevent duplication of community efforts.

Since its inception in 1998, over 5,000 student advocates have helped more than 30,000 individuals and their families on a path out of poverty."

I'd be happy to connect you with a project manager, mefi me if you're interested. (I donate to LIFT and volunteered with them in college.)
posted by teragram at 12:02 PM on January 5, 2010

...mefi me? no, mail me...le sigh, back to the coffee...
posted by teragram at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: I've volunteered for Bread for the City and they make a huge contribution to DC, more than any other nonprofit agency does. I also recommend Feeding America. Just call their internship coordinator and tell them what you want to do, and it should be okay with them. Nonprofits are always looking for volunteers and free help.
posted by anniecat at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for your help, everybody. All your answers were extremely helpful.
posted by pecknpah at 4:59 PM on January 5, 2010

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