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11 Summer Volunteer Programs for Middle School Students

If you're a middle school student looking for ways to spend your summer engaging in meaningful activities, consider participating in a volunteer program!

Volunteering for an organization will allow you to work on real-world problems, meet like-minded people, explore new possibilities, and even initiate your service projects. Gaining practical experience as early as middle school can boost your profile for college applications and help you develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These programs will also allow you to explore potential career paths in your chosen field and help you structure your extracurriculars in high school around that.

Such experiences demonstrate your ability to take initiative, work collaboratively, and contribute positively to society. Moreover, these experiences often lead to compelling personal statements, where you can share stories of growth, challenge, and impact.

In this blog, we'll explore 11 summer volunteer programs for middle school students, ranging from research and awareness in STEM to public health and disaster response activities. 

Location: Virtual

Cost/Stipend: No cost; It is an unpaid volunteering opportunity. 

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Dates: Year-round opportunities are available.

Eligibility: Students with access to the internet and the spirit to make an impact in society.

Missing Maps is a volunteer-driven collaborative project that creates maps for unmapped communities of the world that are likely to suffer from disasters and crises. As a volunteer, you will get to trace satellite imagery, add neighborhoods and street names, and more to help humanitarian teams and first responders reach these communities. 

Humanitarian teams use mapped information to plan risk reduction and disaster response activities that save lives. You can also organize or join a Mapathon where you’ll get to learn from the experiences of others while contributing to a shared goal. Mapathons are organized by groups and individuals all over the world. Even if you don’t know how to map, you can visit their Learn to Map page for beginners and learn in just an afternoon! To apply, just sign up on their website and get started. 

Location: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, Pittsburgh, PA

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; housing/transportation is not covered.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates: June 24 to 28, 2024 

Eligibility: Rising 8th and 9th graders can apply. 

The Summer Engineering Experience (SEE) is a week-long summer experience meant to bring various engineering concepts to rising 8th and 9th graders. SEE aims to give students hands-on experience in different forms of engineering. In addition to educational presentations throughout the week, you will have to complete two projects primarily utilizing items readily available in your household. 

For the first session, the first project is a structured assignment that will be completed by the entire group throughout the week. The second project will be completed individually within smaller groups, allowing for more unique and innovative ideas. The program will help you hone your skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and design concepts. It will also give you practical experience in developing innovative and creative solutions for real-world problems.

Location: Virtual

Cost/Stipend: None

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Dates: Vary depending on the project (Opportunities are available during the summer).

Eligibility: All middle school students are eligible.

This program offers a variety of projects, each providing unique opportunities to support and educate those in need, such as refugees, recent immigrants, and low-income youth. 

One such initiative is Project Omega, where you can teach a new 5th-grade math curriculum. If language tutoring is more of your interest, Project Speak Together is an excellent choice. Here, you'll work one-on-one with 7-13-year-old Ukrainian students, helping them practice conversational English through 45-minute weekly sessions. Your job will be to create a fun and engaging learning experience, building their conversational skills and forging meaningful connections. 

For those who enjoy world culture and international connections, Project Kuunganisha can be a good option. This project aims to foster cross-cultural connections by partnering American students with teens in Kenya. It's a great opportunity to share languages, cultures, and friendships, enriching your understanding of global perspectives while helping others. These projects not only enable you to contribute positively to the lives of others but also offer invaluable experiences in teaching, cultural exchange, and personal growth. You can sign up here.

Location: Multiple locations (virtual opportunities are also available).

Cost/Stipend: None

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Dates: Vary depending on the location.

Eligibility: Students of all ages are eligible (Opportunities for middle school students are available).

As a high school student looking to make a meaningful contribution through community service, the Special Olympics offers a rich and fulfilling opportunity. This global movement is dedicated to promoting the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, not just in sports but also in health, education, and community building. By volunteering with the Special Olympics, you have the chance to play a pivotal role in creating a more inclusive world. 

Depending on your strengths and interests, there are a variety of roles you can take on. You could be a coach, helping athletes develop their skills and confidence in a particular sport. If you have a knack for organization and leadership, you might find your calling as an event organizer or a manager, ensuring that the events run smoothly and participants have a memorable experience. For those with a keen eye for detail and a love for sports, serving as an official or a trainer might be the perfect fit. In these roles, you'll ensure fair play and help athletes perform at their best. Fundraising and community building are also critical aspects of the Special Olympics, and your efforts here can help sustain and grow the movement, ensuring that more individuals with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to participate. 

Cost: Varies depending on the opportunity.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis till the slots are filled.

Dates: Vary depending on the opportunity but typically conducted over the summer between June and August.

Eligibility: Teens completing grades 7-12 can apply.

Westcoast Connection aims to develop teens into leaders and global citizens. Participating in these programs will allow you to understand the issues facing other parts of the world and help solve them. You’ll get to interact with the local people, broaden your perspective and cultural awareness, and consider the role you play as a global citizen.

You’ll get to work as a team alongside experienced non-profit organizations to maximize their contribution to various service projects. You’ll learn to step out of your comfort zone, contribute to the project goal, and reflect upon your experience to become a strong leader. Whether you’re working with underprivileged children, helping to build a home for a family in need, or helping to protect an ecosystem from an invasive species, volunteering can help open your eyes to what matters and inspire you to make a difference. The service hours you complete over the summer are eligible for the President's Volunteer Service Award. You'll receive a letter of completion detailing your program's service hours and projects.

Cost/Stipend: None

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Dates: Vary depending on the participant’s preference and availability.

Eligibility: All middle school students from any registered local chapter are eligible. 

Best Buddies Friendship Programs empower people with/without IDD to form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure jobs, improve communication and advocacy skills, and live independently, while also offering support for their families.

By joining Best Buddies, you will become part of a growing movement of people with and without disabilities, dedicated to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to have a friend. Students with and without disabilities are invited to serve as chapter leaders who plan events and engaging opportunities for members. At least four group activities are held each year both in school and outside of school. Each chapter determines its activities based on the availability of the members.  Most importantly, members will be “matched” in a one-to-one friendship with another student from their middle/high school or peer-aged participants in the community at the college level.

As a matched member, you commit to contacting your buddy once a week; this can be by talking in school or connecting by phone, text, or email. Also, buddy pairs will make plans to get together twice a month. Many buddy pairs enjoy eating lunch together, going to school sporting events together, or hanging out after school. The purpose of Best Buddies is to foster natural friendships between two people.

Location: Normal, IL

Cost/Stipend: None

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the slots are full.

Dates: You can choose the days and number of hours per week to volunteer while filling out the registration form. The volunteer orientation and training class is available on multiple days in June.

Eligibility: Students at least 13 years old can apply.

Volunteering at the Children's Discovery Museum is a great way to give back to your community all while having a great time! Through the volunteer program, you can help with annual fundraising events or on an ongoing basis in our hands-on exhibits, programs, special events, or administrative office. To start volunteering, you’ll need to complete a volunteer registration and select an available orientation and training session. You’ll be required to attend the selected orientation and training session before participating in the volunteer program.

During the program, you’ll get an opportunity to play, clean, and reset exhibits; help the museum staff lead different programs; assist in the preparation of special events; and participate in administrative projects undertaken by the museum.

Location: NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY

Cost: Free for all accepted participants.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Dates: July 8 to August 2, 2024

Eligibility: Students who are NYC residents and 12 years old by the start of the program but not older than 14 can apply.

The Science of Smart Cities (SoSC) is a comprehensive three-week program on utilizing computer science, engineering, and technology to make cities more safe and sustainable. Through interactive activities, you’ll get to delve into topics like coding, physical sciences, and urban planning. You will also learn how science and engineering address real-world problems with innovative solutions, including the use of microcontrollers, sensors, circuitry, and electronics.

Mentored by NYU School of Engineering students, you’ll get to build smart city models while incorporating the various STEM concepts you’ve learned. The program ends with a final presentation, where you will present your creative solutions and projects to experts and the public. The SoSC can help you enhance STEM skills and awareness, preparing you for future roles in city planning and technology. 

Cost/Stipend: None

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis (for both full-year and summer volunteer opportunities).

Dates: Vary depending on the opportunity (Volunteers typically commit to three hours per week).

Eligibility: Students at least 13 years old can apply.

The Junior Volunteer Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado provides teens with opportunities to get involved with their community and gain valuable experience. They offer both full-year and summer volunteer opportunities and also provide volunteer credit for teens working to complete scholarship applications.

You can work in many hospital departments and support fundraising events. As a teen, you can connect with kids and other teens in the hospital on a unique level. From doing a craft project with children to staffing an event, volunteering in a hospital setting will allow you to see the impact of pediatric healthcare up close.

You’ll also meet many different people and get experience working with a team. The team includes people in clinical roles, like doctors, nurses, and therapists, and nonclinical roles like finance, information technology, and human resources professionals.

Location: Chicago, IL

Cost/Stipend: None

Application Deadline: Applications are closed for the 2024 teen volunteer program. Applications for summer 2025 will open in early 2025.

Dates: Teens must commit to volunteer at least 10 days throughout the summer to complete the program and qualify to apply for future year-round volunteering.

Eligibility: Graduating eighth-graders are eligible.

At the Field Museum, teen volunteers spend their days engaging visitors and sharing science stories throughout the museum. While volunteering, you will split your time between the Crown Family PlayLab and facilitating interpretive carts in Stanley Field Hall.

In the PlayLab, you’ll be trained to interact with young learners in a hands-on educational setting, facilitate drop-in programming, and help keep the space running smoothly. When facilitating interpretive carts, you’ll get to showcase objects and specimens from the museum’s collections for museum visitors. Graduating eighth graders are encouraged to participate in museum activities through the storytelling programs.

Location: Pioneer Middle School, Cooper City, FL

Cost/Stipend: $35 registration fee; Unpaid.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May and are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dates: Applicants may choose up to 3 weeks and will be assigned at least one week during the summer. If the students meet the requirements during their week of volunteering, they may be asked to volunteer thereafter.

Eligibility: Participants must have completed the 8th grade by the start of camp.

The Parks and Recreation Department offers various youth volunteer programs for middle and high school students residing within Cooper City. One such program offered by them is the Student Assistant Volunteer (SAV) Program for Cooper City Residents. Students can earn community service hours by volunteering through the Student Assistant Volunteer Program. Volunteers get to assist staff during their 2024 Summer Camp Program including Mini Camp and Back to School Camp. 

You can also join Cooper City's Teen Council which aims to empower teens ages 13 - 17 with the core values of leadership, accountability, and a heart for service. Teen Council accomplishes these goals by providing volunteer opportunities, and leadership experience, establishing high standards for behavior, and promoting teens to effectively communicate while managing their time and volunteer profiles. Teens participating in this organization have the opportunity to be involved in programs and events that focus on social and recreational activities while accruing valuable service hours.  

One more option - The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program

The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is a program for middle school students to work one-on-one with a mentor to explore their academic interests and build a project they are passionate about.  Our mentors are scholars from top research universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Duke, and LSE.

The program was founded by a Harvard & Oxford PhD who met as undergraduates at Harvard. The program is rigorous and fully virtual. We offer need-based financial aid for students who qualify. You can find the application in the brochure

To learn more, you can reach out to Lumiere's Head of Partnership, Maya Novak-Herzog, at or go to our website.

Multiple rolling deadlines for JEP cohorts across the year, you can apply using this application link! If you'd like to take a look at the cohorts + deadlines for 2024, you can refer to this page!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Missing Maps logo



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