This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).

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agencies and initiatives that
involve people with disabilities,
as online volunteers
or as those served

NOTE: many organizations, including the Virtual Volunteering Project, involve people with disabilities as online volunteers, and have an ongoing commitment to do so. However, the list below is just for organizations with a primary focus on

  • recruiting online volunteers with disabilities, or
  • having online volunteers work with people with disabilities.

If you would like your agency to be included in this listing, please complete our online survey.

    Ability OnLine Support Network
    An electronic mail system that connects young people with disabilities or chronic illness to disabled and non-disabled peers and mentors. This network gives "wings" to thousands of children and adolescents by removing the social barriers that can come with having a disability and illness, and by providing opportunities to form friendships, build self-confidence, exchange information, and share hope and encouragement through e-mail messages.

    Befrienders International
    Has centers worldwide, including the U.S. Each center has trained "listening" volunteers who provide support via phone to people who are suicidal or despairing, and who work to increase public awareness of issues around suicide and depression. Some of the centers also provide support via e-mail; though not an immediate service, e-mail is answered within 24 hours. This organization and its centers are affiliated with Samaritans.

    Boggy Creek Gang Camp
    This agency is Eustis, Florida serves young people with disabilities in a variety of activities. Many participants are involved in Convomania (see below)

    Compeer West
    This Buffalo, New York-based agency has built on their success of providing and encouraging face-to-face volunteer friendships with children and adults striving for good mental health, by creating a new online component of this program. Online volunteers must go through the same onsite screening and training as face-to-face volunteers. About 25 online volunteers have participated so far.

    ConvoNation (formerly known as Convomania)
    Based in Calfifornia, this national endeavor was begun by Apple Computer as a way for kids with a serious illness and/or disability to share experiences with each other via the Internet. They worked in partnership with San Jose Children's Musical Theater to produce an original musical about youth with disabilities.

    Digital Clubhouse Network
    A not-for-profit organization, spun out from NASA, that is developing a 21st century learning center where people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds can master networked multimedia technology tools. The Network maintains a Digital Clubhouses in Sunnyvale, California and at the New York Information Technology Center in Wall Street. One of the Clubhouse activities is the Digitally Abled Producers Project,, which pairs youth with disabilities ages 14-24 together with youth without disabilities, and teaches them multimedia, Universally Accessible webpage production, networking, and career skills. Participants use the Internet to communicate with each other through e-mail and through chat rooms.

    DO-IT/Camp Courage
    Campers with disabilities, from 13 to 17 years old, corresponded with volunteers via e-mail. The goal was for campers to practice using e-mail and to get comfortable using it to communicate with others, and to have fun socializing online. DO-IT is based out of the University of Washington and works to help people with disabilities successfully pursue academics and careers. It's programs to promote the use of technology to maximize the independence, productivity and participation of people with disabilities.

    e-Buddies pairs people with and without mental retardation in e-mail friendships. e-Buddies agree to e-mail ach other at least once a week for one year -- more often if you wish. e-Buddies is free for students and for people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. Volunteers who are not students are charged a one-time $50 fee to help cover the costs of checking references and processing applications. Best Buddies, the sponsor of this program, check references on all applicants and require parental permission for those under 18. Best Buddies also requires all participants to agree to a code of conduct that prohibits the exchange of addresses and telephone numbers, the transmittal of pornographic information. In-person meetings are also prohibited, unless arranged by a Best Buddies staff member.

    Glaucoma Research Foundation
    National organization based in San Francisco, California
    Detailed profile of this organization

    Information Access
    (formerly the Science, Engineering, and Math (SEM) Program)
    This University of Delaware-based effort sponsors numerous ongoing telementoring projects, including Scientopia, an online community consisting of students, mentors, and advocates who are interested in actively discussing issues in education, research, careers, and news developments with a special emphasis on the sciences and disability; the Math Mania Contest; Science Serendipity Contest; and Student Cyberfairs.

    Knowbility, Inc.
    A national nonprofit organization based in Texas and born out of the collaborative effort that was AIR-Austin, a web design contest that helps educate the high-tech community about making Web sites and other online technologies fully accessible to people with disabilities. The onsite volunteer efforts for AIR-Austin were coordinated primarily via the Internet, and the nonprofit promotes virtual volunteering as a way to help youth with disabilities learn high-tech skills and other skills for the work place.

    National Lekotek Center
    The Center sponsors Compuplay Summer Camp and CompuClub in Illinois each year, providing computer instruction to children with and without disabilities in a recreational setting. The camp included a "virtual volunteers" program, where volunteers served as online "wizards", answering children's messages about computers and technology.

    A charitable organization, founded in 1953, serving the United Kingdom and Ireland. Samaritans trained "listening" volunteers provide support via phone and e-mail to people who are suicidal or despairing, and work to increase public awareness of issues around suicide and depression. The organization's onsite training of its volunteers is focused on fine-tuning listening skills and providing the knowledge and confidence necessary to support callers in crisis. The Samaritans e-mail service is not an immediate service; mail is answered within 24 hours. Befrienders International is affiliated with the Samaritans and has branches in the U.S.

    San Jose Children's Musical Theater
    San Jose, California
    Detailed profile of this organization

    Private, interactive computer network where hospitalized kids from across the nation can interact with a community of their peers, helping each other cope with the day-to-day realities of living with illness. Kids learn about illnesses, procedures and coping and learn the definitions of difficult terms. STARBRIGHT World is available in hospitals nationwide, and there is a list of these hospitals on the STARBRIGHT World Web site.


Back to Index of collaborating agencies

Does your organization already involve volunteers via the Internet? Then We Want to Hear From You!

If your organization involves volunteers "offline" to promote your agency's mission (tutoring clients, staffing a crisis line, support groups, etc.), and you want to explore involvement of online volunteers in a similar capacity, OR, if you already DO involve online volunteers and want to expand these activities, the Virtual Volunteering Project would love to help you. Read more about how we might collaborate.

Back to Index of collaborating agencies

If you find this or any other Virtual Volunteering Project information helpful, or would like to add information based on your own experience, please contact us.

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