Resources for AGENCIES
Resources for VOLUNTEERS
About the Virtual Volunteering Project
Subscribe to VIRTUAL VERVE
agencies and initiatives that involve|
online volunteers as mentors or tutors
(e-mentoring, e-mail mentoring, telementoring, etc.)
If you would like your agency to be included in this listing, please complete our online survey.
If you are interested in setting up or expanding your own online mentoring/teletutoring program, we have a growing body of online resources that can help. We also have information about online safety in volunteering programs, including a special section for programs involving youth.
Not all of these online mentoring programs are still operational.
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.
This is a nonprofit organization based in Augusta, Georgia. Its primary mission is to provide teenagers with a structured means of "thinking about and planning for their lives." The organization utilizes web communities, print, and broadcast media to accomplish its goals. The organization sponsors an online mentoring program, and its web site includes mentor guidelines and information about the screening of volunteers, and a mentor's kit to train volunteers for their mentoring activities.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County (Pennsylvania)
Internet Mentoring Program
This local affiliate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania launched its online program in the Fall of 1999 to bring together online adults and students from a local middle school. During the 2000-01 school year, the program is targeting students who have good grades, some basic computer ability, and at least one other risk factor in their lives (terminally ill family member, lack of support at home, new student with adjustment problems, etc.). In addition to exchanges using special e-mail addresses each week between students and mentors, the program arranges for face-to-face meetings at the initial match and at the end of the school year. Mentors are screened in the same way as the BBBS mentoring program (references check, child abuse history clearance, criminal background check, application and face-to-face interview). Online volunteer mentors complete a form each month and submit it via e-mail to the program coordinator regarding their online activities. The goals of the Internet Mentoring Program are the same as the BBBS traditional mentoring activities.
California State Telemation Program - Telementor Projects
A list of 19 telementoring projects undertaken in the California school system in 1996 as part of its "Telemation" program, with details on the curricular category each project covered (art, language, social studies, mathematics, technology, etc.), the telecommunication resources used in each project (Internet newsgroups, e-mail, gophers, a particular software program, etc.) and the contact information for each project. A good resource for teachers looking for telementoring activities.
Charlotte Rehabilitation Institute "Virtual Buddies" program
A representative from this North Carolina-based program shared information on the Institute's vision for virtual volunteering at its own organization in 1997, and some of the initial steps it had taken to make this dream a reality.
A national program begun in 1995 by the Guardian Angels and based in New York City, it's the largest online safety and educational program in cyberspace. Its mission is to help create a user-friendly and safe online surfing experience for everyone. Cyberangels involves online volunteers in a variety of activities, including: Angels Match (mentoring young people), CyberMoms (monitoring cyber-playgrounds and parenting resources), Net Patrol (patroling the Internet looking for child pornography, stalkers, child predators, groups advocating child abuse and pedophilia, scam artists and, working with other child advocacy groups compiling and updating lists of sites harmful to children), and Teen Angels (helping to build and maintain a fun and safe place to "hang-out," teach the younger kids , and learn important skills). Their screening and online safety systems for online volunteers are fully outlined on the Cyberangels site and are models for any organization looking to match volunteers with clients or potentially vulnerable populations online.
Brings together teachers, college mentors, middle school girls and gender equity leaders to increase middle school girls' interests in science, math and technology. CyberSisters is offered through the Willamette Science and Technology Center (WISTEC) in Eugene, Oregon. Mentors time commitment can be as little as 1 hour a week. Mentors help students understand the relationship between their interests and basic academic skills, help students identify how computer technology can augment their interests, inform students about career opportunities and the steps required to get there, and encourage students to use proper grammar when writing messages.
Cyberspace Seniors/InterAge CyberPals Classroom Project
This pilot project based in Tucson, Arizona brought together teachers, students and seniors to engage in "Curriculum and Casual Correspondence" via e-mail. "I send weekly e-mail reports to the adults and also manage a discussion roster in which the adults express their thoughts about the Programs successes and failures," says the project director, Martha Gore. "I keep in close touch with the adults to make sure they understand how important their contributions are in the lives of these students, some of whom come from rather sad home environments."
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, http://dap.digiclub.org/, 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 email and through chat rooms.
This online mentoring program serves youth involved in PowerUP, a nonprofit organization working to help America's underserved young people acquire the skills, experiences and resources they need to succeed in the digital age. PowerUP has technology centers around the U.S., many of them in public schools and working in partnership with other organizations and programs. The brand new Digital Heroes online mentoring program connects youth in PowerUP with employees of America Online (the primary sponsor of PowerUP) and with celebrity "notables" recruited by People Magazine. Online exchanges take place through a special password-protected web site created by America Online, and exchanges are supervised by the PowerUP site managers. Much of the online training materials for mentors and managers in this program was written by the Virtual Volunteering Project, with additional materials supplied by the National Mentoring Partnership. The VV Project and NMP will use data from this program to help encourage online mentoring in other programs and organizations throughout the U.S., and the VV Project will share learnings and tips from the launch and management of this program via the online mentoring resources section of its web site.
Campers with disabilities, from 13 to 17 years old, corresponded with online 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. An essay about this program, written by the program directors, is available online, presented as part of the March 1999 "Technology and Persons with Disabilities" in Los Angeles. 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.
Durham County Literacy Council
This North Carolina-based agency is experimenting with online tutoring as a supplement to face-to-face tutoring, and hopes include distance learning mentors who would guide students through the process of preparing for the GED. They would also like to introduce an online mentoring program for welfare-to-work families.
e-Buddies pairs people with and without mental retardation in e-mail friendships. e-Buddies agree to e-mail each 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.
Electronic Emissary Project
A very successful, well-documented, nationally recognized online mentoring program, based at the University of Texas at Austin. The Project helps teachers locate volunteers for purposes of arranging curriculum-based, electronic exchanges between their students and online mentors; offers a secured, supervised e-mail-based systems for student and mentor interactions; documents school-based online mentoring programs around the U.S.; and offers a great deal of advice for educators interested in setting up school-based programs. We refer to their best practices frequently on the Virtual Volunteering Project site.
In partnership with Avaterra.com, First Frontiers launched an online environment that permits participants to engage in mentoring through an interactive virtual world by communicating with "avatars" (customizable graphical representations of online volunteers). The pilot program, "Music, Media & Marketing", ran through June 2000.
Haskell University / Santa Clara Day School
E-Mail Mentoring Project
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, this project focused on bringing together Native American elementary-school kids in Espanola, New Mexico with college students attending Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, via the Internet. The class chatted once a week with Haskell education majors studying mulit-media technology in the classroom. Initial exchanges involved informal talks about musical tastes, favorite hobbies, etc. Later, the class worked with Haskell mentors on collaborative projects. The project was part of on integrating Native American culture and technology 4Directions, which focuses on integrating Native American culture and technology .
HP E-Mail Mentor program
A program by Hewlett Packard, whose corporate headquarters are in California. Web site includes links to K-12 resources (science, math, online libraries, etc.) to assist both mentors and mentees in their work, and links to other online mentoring programs.
IBM e-Mentoring Program
IBM partners with schools across the U.S., including Barbara Jordan Elementary School in Austin, Texas, allowing IBM employees to serve as volunteer e-mentors with students in various grades. One mentor is matched to one student, and e-mails are exchanged regularly, at least every other week. At least one face-to-face meeting between a mentor and a student is also arranged. Individual schools and teachers tailor the program to fit their needs: some are more classwork-based, while others focus primarily on building a personal relationship between mentors and students. The Barbara Jordan Elementary School e-Mentoring program is focused on developing student skills in technology use, and providing encouragement from a caring adult outside of school for students to improve academic achievement. IBM provides its employees and partner schools with a printed manual to help them build and sustain programs at individual schools.
Serving the New York City metropolitan area, this non-profit Internet-based mentoring program provides young people from underserved communities with adult mentors, the opportunity to explore career options, and basic technological literacy training. Although communication takes place primarily on-line, iMentor also schedules occasional events where mentors and students can interact face-to-face. "We conduct three telephone reference checks, a telephone interview with the mentor, and a police background check of every mentor," says Richard Buery, Executive Director of the agency. "We communicate extensively with prospective mentors through telephone and email." His advice for agencies interested in virtual volunteering: "You must treat on-line volunteers as you would traditional volunteers. Volunteers need to be managed, trained, recognized, and appreciated."
(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.
Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections
IECC is a free service linking teachers with partners in other countries and cultures for e-mail classroom pen-pal and project exchanges. It is based at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. At last count, more than 7650 teachers in 82 countries were participating in one or more of the IECC partnerships. IECC e-mail-based discussion groups include IECC-HE, for teachers seeking partner classrooms for international and cross-cultural e-mail exchanges with institutions of higher education; IECC-INTERGEN, for teachers and volunteers over 50 years of age seeking partners for intergenerational e-mail exchanges; IECC-PROJECTS, for teachers to announce or request help with specific classroom projects that involve e-mail, internationally or cross-culturally; IECC-SURVEYS, for students and teachers to post requests for assistance on projects, surveys, and questionnaires; and IECC-DISCUSSION, about the applications and implications of intercultural e-mail classroom connections. IECC also provides a page of links to Other International E-Mail Classroom Connection Projects.
International Telementor Center
Based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, this is a new program to help corporations create telementoring programs similar to the HP E-Mail Mentor program (see above). Their latest partnership is with the Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE), to serve students in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Leaders Forum/Ameritech Online Mentors Project
The Leaders Forum is a non-profit educational association for African American professionals (management equivalent) in Southeast Wisconsin. Partners in this online mentoring program include The Leaders Forum; Ameritech, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Library and Information Science; and the Alexander Graham Bell Middle School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) &
the Austin Latino Alliance (ALA) E-Mentor Project
This effort, based in Austin, Texas, began in February 1999, with
23 students at Metz Elementary School each matched with an adult e-mentor. Many of these first e-mentors have continued to exchange e-mails with these first students, who are now in middle school. The project has also since expanded to Norman, Allan, and Allison elementary schools in Austin, all serving large populations of low income and minority students. Students are 5th and 6th graders.
E-Mail mentors include professors and students at the University of Texas at Austin, the Southwest Education Development Lab (SEDL), IBM, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and CEDRA. Mentors support the students in their academics (math, writing, reading, etc.), and encourage the student in his or her studies through e-mails at
least once a week. E-mail mentors are screened and trained through the same methods used to screen onsite mentors in the Austin Independent School District, so all candidates must complete paper work and attend trainings onsite in Austin.
Learning through Collaborative Visualization (CoVis) Project
CoVis is a community of thousands of students, hundreds of teachers, and dozens of researchers all working together to find new ways to think about and practice science in the classroom. Over the 1995-96 school year, CoVis sponsored a pilot project, creating online curriculum-based mentoring relationships between 90 students in project-based science classes and more than a hundred online volunteer scientists from government, academia and industry.
Macdonald Youth Services (MYS)
This organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada has provided children and their families with a range of treatment and support services since 1929. MYS uses the Internet to recruit onsite volunteers, involves online volunteers (including some from the United States) in assignments that assist staff (web site building, database creation, online research, desktop publishing, etc.), and is expanding its own virtual tutoring program. An outline of MYS's screening process and online application and other forms are available on its web site.
McGraw-Hill Signature Program with NCEE
In November 1997, the McGraw-Hill Companies, based in New York City, launched the Signature Program with the National Council on Economic Education, an organization addressing economic literacy, as one fulfillment of the McGraw-Hill commitment to America's Promise. The partnership focused on young people to strengthen their levels of economic literacy, and involved a virtual component to match teachers and classrooms with online volunteers from McGraw-Hill Companies.
MentorNet is a nonprofit organization, the National Electronic Industrial Mentoring Network for Women in Engineering and Science. It is based out of the College of Engineering at San José State University in California. MentorNet pairs women who are studying engineering or science at participating colleges or universities with professional scientists and engineers working in industry, and helps them form e-mail based mentoring relationships. The program runs for one academic year. Mentors and protegés are matched beginning in mid-September, and the program ends in May. MentorNet is a structured e-mentoring program, providing multiple supports to help mentors and protegés develop and sustain an e-mentoring relationship. "First, we carefully match mentors with protegés, based on their academic and professional interests, along with preferences for being matched with an e-mentoring partner. We provide training for the participants, along with ongoing coaching in the form of regular discussion suggestions. Through the delivery of the discussion suggestions, we keep the lines of communication open between the MentorNet participants and the MentorNet staff, so we can provide consulting, troubleshooting, and rematching, when necessary." The MentorNet web site provides an excellent model for other programs interesting in using the Internet for preparing mentors and protegés for participation.
In association with BBN Technologies, a division of GTE. Mentor Center (formerly NetPals) grew out of research into the value of having people outside of school critique students' work. NetPals was developed by the National School Network Exchange (NSN), a community of over 500 schools, museums, businesses, and government agencies seeking ways to enhance curriculum through the Internet. Through the Mentor Center, students send assignments to mentors and mentors review their work, with a teacher overseeing the exchanges. Mentor Center requires minimal technology and is easy to use. Using their own browser and email programs, participants work from their own Internet-connected computers.
Mentor Program and PEPHE-Talk by the
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA)
Health Education Training Centers Alliance of Texas (HETCAT)
A pilot project that worked to improve health career awareness among ninth grade students, through telementoring. Goals with mentees: to improve students' English, math and science proficiency, and to ensure that students have sufficient information to consider careers in health. Mentors were students from UTHSCSA, who submitted an online mentor application to program staff and went through an interview and training session. Mentors were responsible for communicating with the student at least 2-3 times per week throughout the spring 1999 academic period. Mentors agreed to be a positive role model; encourage their students to excel in math and science; use appropriate grammar and effective communication skills; encourage their students to use the Internet as a resource; and correspond with the student's teacher and program staff. The HETCAT Mentor Program staff matched students and mentors based on a set of specific needs, common career interests, academic studies, and hobbies. Students and mentors worked on projects that were integrated into the classroom curriculum. The web site includes information on this program, guidelines used for teachers, mentors and mentees, as well as background information on the importance and roles of mentors.
Micron Technology's E-Mail Mentoring Program
Women in technical careers at Micron Technology, Inc. in Boise, Idaho organized this program with junior high school science and math teachers to connect with female students and encourage them to consider technical careers (girls in the 6th grade and even into the 7th grade often have strong skills and high interest in math and science, but that interest begins to dwindle in 8th grade, and by high school young women often switched to non-science courses and non-technical career interests). This web site documents their efforts, from conception to the completion of the pilot program. The site includes the program's mentor application packet, the approval process, sample teacher, student and parent surveys and evaluations, mentor guidelines, and a summary of the program to date.
A nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia that helps junior high and high school students develop career aspirations by matching them online with experienced industry professionals. The program introduces young people to professionals in the arts, business, legal, science, and technology careers. Online exchanges take place through the NetMentors web site, staff monitor each message for compliance with the organization's Code of Conduct (available on its web site), and training for mentors is provided online. Booz-Allen & Hamilton is a key supporter. Potential participants do not have to be affiliated with a particular school or company to apply.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, this national nonprofit organization works to enrich the lives of mature adults. Its Internet Mentoring Program matches older adult volunteers with middle school students. Mentors and students exchange weekly e-mail messages on topics pre-determined by OASIS and the school. The project provides reading and writing opportunities for the students, and a chance to sharpen technology skills and gain support from a caring adult role model. Another benefit is that the program reaches schools where OASIS volunteers cannot travel each week. Individual schools screen the online volunteers according to their district policies (many of the volunteers already volunteer onsite at the schools and have been previously screened). OASIS also provides an online message board to foster communication among online volunteers and staff. The key to their online mentoring program success: "We've always believed in training -- or at least clear guidelines for each volunteer role -- and this is also important for the online volunteers. Also, clearly define the volunteer role and time commitment. They need to understand how much the organization is counting on them. Have written guidelines for staff who will be involved so they understand the goals of the project and how it will benefit the organization. And be patient. Technology has its pitfalls and glitches that need to be worked out."
An online program in California assisting students who require help and attention beyond the resources of their schools and families. In addition to receiving intensive one-on-one face-to-face instruction, students also engage in ongoing mentoring from a personal Academic Coach and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) via the Internet. Coaches and SMEs work with individual classroom teachers to meet specific goals and objectives. SMEs, working as online mentors, describe to students the typical working conditions advantages, drawbacks, academic prerequisites, etc., associated with their work. The mentors also make recommendations to help students pursue career goals. A once weekly exchange of e-mail is the typical scenario.
For young women aged 12-18 to exchange ideas, hear the voices of their peers and connect online with women mentors. It also has a program to match adult women in mentor/mentee relationships online around a variety of issues -- career, self-esteem, body image, etc. The organization is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (but is open to participants globally), and was formerly Women Helping Women International and its "Take Aim" program.
Sanchez Elementary School Online Mentoring Program
In cooperation with the Virtual Volunteering Project and the Cyberspace Seniors/InterAge CyberPals Classroom (see above), this pilot program brings together online mentors from all over the U.S. with fourth graders at this elementary school in Austin, Texas. Online activities focus primarily on reading and writing, and on establishing a positive, trusting relationship between online adult volunteers and the students. The program also hopes to increase positive feelings about technology from the point of view of all participants -- students, teachers, mentors and parents. Mentors have been screened via reference checks and online applications; all e-mails from adults are read by a program director before being forwarded to the students, and no "real" e-mail addresses are used (to insure there's no way to communicate outside the program's password-protected interactive web site). Teachers communicate with mentors regularly to suggest topics of discussion with the students, and incorporate the writing of e-mails to mentors into the student's class work and computer lab time. The project was designed adhering to the VV Projects suggestions for initial first steps for those considering setting up a direct contact service component involving online volunteers, and our suggested online safety standards.
Service Corps Of Retired Executives (SCORE)
A resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, dedicated to aiding in the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE offers an email counseling at no cost (for U.S. citizens and resident aliens only); its huge searchable databank helps users find the SCORE member whose expertise best addresses their business needs. The expertise of members if highly varied and specialized -- users can get email counseling in everything from tropical agriculture to unemployment compensation to wholesale lighting equipment. The Web site also has a database for finding local SCORE affiliates.
A 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.
Stevens Institute of Technology & NASA
Pilot Telementoring Project
This project began its pilot run in the fall of 1997, matching nine NASA engineers/scientists, all of Hispanic heritage, with New Jersey teachers and their eighth or ninth grade classrooms in Jersey City, Hoboken & Union City, made up of students primarily of Hispanic heritage. The program involved five all-day hands-on workshops in which teachers learn about meteorology and the use of the Internet-based resources for studying meteorology, such as NASA satellite images. Teachers and mentors also communicated prior to mentors interactions with students. The program provided opportunities for students to ask mentors questions, via e-mail, to help students in their understanding of math and science as well as provide students with a role model. In developing the project, literature by Judi Harris of the Electronic Emissary was used (see above).
Telementoring Young Women in Science, Engineering, and Computing
This was a three-year project of EDC/Center for Children & Technology and was funded by the National Science Foundation, Directorate of Education and Human Resources. This project has been discontinued, but the Web site is still up and includes extensive online resources for both mentors and teachers.
Youth Trust e-Mentoring
This nonprofit brings together schools, employers and community resources in Minneapolis, Minnesota to help youth develop marketable skills. Youth Trust's activities include setting up e-mentoring programs between businesses and Minneapolis public schools, such as the Cargill, Inc. and Olson Middle School E-mail Mentoring Program. Youth Trust first piloted its e-Mentoring model
in 1995 with Norstan Communications and Franklin Middle School in North Minneapolis. More than 1700 students participated in Youth Trust e-Mentoring programs in 2000. Youth Trust helps recruit business and school partners for e-mentoring programs, then the key contact at each business and school takes over in screening (including background checks) and matching online mentors to students, setting and communicating activities for the program, and so forth. Mentors and students send weekly e-mail messages, which are guided by curriculum and the teacher. Each school year there are several face-to-face meetings between e-mentors and students. Volunteers go through a one-hour onsite orientation and training that outlines the policies of the e-mentoring. Kate Hopper at Youth Trusts advises online mentors: "Be patient and know that you are making a difference. It's sometimes hard for people who aren't able to see the student. They don't understand the impact they are actually having."