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Meaningful community solutions require more than money or programs or policies. The kind of real and lasting change that benefits everyone is only possible when people from all walks of life are willing to roll up their sleeves and go where their time and talent is most needed.

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Every day, people are introducing lasting solutions to local issues. Here are a few ways volunteers are changing lives and communities.

  • A Reading Revolution in San Diego, California

    A new initiative called Rowan Reading Rebels is already bearing fruit in City Heights: 91 percent of participating students have accelerated their reading levels and writing proficiency, and 33 percent improved their school attendance.

    The results are amazing, and yet the strategy behind it is common sense. Just ask Carmen Richardson, who volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday to work one-on-one with the students from Rowan Elementary School. The work differs depending on the needs of the particular child: sometimes it’s letters on whiteboards and beginning level reading; sometimes it’s sentence work.

    The goal of Rowan Reading Rebels is to ensure that the children are reading at grade level by 3rd grade, a crucial milestone on the path to academic success.

    Did You Know…?

    Kids who are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out before earning their high school diploma. That’s why United Way has recruited more than 350,000 readers, tutors and mentors to help young people discover a love of learning—and translate that passion into success in school, work and life.

  • A Day of Caring in Trinidad and Tobago

    In 2013, on United Way’s first annual Day of Caring, more than 2,600 volunteers in Trinidad joined with 59 companies to participate in a wide range of community-building projects around the country. Volunteers refurbished a home for children with HIV, provided opportunities for exercise and physical activity for youth, read to children, prepared and delivered food, and much more.

    Did You Know…?

    Volunteering is actually good for your health! Don’t take our word for it; this research underscores the health benefits of taking some time out to help others. If that’s not incentive, consider this: volunteers have a 27% higher chance of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. 

  • Helping People Save More in Lafayette, Louisiana

    Byron, a father of five, learned he might qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). While preparing taxes at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, he discovered he was eligible for $5,600 in EITC. With that money, he was able to tackle his home’s mold problem, which was giving one of his children headaches and asthma flare-ups. Byron is one of thousands of local residents who have benefited from his initiative.

    At VITA sites across the United States, our volunteers help millions of Americans save more of their hard-earned money.  Through VITA and MyFreeTaxes.com, our online free tax preparation and filing service, Americans have claimed more than $10 billion—savings that people can use for essential needs like their next rent check, books that their kids need for school or a much-needed doctor appointment.

    Did You Know…?

    Research has shown that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) encourages work, reduces poverty and leads to long-term gains in child health and academic success. The EITC doesn’t just put more money into people’s pockets; it’s a investment in the long-term success of multiple generations and entire communities.

Volunteer in your own neighborhood

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Key Volunteer Initiatives

Day of Action

Day of Action

Each year on and around June 21, communities around the world come together to harness the volunteer spirit and improve the conditions in which they live. In 2014, thousands of people in more than 300 communities—from Macon, Georgia to Mumbai, India—committed their time and their passion to creating long-lasting solutions that benefit everyone.

Day of Action is an opportunity for communities to come together and address the issues that matter most to them. For some, it’s stuffing backpacks full of books to encourage reading and improve early literacy. For others, it’s planting community gardens to foster civic pride and promote affordable, healthy eating. In that sense, Day of Action mirrors the work that United Way does year-round: empowering people to affect positive change in their own backyards, and across the world. 

Get Involved in United Way's Day of Action.


Read, Tutor, Mentor

As a key strategy to ensure children enter school ready, are successful in primary school and can gain credentials necessary to obtain a good job, United Way launched a commitment to recruit volunteer readers, tutors or mentors to support education initiatives.

Since launching this national call to action, over 353,000 individuals pledged to volunteer and more than 635 United Ways across the U.S. contributed to the call to action.