What is Opportunity Saint Paul?
Opportunity Saint Paul harnesses the transformative work of volunteers to both relieve the effects of poverty and address its root causes. We match dedicated volunteers with partner nonprofit organizations that have proven records of effectively addressing barriers to economic mobility. We then support volunteers and partners organizations through bi-monthly learning community events with renowned experts. These events build community and advance understanding of how to make a meaningful dent in poverty.
Why is there a need for Opportunity Saint Paul?
Our community faces many difficult challenges that often seem to defy solution. Poverty-level incomes, low academic achievement, generational poverty, and racial disparities in income and educational outcomes are destructive to individuals, to families, and to our communities. Here are a few statistics to consider about our community:
- 72% of the children in the Saint Paul school district are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, meaning that their families live at or below 185% of the poverty level
- 1 in 4 people of color in Minnesota live in poverty. Poverty rates are especially high among certain groups, including African Americans (38%), American Indians (32%), and Hispanics (23%)
- Educational disparities in reading for students in Saint Paul Public Schools: 35% of American Indian and 25% of African American students are proficient in reading, compared to 73% of Caucasian students
What are the benefits of participating?
An opportunity to interact with the greater community. Our community is growing increasingly diverse. What better way to get to know others who are different from your immediate connections than by diving into a partner organization? You’ll meet youth and adults alike in these rewarding places.
An opportunity to learn more about yourself. Every interaction we have with people, big or little, can make a difference, not only to others but also to ourselves. You’ll gain valuable interpersonal communication skills as you work one-to-one. You’ll also meet other volunteers who share similar volunteer experiences and you can learn from one another how to best approach different issues. If you are part of a faith community, perhaps the call to serve others will strike a chord.
What is the time commitment?
We ask volunteers to make a yearlong commitment to volunteer at least one shift per week (45 minutes – 4 hours, varies by volunteer role) and attend our six bi-monthly Learning Community Events. Learn more about the time commitment for each volunteer role.
Does is cost anything?
It is free to join!
Is this program only for the faith community?
Not at all – all are welcome! As an interfaith organization, we work with a variety of faith communities, but we believe we need the entire community on board to address poverty.
How do I get involved?
Fill out the volunteer application to get started. A member of our staff then will get in touch with you to talk more about the program and your interests.
What types of volunteer roles are available?
Volunteer roles vary, but they include homework help, one-to-one elementary literacy tutoring, co-teaching a class of adult English language learners, guiding job seekers in their search for employment, and assisting a group of students with creating their own community initiatives. Learn more about volunteer roles.
Are there any requirements to volunteer, such as age?
Our partners set their own training requirements. Each volunteer role requires some type of training, though the length and timing of that training varies widely. Most roles do not require any special skills or experiences, though all require a high level of commitment to the volunteer role. Some roles require volunteers to pass a background check. The minimum age for volunteers is 16 years old, although some partner organizations require volunteers to be at least 18. If you are younger than 16 and would like to volunteer with us, please check out other opportunities at Interfaith Action by completing our volunteer application.
Can I volunteer with my partner/friend/group/etc?
It is possible to volunteer with others. Please email Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Kulus for more information.
What if I get started and my volunteer role is not a good fit?
If you get started with your volunteer role and have any problems, please contact us immediately. Our goal is to ensure a positive experience for everyone while pursuing our mission of strengthening economic mobility through service.
What are the learning community events?
We host learning community events for our volunteers every other month, generally on Thursday evenings. These events provide an opportunity to build relationships with other cohort members, to learn from experts about Saint Paul’s infrastructure of opportunity, to participate in interfaith dialogue and interfaith relationship-building, and to learn ways to engage others in improving economic mobility. Volunteers will be given access to a take-home curriculum that they can utilize in areas of their life outside of Opportunity Saint Paul.
Where do the learning community events take place?
Learning community events rotate between different locations around Saint Paul. Past locations have included our partner organizations’ spaces, local colleges, churches, synagogues, and mosques.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
New mailing address:
1041 Grand Avenue, #312
Saint Paul, MN 55105