June 21, 2017

A young person’s guide to starting a community project this summer

Now that school's out, young people have the time have some fun—and also make a difference

Summer is a great time for kids to start their own community project. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Summer is a great time to make a change. But if you’re not an adult, you may not know where to begin, or you may have doubts about your ability to have an impact. Hopefully after reading this guide you’ll feel confident and ready to go out and make change in your community!

Lots of teens have the opportunity to get involved in their communities. As a 16 year old myself, I’ve had a lot of success starting my program the Cleveland Bike Library. If you’re interested in starting a service project in your school or community, you must know a few things first:

Once you have an idea, do your research to make sure someone in your community isn’t doing the same thing. If someone is already doing something similar, speak with them to see if you can help out. Working together can get the both of you much further in making a change!

If you’re in the clear with your idea, then you’re still going to need some help: start networking! Seek out help from your school’s staff, your family and friends, your local Community Development Corporations, or even your local news channels. After your team is built, thoroughly map out your plans. Make a budget to outline your costs, find locations, and figure out if you need permission for anything—and then get it!

Don’t be afraid to ask for money! The truth is, most projects are going to cost money. It’s not that bad though! Start off by asking the people closest to you for financial help. If the project is a smaller one, this may cover the cost of your project. If that doesn’t cut it, create an ioby crowdfunding page. The nonprofit organization ioby provides all the resources you need to start taking donations and building a team of volunteers. Also, contact your local news networks and ask them to spread the word.

Now that you’ve done these steps, and you have successfully made a positive change in your community, you must thank everyone. Thank your family members, friends, volunteers, donors, local news networks, local businesses, and anyone who contributed to your efforts. I always say: if they helped, thank them, no matter how big or how small their contribution!

Randy King

Randy King is the founder of the Cleveland Bike Library, a program that he’s launching that will allow teens at area schools to sign out bikes to travel to and from school. He attends Facing History New Tech High School in Cleveland.