Youth as Volunteers: Kids Give Back

“I’m so inspired by the kids,” Gavilan added. “They want to do volunteer work. They are enthusiastic and they get it… I think Kids Give Back is so successful [because] we are empowering children as young as 6 years old… It’s about them feeling confident.”

Fairfax Times

Kids Give Back is a nonprofit organization in Northern Virginia that provides volunteer opportunities for kids ages 6-12.  Youth are engaged in virtual volunteer events, Family Volunteer Days, Summer Volunteer Camps and more. Every project completed meets an identified need in the community, while inspiring the next generation of volunteers.

Established as a nonprofit in 2019, Kids Give Back grew out of an afterschool club and a realization that there were not many opportunities for children between 6 and 12 years old to volunteer. Over 300 volunteers have completed over 3,000 volunteer hours, contributing over 2,000 in-kind donations in 2022.

Summer camps, afterschool events, and Family Volunteer days are all designed with youth in mind. From the “time, talent, and treasure” framework used to explain how we can all help others to the importance on making things fun, students are actively engaged in projects that make a difference in their community. Founder Denise Gavilan also emphasizes how crucial it is to make sure youth understand the impact of their volunteerism. Projects are chosen that are relatable to children, such as food insecurity, animal rescue, health, and education. One partner organization said, “Kids Give Back does a wonderful job connecting our local youth to service opportunities while educating them on them any nonprofits doing important work in our communities. This year students provided 100 summer supply bags for our students to use in Aspire!’s six-week summer learning camp. The supplies were a tremendous help to our organization, especially at a time we saw record enrollment and need.”

Understanding the Impact

These project activities are designed to be meaningful experiences for youth to become more civically minded, even at such a young age. Nonprofit leaders are invited to come and talk to the children about the impact of the work, and help the participants see the role they play in making the world a better place. Students also engage in reflection during each project, thinking about the activity before it starts, and then sharing and journaling after the project about what they did, how they feel, and what they might do in the future. This reflection helps them process their actions and gain a better understanding of the volunteer activity.

The impact of Kids Give Back is seen not only through the number of hours committed or donations made, but also through the improved confidence and wellbeing of the students involved. Students are able to develop leadership skills, practice fine motor and basic academic skills, and cultivate a passion for helping others at the same time. Gavilan shares that some youth participants report never being asked to help before, and that students feel so proud of their accomplishments when they are able to share the impact of their contribution.

Learn More

Kids Give Back is believes in the deep capacity of kids to make a difference. The leaders at Kids Give Back, an all volunteer team, are dedicated to making more opportunities available for more children to engage in volunteerism. If you are interested in learning more about Kids Give Back, either partnering with them in Northern Virginia or bringing the Kids Give Back model to your community, contact Denise Gavilan at