By Anchal Bibra

I am constantly inspired by all the amazing organizations and community movements in Oakland. There are many wonderful nonprofits working hard to create opportunities, facilitate growth, and bring together different residents for a single cause. Volunteering for any of these organizations would be incredibly energizing. Of course this list is a small sampling of all the great work that is being done in Oakland. Use this as a jumping off point to discover meaningful opportunities this year! And, if you don’t have the time to volunteer, you can always help out with a donation.

Hidden Genius Project

What it does: Hidden Genius Project offers an 8-week summer program for black male youth, ages 13-17, to get education, skills, mentorship, and experience in the tech industry, most specifically in software engineering, user experience design, and tech entrepreneurship. 

What you can do: Volunteer or become a sponsor.

Global Glimpse

What it does: Global Glimpse gives students from all socioeconomic background the opportunity to travel abroad.

What you can do: Create partnerships at Bay Area high schools, volunteer (you can even lead one of their international trips).

Axis Dance

What it does: Axis Dance is a contemporary dance company for performers with and without disabilities. Axis helped bring physically integrated dance to the spotlight with their performances and education and access programs.

What you can do: Volunteer to help with mailings, usher performances, event support, video editing, legal services, and more.


What it does: Playworks started when founder Jill Vialet visited an Oakland school and saw the sorry state of recess time. She started this group to make sure recess is fun, positive, healthy, and inclusive for kids, and will help them be energized and focused in class. 

What you can do: Volunteer to work with elementary school students as a Playworks ambassador.

Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive

What it does: CoFED empowers college students to open food cooperatives on campuses.

What you can do: Become a member or a mentor who gives advice to student organizers and CoFED staff in areas of food, cooperatives, grassroots organizing, business, and leadership development.

Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security

What it does: WAGES helps to create respectable, secure, and worker-owned green businesses for low-income women of color.

What you can do: Volunteer for one time or long-term projects (ex: participate on its Board of Directors).

Today's Future Sound

What it does: Today's Future Sound is a nonprofit funded by Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation. It teaches youth the art of music production, beat making, and DJing through programs in and outside of schools.

What you can do: Donate equipment, help to film or edit video, staff an event, or volunteer your skills. 


What it does: Amir uses gardening to teach kids about social issues, environmental issues, and community building.

What you can do: Become a farming volunteer.

Transgender Law Center

What it does: Transgender Law Center works with law and policy to help people of all gender identities to live safely and free from discrimination.

What you can do: Host a benefit or join the Transgender Justice Council.

Phat Beets

What it does: Phat Beets is a food justice collective that brings affordable, healthy food, and awareness about food equality to communities in Oakland.

What you can do: Subscribe to their CSA Box, volunteer in one of their working groups and committees, volunteer at farmer markets or to help pack their CSA boxes.

Creative Growth

What it does: Creative Growth gives adults with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities a space for artistic expression. It provides a professional studio, representation, and socializing opportunities for participants.

What you can do: Become a member, volunteer, donate art and other supplies.

Next Step Learning Center

What it does: Next Step Learning Center provides adults in Oakland with literacy tutoring.

What you can do: Become a literacy tutor.

Asian Health Services

What it does: Asian Health Services provides medical and dental services to the Asian and Pacific Islander community, regardless of age, income, insurance status, immigration status, language, or culture.  

What you can do: Volunteer to help with administration, health education, language access program, fundraising, PR, or clinician/nurse services. 

California Pit Bull Rescue

What it does: California Pit Bull Rescue helps at-risk pit bulls through fostering, fundraising, and educational programs to prevent abuse, over breeding and miseducation about the breed.

What you can do: Foster a dog, walk or help with field trips for adoptable dogs, help at mobile fundraising events, or volunteer web, design, photography, or grant writing skills.

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland

What it does: WOBO is dedicated to making Oakland more walkable and bikeable through awareness .

What you can do: Become a member, join its Community Building Task Force, design brochures and other materials, volunteer at events.

Youth Uprising

What it does: Based in East Oakland, Youth Uprising aims to provide teenagers and young adults with health education and integrated programming.

What you can do: Volunteer, intern, attend events, employ one of its youth services (YU Create, YU Work, YU Eat/Corners Cafe).

Sustainable Economies Law Center

What it does: SELC provides legal advice and resources to small local businesses and those seeking to start cooperatives in the East Bay (from East Oakland to Richmond).

What you can do: Attorneys can donate services, join the Bay Area Community Exchange Timebank, volunteer.

Bay Area Girls Rock Camp

What it does: Bay Area Girls Rock Camp provides an opportunity for girls from various backgrounds to come together and rock out! They have an annual summer camp where they put on workshops and provide training.

What you can do: Be an instrument instructor, band manager, band coach, roadie, workshop leader, kitchen crew, or volunteer to work front desk crew; apply to be on its board; become a mentor.

The Crucible

What it does: The Crucible provides arts education in an eclectic, interactive space. It provides classes in a lot of different mediums, including iron work.

What you can do: Attend performances and exhibitions, sponsor an event, various volunteer opportunities, become a member.

Refugee Transitions

What it does: Refugee Transitions provides guidance and resources for youth and adult refugees new to the U.S.

What you can do: Volunteer as literacy coach or tutor.