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Do It

Pay it Forward: Share Your Skills With Youth in Your Community

Liz Dwyer

Remember all those times you sat in school asking yourself, "When am I ever going to use this?" Chances are that young people in your community are asking themselves the same question. Why not take some time teach one (or more) young people in your community some of the cool (and useful!) skills you've picked up over the years--whether that's coding, playing an instrument, or knitting. Along the way, you'll serve as a pretty sweet role model.



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  • Sovanna Pouv

    I've worked in a nonprofit with at-risk young people for over 11 years teaching them the basics of IT and graphic design. This is the same organization that hired me when I was a 20 year old father looking for any opportunity. United Teen Equality Center gave me that opportunity. Learn more -

  • Jan Simson

    Oh man this is so dope! This is what education is supposed to be like.

  • Linda Keane

    After doing 'career days' in elementary, middle and high school, we realized that design is not taught in the United States. Unlike the UK and Canada who have design standards, only three states have art and design standards in the United States. We created an educational non profit, ( that introduces what design is, what it does and why it is important to human activities across nine connected scales...Nano, pattern, object, space, architecture, neighborhood, region and world.
    We work with students without access to art classes and deliver professional development workshops for teachers empowering place based project learning to raise motivation and improve outcomes for K12 populations.

  • Kat White

    A *great* way to share your skills with middle schoolers is to volunteer at Citizen Schools. A trained teacher partners with you to teach a 10-week class on something you know (law, engineering, soccer, watercoloring). If you don't know what to teach, they have some curriculum you can use. I have worked with them to teach Mythbusters (experimental design), oral history, and dog training. Hands-on learning is so important at that age and I had a great time. I volunteered in Redwood City, CA and Houston, TX but I think they also have sites in Oakland, Chicago, New York, Boston, New Jersey and North Carolina.

  • Alejandro Cabrera

    I am training and teaching a new friend from Colorado how to stay fit and eat a healthy diet. It is awesome to inspire and help others to achieve what they want, together we are one. Regards.

  • Terri Hammer

    I love this! My husband and I just moved back to L.A. (Echo Park) around the first of the month and don't yet have jobs, and between the two of us, we have so much to offer in the way of skills and experience. We're so frustrated with sending out dozens of resumes with little to no response. I've worked with kids for the last eight years, maybe I should get involved (maybe with the library, as some have suggested) and give or share with young people some of what of what I have to offer. What a nice bit of inspiration!
    I'm at the Los Feliz library now. I think I'll inquire with the librarian as to how I can get started.

    • Liz Dwyer

      Such a great idea, Terri. The other thing I'm thinking is that you should get in touch with the folks at 826LA. The Echo Park Time Travel Mart is on Sunset and they're ALWAYS looking for volunteers: --They're so nice over there and the kids are a real joy to be around!

      • Terri Hammer

        Thanks Liz. That is so funny! Last week my husband and I were walking on Sunset Bvd. and were standing right in front a store window with a robot and a caveman, wondering what is this place, so we stepped back and looked up at the sign, The Echo Park Time Travel Mart!
        I'm on it, Liz. Thanks again for the suggestion.

        • Liz Dwyer

          Serendipity, Terri! Their executive director, Joel Arquillos, is a great person to get to know. Good luck--and let me know how it goes!

  • Dolly Parikh

    My husband and I both designers currently have high-school students meet up at our home on Sundays and we have them work on projects while applying design methodologies. I like to think of this program as Aloki 3x3 since the students get to work on minimum 3 projects in 3 months and get an understanding of how to conceptualize a project and execute it.
    We also have another program called Braless Studio where we support stay home mothers to work on projects and provide them support and training required to take on projects based on their passion. While we provide the support to have them succeed, they have the freedom and flexibility to contribute based on their availability.

    • Krafty Dinner

      Wow Dolly! I love your spirit in action here! Do you have a website I can share with my friends?

      • Dolly Parikh

        Soon :)

        Aloki is a design agency and it is at I have a private Facebook page for Braless Studio and have nothing posted for the 3x3 yet. People find out about it through word of mouth. Do you think I should change that?

    • Amy Bauer

      Love this. I was thinking of doing the same thing with hand sewing.

  • zach

    Big Brother Big Sister is a great organization to get involved with for being a positive impact on a young person's life.

  • Candice Mack

    If you are looking for a way to do this, please consider contacting your local library. We have had volunteers lead career, writing and crafts workshops for teens, and more. If you are interested in doing this at one of the Los Angeles Public Library branches, feel free to contact me ( for more information.

    • Amy Bauer

      Thank you for the suggestion. I just moved here and wanted to get involved with the library.

  • David Yarde

    I support a local youth group, and have been inspired to work on a youth program to help kids from not as advantaged areas learn more about creative fields and help their communities.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I tutored kids in writing and reading at 826 LA but I'd like to also just be more involved with my local school and I'm not sure how to do that when I'm working all the time. Do schools ever do weekend events? (I've been out of school too long)