The Iowa Youth Writing Project is a volunteer-powered community outreach organization that creates fun, engaging, and meaningful creative writing programming for schools, after-school programs, community centers, residential treatment facilities, and shelters.

Volunteer With Us 

Volunteering with the IYWP

  • Why should I volunteer?
    • Meaningful relationships with children and fellow volunteers
    • Break out of the University bubble
    • Inspire a child!
  • What is a typical classroom like?
    • The same group of 4-6 IYWP volunteers visits every site every week
    • 10-20 kids per group
    • Writing Club lasts one hour
  • What if I’ve never worked with kids before? What if I’m not an English major/writer/etc?
    • No problem! We welcome people with any range of experience and from all disciplines.
  • What kind of volunteer options do you have?
    • Writing Club: Volunteer one hour per week (+ commute) 
    • Special Events: Volunteer occasionally (say, once every six weeks) for 3-4 hours at a time

What to expect

  • Classroom settings are casual. Remember, this is not school. The IYWP aims to inspire students and create a safe and appreciative space for them to express themselves. We don’t assign homework, give detentions, or grade student work.
  • You will always be prepared. Each week, someone in your group (perhaps you!) will draft a lesson plan and disseminate it to all volunteers. You will never be alone with students. You will never be without a road map.
  • Your Site Coordinator is your friend. Every week, your Site Coordinator will arrange a carpool to the site, make sure everyone has seen the lesson plan, ensure there is a leader for the week, and gather any extra supplies you may need.

Our [Great] Expectations

  • Respect students’ ideas, autonomy, and limits. We take this very seriously. IYWP writing clubs are a place where students’ ideas are held up to the light. In keeping with our mission of empowerment, we are radically inclusive in our approach.
  • Respect students’ privacy. No matter how cute they are, IYWP students cannot appear on your social media, even if it’s a private or restricted post.
  • Communication with your Site Coordinator. Life happens. We expect that sometime in the course of your volunteering with the IYWP, you will have days when you cannot make your volunteering commitment. Please communicate this in advance; there are children on the other end of this.

What now?

  • If you haven’t done so already, please fill out our volunteer application. This short survey will ask you when you’re available to volunteer, which age group(s) you’d prefer to work with, and whether you have any teaching background (not required!).
  • Site-Specific Training. After you fill out our volunteer application, we will give you a list of potential sites that would be a good match for you. Once you choose a site, you will be specifically trained to work with the youth there.
  • Tell a friend! The IYWP is bouncing back from two and a half years of online programming. We’re feeling energetic, and we’re hoping to get as many volunteers as possible. If you know someone who might be interested in working with us, direct them to!


IYWP Volunteer Handbook

Learn all the basics with this comprehensive handbook created specially for IYWP Volunteers that includes tips on getting started, classroom discipline, how to write a lesson plan, and tricks for when an activity isn’t going as planned.

IYWP Volunteer Handbook