Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Update:
At Communities In Schools of Richmond, the well-being of our students, staff, partners, and communities is our top priority — during the COVID-19 outbreak and always. While the Richmond community continues to reopen, schools are opening to a virtual model of instruction for at least the first semester. This will require a reset for all of us as we work toward an initial goal of ensuring that all CIS students are ready to learn on Day One.

Based on the recommendations from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Education, we cannot offer any opportunities to engage with students in person. We are working alongside Richmond and Henrico school systems to assess the needs of students and determine how community members can plug-in, whether it is through supplies drives to basic needs to social and emotional supports. In the current environment, even the smallest tasks can be monumental as we begin to unpack the logistical restrictions.Our goal is to move forward with adaptability, flexibility, and grace through this re-opening process. As needs are identified and opportunities for engagement are defined by the school systems, CIS will communicate with you directly.  Thank you for all you do for students across the region. We feel so privileged to work among caring, community-minded, and generous volunteers. Together we will use this time to learn new ways to care for and support one another.


How do I get started as a volunteer?

The first step is to complete a volunteer application on our website, here: You will hear from us shortly – usually within 10 business days – about next steps, including orientation and background checks.

What is the time commitment to volunteer?

We have a range of volunteer opportunities that fit most schedules, from an hour a week to an hour or two every once in a while. Please note that the majority of our volunteer work happens on weekdays when school is in session. Occasionally we need volunteers for evening or weekend events.

Are there age requirements?

Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. This includes university students who enter as freshman at 17; please wait until your 18th birthday to apply to volunteer.

Can I complete service learning hours?

Yes, as long as you are 18 years of age. Many of our volunteers are students participating in service learning. Your on-site supervisor can sign off on your hours as needed.

Groups of students who are under 18 should contact Will Keenan, Volunteer Coordinator for Richmond Public Schools directly at [email protected] to see if their group can be accommodated.

What should I bring and wear?

Bring a current, government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, state ID card, passport) to be scanned at the front office of the school.

Please dress appropriately for a public school setting when you volunteer. We recommend business casual attire. Please do not wear clothing with religious, political or otherwise inappropriate imagery or phrases.

What kinds of work do volunteers do?

We couldn’t provide the support our students need without our amazing volunteers! Volunteers act as mentors, reading buddies, lunch buddies, and administrative helpers. They assist at events such as family nights and field trips, and so much more!

I filled out an application, what’s next?

Here are the steps to volunteering with CIS:

  1. Complete our online application

  2. Complete our one-hour orientation session (when we receive your application we will email you a link to sign up for orientation)

  3. Complete your background check (we will discuss background checks at orientation in more detail – background checks typically clear within a week)

  4. Once your background check is cleared, we will match you to a school site based on your availability and school needs (please note – it may take a week or two to make this match)

  5. Connect with the CIS site coordinator at your school and get started!

Will I get any training?

All volunteers are required to attend a one-hour orientation held at our main office. This orientation includes information on how to work within the boundaries of our public schools, how to establish good relationships with students, and provides background on issues of poverty that inform the work of CIS and the challenges facing many of our public school students.

What other training or education is available to volunteers?

CIS will occasionally provide additional optional training opportunities to our volunteers. There are also lots of great resources in our Richmond community. Virginia Mentoring Partnership offers excellent new mentor workshops.

Why do I need a background check? What do you screen for?

Student safety is our priority. Criminal background checks for volunteers help us ensure safety for our students, staff, community, and other volunteers. This is a criminal background check only; we do NOT look at credit history, immigration status, or anything other than criminal activity.

All felony convictions, all crimes against children, and certain misdemeanor convictions will preclude someone from volunteering. Please contact us in advance if you have specific concerns about your background check.

Volunteers who will be doing a one-time, done-in-a-day project do not need to complete a background check. All volunteers and visitors to the building should be prepared to have their ID scanned at the front office.

How long is my background check valid?

Background checks are valid for 2 years. You are also able to share your background check directly through the Sterling Volunteers system with other organizations in the community. One background check through CIS is valid at any school we serve.

Is there a cost associated with the background check?

Background checks cost $25.30 per volunteer. If you have a financial hardship, you may request a fee waiver from us. Additionally, if your church, community group, employer, or other entity would like to cover the cost of background checks for multiple volunteers, we can arrange for CIS invoicing.

How long does the background check take to process?

It generally takes no more than a few minutes to complete the background check process online. Results typically come back within a few days to a week.

My employer/church/other organization has already run a background check, can I submit that?

We can accept a background check run by another organization as long as it is a current (within the last 2 years) 50-state criminal history. We cannot accept older or local-only background checks.

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete this application form and we will get back to you with the next steps. If you have questions please contact us at [email protected]


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