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July 8, 2024

Five Powerful Ways High School Students Can Make a Difference

By: Abbie Downs

Volunteering plays a vital role in building a strong, vibrant community. When we give our time and effort to help others, we not only improve the lives of those around us, but also enrich our own lives. 

At Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB), we believe in the power of community and the difference each person can make. High school students in Central Indiana have a unique opportunity to contribute to their city’s well-being while gaining valuable skills and experiences.

KIB offers several volunteer opportunities tailored for high school students. Here are five impactful ways to get involved.

Sign up for a volunteer project.

Every year, we rely on nearly 20,000 volunteers to help us carry out our mission to help people and nature thrive. Whether you are interested in cleaning up litter, building pocket parks, creating greenspaces, planting trees, preparing mail, or assisting with special projects, there’s a way you can help.

  • Commitment: Flexible; volunteers under 16 should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Eligibility: Open to all ages, with specific project recommendations for those 16 and up.
  • Activities: Litter cleanup, tree planting, creating greenspaces, special projects, and preparing mail.
  • Impact: Supports over 800 community projects each year, contributing to a more beautiful Indianapolis.

Adopt-A-Block at your school or neighborhood.

Tackle the litter on your block. Make a citywide difference. The Adopt-A-Block program empowers neighbors to help beautify their community starting with the city’s smallest unit—the block. We provide free tools and resources, and you commit to keeping your block in your neighborhood or at your school free of litter.

  • Commitment: Ongoing; maintain the cleanliness of your designated block.
  • Eligibility: Open to all community members, including high school students.
  • Activities: Regular litter cleanup, development of pocket parks, and community tree planting.
  • Impact: Part of a network of nearly 1,000 Block Captains covering over 230 miles of Indy blocks, making significant contributions to citywide cleanliness and beauty.

Apply for the Youth Tree Team.

The Youth Tree Team (YTT) is a seven-week, paid summer work-readiness program that focuses on tree care. YTT takes place in June and July. It’s one part improving the community through tree care, one part work readiness training, and all parts the best way to spend a summer. Participants water, mulch, and stake trees while gaining job readiness training. Applications open in January 2025.

  • Commitment: 20 hours per week (5 hours per day, 4 days per week). 
  • Eligibility: Open to high school students who demonstrate initiative, professionalism, and a strong interest in the environment.
  • Activities: Watering trees, mulching, picking up litter, and weekly enrichment activities like hiking and financial management.
  • Impact: Helps maintain a tree survival rate of 97% during hot Indiana summers, supporting KIB’s goal of planting over 3,000 trees annually.

Organize or join a Great Indy Cleanup.

Participate in community cleanups to combat heavy litter, illegal dumping, and debris in public spaces. You bring the helping hands, and we provide the supplies and resources needed to make a big impact.

  • Commitment: Flexible; can be a one-time event or recurring effort.
  • Eligibility: Open to individuals and groups, including high school students.
  • Activities: Coordinating cleanups, collecting litter, and inspiring community involvement.
  • Impact: Helps remove nearly 1 million pounds of litter annually from over 300 cleanups, significantly improving public spaces.

Request trees for your neighborhood.

Sometimes, keeping our city beautiful is as simple as planting a tree. You can work with KIB to plant trees in your community, enhancing the local environment and increasing the urban canopy.

  • Commitment: Organize a planting event and assist with ongoing tree care.
  • Eligibility: Open to community members in Indianapolis.
  • Activities: Identifying planting sites, organizing volunteers, and caring for trees post-planting.
  • Impact: Increases tree cover, improves air quality, and beautifies neighborhoods, with KIB planting thousands of trees annually.

Volunteering with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful offers high school students a chance to make a tangible difference in their community. Whether through tree care, litter cleanup, or neighborhood beautification, every effort counts. 

For more information on how to get involved, visit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

Categories: Adopt-A-Block, Education, Engaged Citizens, Great Indy Cleanup, Uncategorized, Volunteers, Youth Tree Team