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Community Development Volunteer Project in the USA - Philadelphia

Community Development Volunteer Project in the USA - Philadelphia

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is Nov 1, 2021

Want to make a difference as a Community Development volunteer in the USA - Philadelphia? International Volunteer HQ’s Community Development project empowers volunteers to assist with local initiatives that aim to make a difference in areas of Philadelphia where people have been lacking access to healthcare, housing, food, employment and mental health support for decades. Volunteers gain experience in a wide range of community development activities while making a direct, meaningful impact on the lives of people who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from AU$886 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, daily breakfast, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Provide support and assistance to disadvantaged communities

  • Discover the history of Philadelphia and the USA

  • Stay with other volunteers right by the Liberty Bell

Apply Now

Who is this program suited to?

Volunteers who are compassionate, caring and committed to making a difference for people in need.
Who is this program suited to?

Key information

Support marginalized & low-income communities
Based with local initiatives
Dormitory-style hostel
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day
Fully hosted experience from AU$886 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 12 weeks
See the birthplace of American independence

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Philadelphia’s low-income and homeless populations have been marginalized due to a severe lack of employment, affordable housing, healthcare services, and mental health support networks over a long period of time. As a result, the number of vulnerable people continues to rise, and support services struggle to keep up with demand. The Community Development project endeavors to provide support structures in the heart of disadvantaged communities that aim to directly benefit the lives of those who are otherwise unable to access food, shelter, clothing and other necessities.

Volunteers can assist in a range of ways and on various different initiatives, all with the aim of helping those who need it. You can expect to collaborate with community centers, homeless shelters, food banks, and missions to address the needs of health, wellness and hunger within the homeless and low-income population. Your tasks may include:

  • Meal preparation
  • Sorting and distributing donations of food, clothing, and household goods
  • Community outreach initiatives
  • Outdoor beautification projects
  • Assisting with other community projects
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Covid-19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting disadvantaged and minority communities the hardest. To reduce inequalities, we must provide better services and support to refugees, migrants, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

Why do Community Development volunteering in Philadelphia with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in Philadelphia you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving access to basic necessities for vulnerable people
  • Supporting local initiatives to help their communities
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining a wide range of volunteer experience
  • Learning about community development
  • Exploring Philadelphia and Pennsylvania

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16-18 are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.

”The program was amazing! Thank you again for your assistance in putting the project together, we had a great time. My favorite moment from my volunteering experience was the project as a whole. I loved every aspect of the program, and I especially cannot wait to revisit our location and see the fruits of our labor. Thank you so much again!”

Read reviews from Community Development volunteers in Philadelphia

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Volunteer Abroad in the USA, Philadelphia with IVHQ


The IVHQ USA - Philadelphia volunteer program has placements in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania. As the famous birthplace of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, this cultural melting pot will allow you to dive deeper and gain an authentic insight by working alongside local people and supporting community-driven projects. Make sure you don’t leave without trying a mouthwatering Philly cheesesteak or visiting the famous Liberty Bell. Whether you are looking for short term volunteer opportunities, or longer volunteer vacations in the USA, the IVHQ Philadelphia volunteer program can support you to make a positive difference while experiencing everything that this iconic city has to offer.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday. Volunteers need to arrive in Philadelphia on the Sunday before orientation day.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). You’ll be greeted at the airport by a representative of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee if you arrive on the Sunday before your program start date. Pickups are made between 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Sunday, and volunteers must arrive during this period. If you can only arrive after 8:00 PM, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

If you are travelling in Philadelphia prior to your volunteer program, our local team can arrange for you to be picked up in the Philadelphia CBD area on Sunday between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM . Alternatively, you can choose to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is hosted by our Philadelphia team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and runs all day. It covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Philadelphia. It includes an introduction to Philadelphia, reflection on the importance of volunteering, code of conduct and expectations, transportation and safety instructions, and an overview of the week. Volunteers travel to the volunteer project sites and take a brief tour of the surrounding area. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

Your first day of volunteering in the USA is taken up by a program orientation, which includes a visit to your project placement to meet the staff you’ll be working with.


Volunteer schedules are varied based on the organization you’re placed with and the time of year. A volunteer schedule may look like this:

7:30 AM Self-serve breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 - 9:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 - 1:00 PM Lunch break.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the project usually ends between these times. Use your free time to either travel back home, sightsee or do some shopping.


Free to use as you wish. Most volunteers head out together to get dinner and enjoy the city.


Take the time to explore the city and its history by visiting spots like the National Museum of American Jewish History, African American Museum, Franklin Square, Race Street Pier, and Spruce Street Harbor Park. You’ll definitely want to check out an ice hockey or basketball game featuring two of the most famous teams in America: the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

New York City is also just 1.5 hours northeast by train and makes for a great long weekend.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style public hostel in the heart of Philadelphia, just steps away from the famous Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, and a few blocks west of the Delaware River. The location provides easy access to nearby shopping and food stores.

You should expect basic dormitory style accommodation. Rooms are mixed gender and you could share a room with up to 16 other 116,000. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds with bedding provided but you will need to bring your own towel.

The accommodation has shared bathroom facilities equipped with western toilets and showers. Staff clean the accommodation throughout the week; however, volunteers are required to do their own dishes and to keep their rooms tidy.

The accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen, library, common area, an indoor games and billiards room and a TV. There are a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarkets, and pharmacies in close proximity to the accommodation, not to mention many tourist sites being within a short walking distance.

The accommodation is equipped with WiFi for you to use. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to access the internet.

Private rooms, if desired, can be booked after you have registered for the program, subject to availability and an additional cost.


Philadelphia is home to the world-famous Philly Cheesesteak and Hoagie and you’ll be able to treat yourself to many local delicacies during your stay.

Volunteers are provided with breakfast foods delivered to the hostel. Volunteers will be able to choose from foods including cereal, granola, toast, eggs, fresh fruit.

Volunteers are responsible for their own lunches and dinners, but with no shortage of delicious food options in the city, you’re sure to find a wide range of food, specific to your personal taste. You may also prepare your own meals using the fully equipped kitchen available at the hostel.

Volunteers are expected to do their own dishes after each meal so please be prepared and willing to do this.


Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
1 week AU$886 Equivalent to AU$127/day
2 weeks AU$1489 Equivalent to AU$107/day
3 weeks AU$1965 Equivalent to AU$94/day
4 weeks AU$2490 Equivalent to AU$89/day
5 weeks AU$2930 Equivalent to AU$84/day
6 weeks AU$3370 Equivalent to AU$81/day
8 weeks AU$4214 Equivalent to AU$76/day
10 weeks AU$5079 Equivalent to AU$73/day
12 weeks AU$5895 Equivalent to AU$71/day
  • Accommodation
  • Daily breakfast
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteering

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of AU$423 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, some meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Philadelphia generally find US$200 - US$300 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches and dinners, and local tours and activities.

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Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Safety and support with IVHQ

Protecting against COVID-19:

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Essential city information

City Philadelphia
Population 1.58 Million
Languages English
Currency United States Dollar (USD)
Time zone GMT-05:00 Eastern Standard Time

Weather and climate

Philadelphia’s east coast location means that the climate is warm and humid in the summer, while cold and windy in the winter. July is the hottest month in Philadelphia with an average temperature of 87°F (30.5°C) and the coldest month is January at 40°F (4°C), though it can get down as low as -3°C (26°F). Philadelphia is partly cloudy year round, with the most daily sunshine hours at 15 in June. The wettest month is September with an average of 89mm of rain.

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