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Community Development in Chicago

Due to the lack of affordable housing and support, and economic hardship in certain areas of Chicago, the numbers of vulnerable low in-come and homeless populations have seen a drastic increase in the past few decades. 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 rely on support services for food, shelter, clothing and other necessities.

Community Development in Chicago with IVHQ

Volunteers can assist in a range of ways and on a range of different initiatives, all with the aim of helping those who need it. You can expect to collaborate with various 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 food, clothing, and household goods donations, community outreach initiatives, and assisting with other community projects to raise awareness about this vulnerable population.

This is a perfect project for caring volunteers with a passion for helping disadvantaged people and communities. You know you will be making a tangible contribution to a worthy cause and having a direct impact to better the lives of people who can often feel marginalized by society, but are exceedingly grateful for the support they receive.

Why volunteer in Chicago?

Chicago’s magnificent architecture, theaters, museums, independent art galleries and world-famous food make it a fascinating city to visit for culture, cuisine and history. Sadly, there are an estimated 90,000 homeless people on the streets, with over 50% of all city renters are classed as extremely low-income renter households. Volunteering on our Community Development program empowers you to improve the quality of life for these vulnerable populations, whilst experiencing the city through the eyes of a local.

Volunteering in Chicago with IVHQ

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Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable fees from $630 for 1 week
  • Help locals working to provide support and assistance to disadvantaged communities

  • Get involved in a number of tasks based on what’s important at the time

  • Suited to enthusiastic volunteers who like working with others on grass-roots projects

  • Volunteer for up to 5 hours per day

Destination Highlights
United States at a glance
  • Based in Chicago, Illinois

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfasts and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in a dormitory-style hostel

  • Up to 10 volunteers start in Chicago each month

The IVHQ USA - Chicago volunteer program has volunteer placements located in neighborhoods throughout Chicago, the largest city in the state of Illinois. Here you’ll discover the home of jazz music, intricate architecture, museums, professional baseball, basketball and hockey, and of course, deep dish pizza!

Volunteer programs in Chicago begin every Monday. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.

Whether you are looking for short-term volunteer opportunities, or longer volunteer vacations in the USA, the IVHQ Chicago volunteer program can support you to make a positive difference while experiencing everything that this iconic city has to offer.

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

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago. 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 am to 8 pm on Sunday, and volunteers must arrive during this period. If you can only arrive after 8 pm, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

If you are traveling in Chicago prior to your volunteer program, our local team can arrange for you to be picked up in the Chicago CBD area on Sunday between 8am and 8pm. Alternatively, you can choose to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is hosted by our Chicago 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 Chicago. It includes an introduction to Chicago, 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 socializing.

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.

From there, you’ll start your volunteer work. Volunteer schedules are varied based on the organization you’re placed with and the time of year. A typical volunteer day ranges from 3-5 hours. A typical volunteer day may look like:

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. Please note, start times and daily workload depend on your specific project.

12:00 - 1:00 PM: Lunch break. In Chicago, a lunch break typically lasts for about an hour, but the timing and length will ultimately depend on the organization that you’re volunteering with.

1:00 - 5:00 PM: Work at the project typically ends between these times, but this will depend on your project. Use your free time to either travel back home, sightsee or do some shopping.

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

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style hostel in the heart of Chicago, located in the Greektown neighborhood of the West Loop with easy access to nearby shopping and food stores.

You should expect basic dormitory-style accommodation. Rooms are separated by gender and you could share a room with up to 8 other travelers. 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. Cleaning 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 kitchenette, library, common area and a TV. There are also vending machines onsite for quick snacks, and a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarkets, and pharmacies in close proximity to the accommodation, not to mention most tourist sites being within 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.

Chicago is known as one of the world’s best cities for food, home to the deep dish pizza and famous Chicago Dog. While daily breakfast is provided as part of the program, you’ll be able to treat yourself to many local delicacies for lunch and dinner.

Volunteers are provided with a self-serve breakfast at the hostel each day which is available between 7:30am and 10am. You can expect to choose from coffee, hot tea, orange juice, cranberry juice, eggs, cereal, hot oatmeal (seasonal only), white toast, whole wheat toast, and a variety of jams, jelly, and butter.

Volunteers are responsible for their own lunches and dinners, but with no shortage of delightful food options in the windy 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 kitchenette available at the hostel.

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

USA - Chicago

Length of Program Program Fee $USD
1 week $630
2 weeks $1,035
3 weeks $1,380
4 weeks $1,730
5 weeks $2,030
6 weeks $2,335
8 weeks $2,965
10 weeks $3,325
12 weeks $3,850
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee (from US$299) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • To see prices in your local currency, use this currency converter.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply
What extra costs will I have?
  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, lunches and dinners for the duration of your volunteer period, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours, transport to and from your placement, transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program and spending money - volunteers in Chicago generally find US$200 - $300 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses.
Registration Fee
What it covers
  • Most affordable program fees
  • Expert support from a program specialist
  • Full MyIVHQ account access
  • Online volunteer training
  • Comprehensive preparation tools
  • IVHQ alumni rewards
Program Fee
What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Volunteer placement
  • Accommodation
  • Meals

You’ll have the chance to truly explore Chicago in your free-time and the biggest problem you’ll have is figuring out what to do first!

Chicago is famous for its ability to host visitors from all walks of life. With a lively nightlife, bold architecture, delicious food, and vibrant sports scene there is something for everyone.

Take time to explore the city and its history by visiting spots like Cloud Gate where you’ll find the famous “Bean” sculpture, the Willis Tower Skydeck, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Botanical Garden or catch a baseball game at the world famous Wrigley Field.

In the summer, Lake Michigan boasts plenty of activities and slightly further afield you can spend a day at 6 Flags Great America Amusement Park.

City Chicago
Population 2.7 Million
Languages English
Currency United States Dollar (USD)
Time zone GMT-05:00 Central Time Zone

Weather and climate: Chicago’s midwest location means that the climate is warm and humid in the summer, and freezing and windy in the winter. July is the hottest month in Chicago with an average temperature of 83°F (29°C) and the coldest month is January at 33°F (0°C), though it can get down as low as 22°F (-5°C ). Chicago is partly cloudy year round, with the most daily sunshine hours at 15 in June. The wettest month is May with an average of 94mm of rain.

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate on this program, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to to learn more.

All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a recent criminal background check to IVHQ after registering on the program.

Can a foreigner volunteer in the USA? Yes, IVHQ’s volunteer program in Chicago is the perfect opportunity for both travelers from outside the USA as well as Americans who are looking for a meaningful opportunity to volunteer outside their hometown. All you need is the willingness to positively support communities in Chicago, to work with like minded people and a desire to provide help where it’s needed.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

If you’re looking for group volunteer opportunities in the United States, this program is perfect for large groups of college students, high school students, corporate teams and families. Whether you’re looking to organize an alternative break trip, team building exercise, or meaningful volunteer vacation, our local team in Chicago are highly experienced in proving impactful volunteer opportunities for large groups.

We’ll work closely with you to understand the goals of your group, so you can leave the planning to us. We can create a customized itinerary to provide your team members with a well-organized schedule so you can make the most of your time in New Orleans, while making a positive contribution to the local community.

If you’re volunteering with 8 or more people, you can connect directly with our Volunteer Groups team to share your ideas with us.

If your group has less than 8 members, you can go ahead and apply for the program and you’ll be prompted to add your team members in the application process – this will ensure we can accommodate you together.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the registration fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!