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Volunteering at Schoolhouse

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Types of Teams

While has a full-time product team, our volunteer community plays a critical, foundational role in everything we do. Below, you will find a summary of how our volunteer teams operate.

Official Teams

Official teams are groups of volunteers who are in direct coordination with the product team to carry out a goal that is essential to the success of the organization. These teams typically have a product team supervisor and two or more co-leads. Because they have this oversight, official teams can represent the organization and are eligible to earn community service hours on behalf of the organization.

How are official teams formed?

Official teams are formed by product team members. Before an official team is formed, it is evaluated based on the following criteria:
What is the goal — is it aligned with Schoolhouse’s priorities and mission?
Is this the right time? Do we think this team could bring us significantly closer to our this quarter?
Are the goals of the team realistic? Are the goals best accomplished by a volunteer team? Can the goals be accomplished without continuous involvement from a product team member?

Unofficial Teams

All teams without a supervisor from the product team are, by default, unofficial teams. These teams can range from casual (e.g., three volunteers co-creating chemistry materials) to somewhat structured (e.g., 10 volunteers organizing an effort to reach out to homeschool groups across the country).
These teams can self-organize without any permission or recognition from the leadership at Schoolhouse. However, such teams do have certain limitations:
They must act independently, and cannot claim to do things “on behalf” of
To demonstrate what this looks like, let’s say I’m part of an unofficial effort to reach out to schools in a specific country. Here is an example of appropriate representation (as an independent) vs. inappropriate representation.
Appropriate language: “Hi! I’m a volunteer at I wanted to reach out about an opportunity that I think could be really meaningful for your students.”
Inappropriate language: “Hi! I’m contacting you on behalf of I wanted to reach out about an opportunity to partner with us.”
Volunteers on unofficial teams do not have formal, outward-facing titles
For example, you may be leading an unofficial team and be known within your team as the lead. However, if you add the experience to your resume, your title should be “ Volunteer”
Unofficial teams should organize in the #unofficial-volunteer-planning channel and will not be granted a slack channel unless they submit a pitch and are accepted. Here are some indicators you can use to see if you & your fellow volunteers are ready to submit a pitch:
Your work is aligned to strategic work of Schoolhouse
You have several volunteers interested in supporting your work & have actual progress to share (not just an idea)
You have around 8 volunteers involved on this work, meaning you won’t all fit in Slack DMs soon
You have an idea of where your work will be in the next 3-6 months
You have read the volunteer handbook and feel comfortable upholding Schoolhouse policy & volunteer guidelines
To submit a pitch, follow the following steps:
Use one of the following templates ( or ) or create a custom pitch deck. You can use this as an example of a .
Share your pitch deck with the Learning Community Lead (James) + Volunteer Operations consultant (Alma) on slack.
You’ll be given a response within 10 days.
Work completed for unofficial teams is not eligible for community service hours, unless explicitly stated otherwise by the head of community
Unofficial teams are still beholden to our , (if applicable), & to ensure no abuse of power

Why can’t all teams be official?

We want to empower our volunteer community to have as much impact as possible, and to take action on their own ideas. At the same time, the product team is limited in how much support and supervision they can give at any given time.
The unofficial team option exists so that even if your project is not something that the product team can directly support at this time, you have some ability to experiment with other volunteers at Schoolhouse and try out ideas. Most official teams at were unofficial first!

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