In 2021, I was a student looking for volunteer opportunities but couldn’t find any. Most of the ones I came across were for people over the age of 18 or they weren’t geographically close. I realized it’s difficult to find volunteer activities when young unless you have local connections, which a lot of international school students may not have. And so, with the help of some friends, I created an app to help solve the problem.
HelpUp is a free app that connects young people with social concerns and a desire to help with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that need volunteers. It was created by a team of students at Colegio Montserrat; Alex is the tech director, Ingrid and Neha do marketing through TikTok, Dani is responsible for all the legal aspects, and I, Marta, am the CEO and am responsible for finances and communication.
While we initially created HelpUp for younger users, students can also join if they are over 18. It connects all youth with NGOs that are looking for volunteers. We consider HelpUp to be the "Amazon" of volunteering.
- With HelpUp, youth can create their own profile and indicate their interests, time availability, location, etc.
- Youth can then find volunteer opportunities that best match their needs and sign up.
- After each volunteer activity, youth can review their experience and the NGOs.
- They will also be able to gain points on the app, which can then be exchanged for rewards such as educational courses, museum tickets, and much more!
From an Idea to a Nationally Recognized Startup
Two years ago, we had the chance to bring the idea forward in our school thanks to a course called Being an Entrepreneur. It was really helpful because they gave us materials to do market research, create a business plan, and assisted us in the initial stages of the company. It was the “first push” we needed to make our idea grow. This subject was only done during one school year. So, when school ended, we decided to continue the project on our own.
We joined an entrepreneurship contest, Junior Achievement. We were selected as the best young startup regionally and nationally, and we were invited to represent Spain in Gen-E, a European entrepreneurship event, which took place last year in Tallinn, Estonia. There, we were awarded Europe’s Most Creative-Problem Solving Company 2022.
We are now collaborating with several NGOs and are already offering various types of volunteer work in the app: forest and beach cleanups, helping in residences, sports volunteering events, and even cooking volunteering.
We are very happy to have been Spain’s Young Company of 2022 (Awarded by Junior Achievement) and Europe’s Most Creative Company 2022 (Awarded by Gen-E). We also attended the Frankfurt International School’s Changemakers Conference for youth from all around Europe. There, we were invited not only to present the project but also to conduct a workshop which received an amazing response from participants and encouraged more students to be part of HelpUp.
Marta has been selected as one of the 30 Worldwide MYP (middle years program) Innovators by the International Baccalaureate. The program has connected us with both youth and organizations all around the world!
How To Participate
All youth can participate in our volunteer work. Students just need to create their own profile and find the volunteer activity that best fits them.
Students can also join us as “HelpUp Ambassadors.” We are looking for a group of young people from all around the globe who want to “spread our word” in their communities and help us expand globally. If that is of your interest, you can contact [email protected].
If you are a teacher and want to help your students find some volunteering jobs, please don’t hesitate to encourage them to sign up. They will simply need to download the app, create their own profile, and sign up for the volunteer work that best suits them!
If you are an NGO looking for volunteers, please email [email protected] , we will be happy to assist you.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders,” and with HelpUp, youth can start being leaders today.
Students, teachers, and NGOs can stay connected with HelpUp! The app is available on AppStore and Google Play!
Marta Folch, a student at Colegio Montserrat, is a young entrepreneur and changemaker from Spain. She is currently CEO of HelpUp, a social business that she founded last year. HelpUp is an app that promotes volunteering opportunities among young people. When she was 13 she created her first social initiative, Clothy, a movement to stop fast fashion to fight against climate change and poor labor conditions.
Willing to make a positive impact, she has been recognized as one of the 30 Innovator Youth Worldwide by the International Baccalaureate. She has also delivered a TEDxYouth called “Youth’s Momentum” to inspire thousands to take action and make a difference in their communities. Her inspiring vision and dedication have made her a leader in social entrepreneurship, motivating young individuals to create positive change.