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- Volunteer Opportunities
Our Upcoming Events
A Cleaner & Greener Oakland Begins with You
Follow us on the Sustainable Oakland Facebook page for information on volunteer events and sustainability news.
Quick links: Go right to the information you need by clicking on the links below, or scroll down the page for all information.
- Adopt a Spot Program Overview
- Volunteer Forms & Application
- Reporting Volunteer Hours
- Cleanup & Beautification Events (including Earth Day & Creek to Bay Day)
- Litter Container Mosaics & Murals
- Adopt a Drain
- Other Volunteer Opportunities
- News & Events
- Accessibility Information
Adopt a Spot
Oakland's award-winning Adopt a Spot program supports individuals, neighborhood groups, civic organizations, and businesses in ongoing cleaning and greening of parks, creeks, shorelines, storm drains, streets, trails, medians and other public spaces. Volunteers have adopted hundreds of sites around Oakland. Public Works can provide tool loans, debris collection services, and technical assistance.
Activities can include:
- Planting/pruning/weeding (with pre-approval from Public Works staff)
- Application of artistic mosaics and murals on litter containers and utility boxes
- Litter pick-up
- Graffiti removal
- Keeping storm drains free of debris
See what it's like to be a member of the Oakland Adopt a Spot program. Check out this video of our amazing volunteers:
Direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 238-7630.
Volunteer Forms & Application
Click on the links to download forms and materials below:
- Adopt a Spot Online Application (works best with Google Chrome, do not use Explorer), alternatively you may complete these fillable PDFs in English, español (Spanish), 中文 (Chinese)
- Volunteer Opportunities Flyer, Oportunidades para ser voluntario, 義工機會宣傳單張
- Volunteer Guidelines, Reglas para voluntarios, 義工守則
- Volunteer Interest Form (online)*
- Group Waiver, Renuncia de responsabilidades de grupos, 團體免責聲明
- Individual Waiver, Renuncia de responsabilidades de individual, 個人免責聲明
- Injury Reporting Form, Formulario de reporte de lesiones, 受伤报告表
- Online Tool Request Form*
- Tool Maintenance Guide, Reglas para matener las herramientas, 工具維修守則
- Photo Documentation Tips, Tips para documentar fotografias, 照片紀錄提示
- Donation Request Letter Template, Carta modelo para pedir donaciones, 要求捐贈樣板 - Template letter for requesting food or other donations for your volunteer events
- Donation "Thank You" Letter Template, Carta modela para dar la gracias, 多謝捐贈樣板 - Template "thank you" letter to send to businesses that donate to your events
*Please note: These forms work best with Google Chrome. Do not use Internet Explorer.
Reporting Volunteer Hours
Please use the Track It Forward mobile phone application or online tool to report volunteer hours and other workday results. Your reports on activities and accomplishments help us tell the volunteer story and improve event coordination. Track It Forward also provides you with a record of your volunteering and a way to view other volunteer reports. Volunteer coordinators can also track on behalf of their groups.
To register for a free account, and/or login online, visit the Track It Forward website and search for your site. You must complete this step before attempting to access Track It Forward on your mobile phone (optional). From your mobile phone, download the free Track It Forward app from these links for Google Play (Android) or iTunes Store (iPhone). Login and find your site.
Cleanup & Greening Events
Oakland Public Works coordinates two city-wide volunteer events each year involving thousands of participants. Groups and individuals of all ages and abilities are invited to join cleanup and habitat restoration projects at creeks, parks, and neighborhood sites throughout Oakland. All tools are provided.
Creek to Bay Day is held the third Saturday in September. Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 16, 2017! In 2016, over 1,000 volunteers removed 130 cubic yards of trash and 260 cubic yards of invasive weeds from Oakland's creeks, shoreline, and streets. Statewide, 52,191 volunteers prevented 541,431 pounds of trash from entering inland waterways and oceans. Learn more and register at www.oaklandcreektobay.org.
Earth Day is typically held the third Saturday in April. Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 22, 2017! In 2016, over 2,300 volunteers pitched in more than 7,800 hours at ninety-one sites across Oakland. Volunteers removed 215 cubic yards of trash and more than 400 cubic yards of green waste. In total, over the debris removed is enough to fill about 4,000 thirty-five gallon garbage cans! Learn more and register at www.oaklandearthday.org.
Ongoing Community Cleanups
Our online Volunteer Event Calendar lists ongoing cleaning, greening, and beautifying efforts. Contact email@example.com to post your event.
One-Time Community Cleanups
We also support one-time community cleanups. If you would like to host one, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 238-7630. We may be able to provide you with tools, post-event debris collection services, and other logistical support.
See volunteers in action from our 2015 events slideshow:
Litter Container Mosaics & Murals
Oakland volunteers add beauty and character to the streets by adopting and adorning city-owned litter containers with tile mosaics and painted murals. See http://oaklandwiki.org/Mosaic_Tile_Trash_Cans for examples of some of these projects.
If you would like to adopt a litter container or paint a mural on a utility box or other public space, please complete the Adopt a Spot form (do not use Explorer for this form, works best with Google Chrome) with a description or drawing of the art to be installed. Once your application is approved you can begin work on the project. Here is a video that shows you how it's done http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCL4I7shWx8.
Adopt a Storm Drain
Clear the Drain Before the Rain
Hundreds of volunteers across Oakland have adopted storm drains to help their neighborhoods prepare for rainstorms. It doesn't take much to keep a storm drain clear. A little volunteer effort goes a long way in helping Public Works maintain over 7,500 storm drains to reduce flooding and prevent pollution of our waterways. When you sign up to Adopt a Drain, you become eligible to borrow City tools and supplies, and you will receive the City's rain alert notifications.
Sign up at http://adoptadrainoakland.com.
Outreach Resources for Adopt a Drain:
Other Volunteer Opportunities
Clean Lake Initiative
Oakland's Clean Lake Initiative supports volunteer cleanup, maintenance, monitoring, and education at Lake Merritt. For information on how you can participate in these efforts, please contact the Lake Merritt Institute at email@example.com or (510) 238-2290.
Volunteer at Lakeside Park Gardens
The Friends of the Gardens at Lake Merritt host regular volunteer events.
Volunteer in the Sausal Creek Watershed
Friends of Sausal Creek has regular volunteer opportunities in the Sausal Creek Watershed, including cleanups, habitat restoration, and plant propagation events.
County, Regional, & State Property
- Alameda County Adopt-A-Creek/Adopt-A-Spot for county-owned land and flood control channels
- East Bay Regional Parks District
- Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway for highway overpasses, underpasses, on-ramps, and off-ramps
News & Events
Follow us on the Sustainable Oakland Facebook page for information on volunteer events, news on sustainability, going green and more!
Keep Oakland Beautiful (KOB)
- Daffodil Days: Every Fall, KOB distributes thousands of daffodil and other bulbs to Adopt a Spot volunteers for planting in appropriate Oakland's public spaces. Check back in next summer for information about the 2017 Daffodil Day event.
- Small Grant Program: Small grants in the amount of $500 to $800 are distribute by KOB to Adopt a Spot volunteers on a competitive basis to projects that clean and green Oakland parks, creeks, streets, and other projects in the public right of way.
Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation (OPRF)
OPRF 12th annual Love Your Parks Day will occur in Fall 2017. Check back next summer for the 2017 date. At this event, volunteers assess park conditions for an annual report of the state of Oakland's parks.
Oakland Adopt a Spot Program receives the Northern California APWA 2013 Sustainability Practices Award
The Adopt a Spot Program received the 2013 Sustainability Practices Award from the Northern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association. This award is given to "individuals, teams or organization that have made an outstanding contribution to promote sustainability in public works."
We thank the many individual volunteers, neighborhood groups, civic organizations and businesses who are cleaning, greening and beautifying adopted spots around Oakland. These efforts contribute to a cleaner, healthier, more beautiful, livable and sustainable City. Together, through Adopt a Spot, we're building community, raising environmental consciousness and participation, improving the quality of life in Oakland while also supporting broader regional and global environmental initiatives.
The City of Oakland Public Works offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. We encourage individuals with all abilities to volunteer. Some volunteer opportunities may be located in areas without a designated path of travel and may require significant physical exertion.
To obtain accessibility information or to request a sign language interpreter or any other disability-related accommodation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 238-7630, or TTY (510) 238-3254 at least three business days in advance.
Please refrain from wearing scented products to volunteer events.