Education programs

Help combat poverty and improve young people’s education in Shanghai

Want to help combat poverty and improve young people’s education? There are some organisations that offer English-language speakers volunteering opportunities including Adream Charitable Foundation, Shanghai Sunrise, Stepping Stones China and more

Adream Charitable Foundation

What they do Originally founded as the Cherished Dream China Educational Fund in Hong Kong in 2007, Adream has been operating on the Mainland since 2008, aiming to improve educational facilities and practices in poverty-stricken areas. Much of their work is focused on rural areas or inner city migrant worker children and their aim is to offer a model of easily replicable charity services and products, ‘like McDonald’s in the charitable industry,’ as they put it. Theydo this by offering a range of ‘educational charity products’ which are intended to support educational work at a grassroots level and influence changes in policy at the governmental level. They also organise regular volunteering missions and other related activities to support their work.
How you can help From early September until the end of the year, Adream is sending 18 volunteers to four different ‘Shanghai Dream Schools’, opened for children who don’t have the means to access regular education. Over the course of a 16-week programme, volunteer groups will teach two classes every week on a given afternoon (volunteers can choose if they want to teach on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays or Fridays). English speakers are encouraged to apply by sending their CV to by Sunday 10 August.
More info

Giving Tree

What they do Giving Tree, which operates under Community Center Shanghai (CCS), pair donor organisations such as businesses with migrant children schools to provide both students and teachers with bags of essential items for ‘winter warmth and school success’. The project has been in operation since 2003 and this year they will deliver supplies to 12,000 children of migrant workers in Shanghai. ‘This programme aims to inspire children to one day pay it forward and help others when they are adults, addressing the need in China for fostering a philanthropic spirit,’ says CCS’ charity supervisor Angela Cruz. ‘The bags themselves are personalised for each child. We find out the child’s age, height, gender, favourite colour and toy preference and provide the information to donors who fill the bags accordingly. By pairing up students at migrant schools with donors, we show the children that they are valued and cared for.’
How you can help Individuals can support Giving Tree’s work by attending their Stapling Party on Saturday 27 September at CCS’ Pudong centre where bags and information about each child will be prepared. Organisations interested in becoming a donor should contact; a commitment to fill at least 50 bags is required.

Shanghai Sunrise

What they do Shanghai Sunrise has been working to help disadvantaged children in China enjoy a better quality of education for almost two decades. They do this by matching sponsors with young people in need of support to get through the country’s education system, where families face costs starting from around 500RMB each month after the first nine years of schooling (which are provided free by the government). Sponsors are encouraged to supply funds to enable the students to complete their education in full and there are periodic opportunities for both sides to meet.
How you can help While sponsors for students are always welcome, this is not the only way to get involved with Shanghai Sunrise’s various programmes. The non-profit is also looking for volunteers to help with a range of tasks, including fundraising and project management, event organisation and marketing, as well as communications. Alternatively, you can also host your own fundraising event to support their work. For more details on how to get started and on specific positions currently available at Shanghai Sunrise, visit their website.

Shanghai Young Bakers


What they do Run by Shanghai Charity Foundation and Chi Heng Foundation, Shanghai Young Bakers (SYB) provides disadvantaged children with the opportunity to gain full French and Asian bakery training, enabling them to forge a career and ‘pull themselves out of the poverty cycle’. Graduates from the SYB programme have gone on to enroll at world class bakery schools, such as the Ecole Française de Boulangerie et Pâtisserie d’Aurillac in France, and have returned to teach and set up their own bakery programmes for disadvantaged children in areas such as Tibet.
How you can help SYB is looking for volunteers who can commit to a few hours a week for at least three months. Rather than offering set opportunities, the organisation will match your skills to their needs; roles can include IT support, fundraising and event supervision. To learn more, you can attend one of their monthly volunteer meetings or contact them at

Stepping Stones China

What they do Recognising the difficulty faced by migrant children and rural schools in effectively delivering English language teaching, Stepping Stones’ operations are focused on providing these institutions with volunteer English teachers. Much of their work deals with Shanghai-based schools, with classroom teaching, after-school and summer camp programmes, but they also organise regular trips to provide services in provinces such as Anhui. Stepping Stones say that since beginning operations in 2006, their programmes have ‘been proven to increase students exam results, increase their confidence and interest in English, better prepare students for their key examinations, and expose youth to the virtues of volunteerism.’ Since 2008, they have also operated the I Care Project to help improve the vision of disadvantaged children in China.
How you can help There are two key volunteering opportunities with Stepping Stones: main teachers and assistant teachers. Both of these roles require applicants to have a strong grasp of English and commit to a minimum placement of three to four months. The organisation also holds frequent orientation and training sessions for volunteers. Sign up through their website.