How the Points of Light Institute Works

HandsOn Network

The HandsOn Network chose the name HandsOn for a reason -- the mantra of this Points of Light Institute business unit is to provide the tools necessary for making positive change in the world. Past projects have included wheelchair ramp installations, watershed construction and the implementation of tutoring programs.

Comprised of nearly 250 volunteer action centers, the HandsOn Network has partners reaching out to locations in all 50 states, as well as in 10 countries. It's the largest volunteer network in the nation. HandsOn is responsible for connecting volunteer programs with tools for success and for connecting volunteers with programs that need them. The network sponsors programs for impoverished families, communities, businesses, schools and more [source: HandsOn].

Some of HandsOn's more recognizable, nationwide programs include:

  • AmeriCorps Volunteers to Service America (VISTA) - An organization founded in 1965 that takes on full-time volunteers who donate at least one year of their time to fighting poverty in America. Since VISTA's inception, it has attracted more than 170,000 volunteers [source: AmeriCorps].
  • Earned Income Tax Credit Initiative - This is a federally run grant program that provides financial assistance to families with incomes significantly below the national poverty line. And since this program began in the late '90s, the EITC Initiative has relied on local volunteers to run its service centers [source: Points of Light].
  • HandsOn Schools - The goal of this service program is to improve the learning conditions of grammar schools throughout the United States. Through this initiative, schools are renovated, and equipped with better technology and programs that support civic learning. Just a handful of the cities where schools have improved because of HandsOn volunteers include: Baton Rouge, LA; Buffalo, NY; Minneapolis, MN; Fontana, CA; and Phoenix, AZ [source: HandsOn Schools].

By definition, nonprofit organizations don't make any money. But even nonprofits need funds to keep active. To find out how nonprofits can turn a quick profit, see the next page.