By Riley Kaminer
Many eleventh graders like Xavier Koepf spend their free time playing video games or catching up on TV. But Koepf isn’t your average eleventh grader. In his free time, Koepf is a builder.
Specifically, Koepf is developing Volunteer Scout, a Miami-based startup that is on a mission to connect students with volunteering opportunities. The initial idea for Volunteer Scout came when Koepf was faced with a problem: how to get enough volunteer hours to fulfill his high school’s requirement.
“I have to do community service as a graduation requirement,” he told Refresh Miami. “And about a year ago, I was worried because our counselors were asking for community service hours as a checkpoint, and I didn’t have any hours.”
Some searching on Google returned disappointing results. “A lot of websites out there weren’t helpful for students, and it was hard to find real nonprofits that would count for school credit,” Koepf explained.
That’s when Koepf decided to apply his interests in web design to build his own platform. Through Volunteer Scout, students can find volunteer opportunities – all of which are pre-vetted. “We make sure that they’re not scams or just companies looking for free labor,” noted Koepf. The platform makes it easy for students to apply for these volunteer positions, or save them for later. There are already over 120 opportunities on Volunteer Scout, with 50 students actively using the platform.
In the future, Koepf wants to enable students to create profiles on Volunteer Scout so that nonprofits can reach out to them directly. “That will help nonprofits since they really need volunteers,” he shared. Another feature on the horizon is the ability for students to apply for jobs with just one click.
As a student at the School for Advanced Studies, a dual-enrollment program with Miami Dade College, Koepf was able to compete in two college-level competitions at the Idea Center. He won both, landing him $2,500 and a ticket to present at the eMerge Startup Showcase.
“It was intimidating but very exciting,” said Koepf of his experience at eMerge. “It was a lot better than I expected. Everyone was very friendly and nice. I met a few people that were very helpful, and I could see myself working with them in the future.”
While Koepf plans to apply to colleges both in Florida and further afield, he said that he could see himself returning to Miami to start his career. “I think Miami is a great city,” said the native Miamian. “I can see why people are moving here.”
For now though, Koepf is focused on growing Volunteer Scout outside of South Florida. “I want to expand the platform to the whole country so that all students can use it to fulfill their community service hours.”
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