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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

buildOn

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, International, International Development, Youth Development - Citizenship

Mission: At home or abroad, buildOn’s is working to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education.

Results: Our students have contributed over 1 million hours of service in the U.S., and have helped build more than 500 schools around the world.

Programs: In the U.S., buildOn empowers urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service and to change the world by building schools in some of the economically poorest countries in the world. Internationally, buildOn is breaking ground on a new school every five days in Haiti, Nicaragua, Nepal, Senegal, Malawi, and Mali.

Community Stories

44 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Mary268

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Build on does a fantastic job of blending local and global philanthropy! Local after school programs help inner city kids find meaningful volunteer work contributing to their community AND global outreach to build schools in developing countries - often with the same kids! Education, community, family and giving back are universal values that buildOn exemplifies!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have done several service projects locally with students from East Palo Alto schools, including visits to a veterans' home and hosting a holiday party for seniors. The best part for me is working side by side with the teens and talking with them about what motivates them to give up a Saturday for service work. They all talk about the community and connectedness they feel when they help someone else. BuildOn's success is rooted in the way it empowers teens to change themselves and their world through service.

I also raised money for a school in Senegal this year and traveled there with my 16 year old daughter to live in the isolated village and break ground on the school. What an experience! We will never be the same. We gave a building, and saw how education does change lives. But I would argue that we received more than we gave - this was an opportunity to connect with a culture and people and begin to understand their dreams and needs. For more information, read "Walk in Their Shoes" by Jim Ziolkowski, and be inspired by the story of how buildOn is changing lives!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love working with the buildOn group to fundraise in support of building schools ineternationally and I love participating in service events alongside the Boston Public School students. This organization is well developed for success on both efforts.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I came across the efforts of buildOn, I was deeply inspired. Through buildOn, I have learned that we can make a difference, and we can break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations around the world through service and education. As president and founder of a high school buildOn chapter for the past three years, I have been thrilled to see how far this organization has come since its inception. Over the past few school years, we raised over $35,000 and sent a team of students to rural villages in Nicaragua and Malawi for two weeks to build schools. Both journeys were truly life-changing experiences and ones that each of us will cherish for the rest of our lives. Through buildOn, we have also been able to have a tangible impact in our local community, which is a very beautiful thing! Go buildOn!!!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experiences as a High School Chapter President and Volunteer for buildOn have been among the most powerful and formative of my life. At is core, buildOn is a nonprofit organization with the goal of empowering youth in America to make a positive difference in their communities while helping citizens of developing countries increase their self-reliance through education. Spread out among more than 100 high schools, buildOn students have contributed over one million hours of service in their communities and touched the lives of more than 1,428,615 people in the U.S. itself. Furthermore, since 1991, youth chapters have helped rural communities in various developing countries build more than 500 schools, providing more than 60,000 children and adults with a better access to daily education. When I came across the efforts of buildOn, I was deeply moved and inspired. So far, my most memorable experience with the organization came in July 2012, when my chapter raised $30,000 and traveled to Bramadero, Nicaragua for two weeks to help build a school. It was a life-changing experience and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Through the buildOn family, I have learned that international service is possible. If we work together, we can grow as a global family and break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations around the world. Ultimately, my experiences with buildOn have inspired me to continue serving until the day that all children around the world have access to a primary school education.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The message of buildOn and the impact this program has both within our own country and in other countries is invaluable. To actually work at breaking the cycle of poverty and highlight the importance of education on multi levels is an impressive accomplishment. To have the actual statistics to back the efforts .... One of a kind.

Donor

Rating: 5

For the past 2 years, I have helped raise funds for BuildOn to build schools in Nepal and Nicaragua. Upon completion of raising these funds (over $150k to date), our group has trekked to these countries to be part of the ground breaking. As a yoga teacher, I try to teach my students the importance of community and service, but there is only so much you can "teach" about -- the rest has to come from hands-on experience. These treks, as well as the opportunity to work with BuildOn in various capacities here in Philadelphia, have been life-changing no just for myself and the adult students who travel with us, but also to our communities here at home that have helped us raise the necessary funds. When people collaborate together towards a common goal, the sense of community becomes stronger. Through our projects here at home, we have helped connect a local community to a global community, as we have worked together to create the opportunity for education for all. The support team at BuildOn is stellar. The international trek team (both BuildOn and in-country staff) are also superb.

Upon arrival home from our international treks, many of our students have either continued to raise funds for BuildOn because of their belief in the movement or have continued to volunteer in some capacity here in Philadelphia.

I am beyond impressed with this organization and will continue to work with them as long as I can.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn is not simply a charity, it is a movement. Not only are they breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low-expectations through service and education, but buildOn is also creating a stronger community domestically and internationally. 94% of their students in programs in the United States are graduating high school AND going off to college, when before buildOn they were merely a statistic destined for failure. I owe my life to buildOn for everything that have done to positively impact my life. This organization has provided me with the tools to successfully live the life that will follow my dreams and aspirations. I believe in buildOn and love every aspect about this organization down to its Staff members. Everyone treats you like family, and helps you find a great sense of purpose in life. It is the ignition to many great minds and is leading the way to bring equal opportunity to all.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's been four years since I first entered the door to the buildOn club at my high school and I've gain priceless experience to what life have to offer. What we; as humans can do. One thing that will forever be in my soul is that accept flaws, mistakes, accidents, accept negativity with a smile, because that means you are smiling with life. The change starts here and I am part of that change.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to buildOn through a very good friend of mine during my freshman year, and I cannot thank her enough for it. Through buildOn, I was able to grow as a person, understand the difficulties and struggles others go through in 3rd world countries, and to simply be more aware of my surroundings. It has taught me how to work with others, how to build leadership skills, and how to get involved. I cannot thank them enough for the experiences I received and the wonderful people I met. I love love love buildOn!

Shane W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn has changed my life. I started buildOn as a freshman after realizing that i needed to become a better person. BuildOn has taught me to throw away those ignorances I had and im proud to say that in April I will be going on my first trek.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with buildOn since my freshmen year in high school. It is a non profit that not only accomplishes great things, but accomplishes these great things while changing the lives of everyone involved. The relationships that i have formed through buildOn i cannot even summarize with words. The knowledge and empathy ive gained are again, unworthy of words. They have helped me develop into a young man who cares about the world. A young man who has been inspired to create a change. I am truly blessed to have been fortunate enough to experience buildOn, from trek to all the other service projects we do. I could write a book on why buildOn deserves to be noted as the great non profit, they truly deserve any award they can receive. It is changing the lives of students from america to Haiti to Nepal to Malawi. Can one person change the world? Surely they can with buildOn by their side.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn is truly a life-changing organization. Its a chance for ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It turns teens into not only people who care about their community but also into great leaders who care about communities all around the world as well as the issues they face each day. Without buildOn I wouldn't be the person I am today. I remember when I used to sit around the house everyday Saturday and do absolutely nothing. buildOn has managed to turn a lazy couch potato into a young lady who is excited about getting up bright and early every Saturday so she can help her community. I used to be scared of adventure and new horizons, but now I'm a person who has faced her fears, traveled a long ways away from the embrace of my family, and lived in a rural Haitian community for two weeks while helping to build a school. And it wasn't scary at all! In fact, it was the most eye-opening experience of my life and probably the most wonderful too.

1 Molly27

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm currently fundraising with a group of people from my school to build a school in Haiti. This would not be possible without the organization's help. I cannot wait to physically be in waiting constructing this school. Thanks buildOn!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn is the best thing I have ever decided to do with my time. I have loved every second of it. I can't wait to fundraise all year and construct a school this spring.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn provides a structure to empower yourself, your community, your world and the world. They make the ripples work for everyone and bring hope.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined BuildOn (then Building with Books) as a freshman at Renaissance High School in Detroit.
I could not believe the size and scope of the impact of this organization globally and locally then.
I was so inspired by their 'lunchroom, school-wide presentation, that I joined immediately.

It was my first real experience performing service that I knew changed the lives of people
outside of my city. What I appreciated most from the organization is that it gave me real
experience in the real global society, hard-hat leadership skills, and my first experience abroad.

Honored and delighted to be a part of this tradition...

1 Coline G.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I interned with buildOn in the summer of 2011, after having been introduced to the organization through friends who were both alumni of buildOn's programs in high-school and members of buildOn University Chapters. I were also lucky to meet their head of International Programs in Nepal in 2010 while he was visiting some of their programs in the country. The organization is a dynamic one, that focus on the impact of education on youth but also on adults. Their focus on at-risk youth in the US, supporting them in their education and helping them to serve their community, fosters a sense of activism and responsibility that I believe is essential for everyone and for the greater good. Connecting this work to their actions abroad through treks for teenagers is a wonderful way to expose them to the world and ensure that they keep an open and curious mind for the rest of their lives. These teenagers then become young adults that keep engaging with the issues of inequalities, extreme poverty, the protection of the environment, etc. in their studies and beyond.

Review from CharityNavigator

Nelvia B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

buildOn is such a great organization that really focuses on making a huge impact in the education sector. Often times education is forgotten or neglected in less fortunate communities and poverty stricken nations, but buildOn makes it a priority to keep education a top priority for all. As buildOn provides support to aid after school programs and international school funding and building they are helping break this cycle. Serving on the young professionals board I'm able to increase awareness, help raise money, and be the change. It feels great to serve and I could not have aligned myself with a better organization that helps make a difference.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 4

buildOn is an incredible organization that empowers youth nationally through the value of community service. it also emphasizes the importance of not only thinking locally, but globally through its school construction programs in rural parts of developing countries.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 5

My experience was as both a Donor and a Volunteer with buildOn. In January 2013 I was part of the Groupon trek to Nepal. I can easily say it was the greatest experience of my life. It was absolutely amazing to be part of something that will make a difference and make an improvement in the lives of so many others. To say I have been humbled by the experience would be an understatement. One of the greatest parts of the trek was living with the villagers and learning about their culture and way of life. They were so excited that we were there and took great pride in showing us their village. We had some hilarious moments sitting around the fire with our host families trying to communicate! This trip helped me realize that a few things are universal no matter what language you speak or what country you live in: every parent wants their child to have a good education and a smile is always contagious. I hope to be able to do another buildOn trek soon!

Review from CharityNavigator

John146

Advisor

Rating: 5

I've been working with buildOn since 2001 and I have been able to see the change it has helped create in both the local schools and communities across the world. I became involved when they had built less than 50 schools and that number has now reached over 500! I currently help raise funds and awareness in the Philadelphia community for this organization and I'm a proud sponsor of their annual fund raising campaigns.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Not many organizations have the ability and the introspection to give so much power and voice to those they are trying to help. buildOn is incredible, and I'm so excited for all the amazing work they've done, and all that they will continue to do!

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn is an incredible organization from the staff to the students they serve. Everyone is completely dedicated to the mission and it's amazing to see students so excited about service. Talking to students, it is immediately evident how much they love buildOn programing and how effective the organization is at achieving it's goals. I feel honored to get to be part of such a great group working to make my community and world a better place.

Review from CharityNavigator

Client Served

Rating: 5

Choosing the right partner for any project is essential for success. Our choice of buildOn let us participate in building a school in Nicaragua which allowed us to match the core values of our company, Listen Up Espanol, with the needs of this community. Our partnership with buildOn created progress and happiness for the village of Nicaragua and a thorough satisfaction for employees of our company. We will build a school in Haiti in 2013.

Review from CharityNavigator

Raymond5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was in high school where i found this club. It allowed me to meet great friends and leaders all over the community from volunteering and organizing club events. it was definitely a memorable and impacting way for me to find my passions.

Review from CharityNavigator

Allison30

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BuildOn is an inspiring organization from the students, to the volunteers to the management team. I feel blessed to be a part of its mission. The message they deliver rings true to so many young students that now have opportunities they never would have realized.

Review from CharityNavigator

Omari R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As an Alumni of the BuildOn program they have served as a great example of community service and sustainability. My Trek experience was a major motivator and source of a purpose for me. Education is essential and a great outreach program for third world controls. BuildOn also serves as an outlet to local and international to other great organizations

Review from CharityNavigator

Patty22

Donor

Rating: 5

I've donated money to buildOn.org, but more important than the money, I got to donate my time and energy to helping build a school in the Far West part of Nepal this past January. I knew from the quality of people I interacted with before going to Nepal that this was a good organization. But after seeing for myself the dedication, heart, and attention they give to a project and seeing the incredible impact buildOn is having in the communities they serve, I can't say enough good things about them. Give them your funds, your time, and your attention and join them in making a REAL and lasting difference in people's lives.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've traveled with buildOn to Malawi four times and Nepal once to build schools. buildOn schools really have a positive impact in these communities. All my trips have been amazing life changing experiences. I've also volunteered with their domestic programs--their students are fantastic! I strongly recommend buildOn to all.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the oppertunity to volunteer working with both the students domestically and trek abroad for school construction. I can say first hand that BuildOn is changing the world. Every aspect of the organization is well run, from the program faciliators working with the students, our trek leader, and the folks in the back office. I am excited to be working with everyone again and planning our next trek to campaign and build two schools this November for a deserving African village.

Review from CharityNavigator

Mike69

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with buildOn for about a year and a half now. I can honestly say that this program has changed my life, for the good. I have become a part of a family that is caring and trustworthy. buildOn is an amazing community service program that allows youth to give back in a way that they may not have experienced ever before. My buildOn family has been there for me when no one else was. This tremendous program breaks barriers and I don't know where I'd be without it.

Review from CharityNavigator

Chentese S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love buildOn so much ! I feel like i can be myself and make a difference in other people's lives at the same time.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer with buildOn for over a year now. What fun! I love to spend time with the young people they inspire and to participate alongside them in community service projects.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have now been involved with BuildOn for almost a year now and I could not be more pleased with the level of dedication and professional of this organization. I went to Nepal with a group of my co-workers through Build-On and found the entire process to be very well thought-out and planned. The trip itself was fantastic and trully a life-altering experience. I look forward to going on another trip with BuildOn in the coming year or 2.

Review from CharityNavigator

Mike68

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I actively volunteered with buildOn from 2005 until 2010, contributing over 400 hours in community service. Their work made me look at the world in a whole new way and contributed to my decision to study international development in college. The staff I met were incredibly nice and engaged. I couldn't imagine going through high school without buildOn! I've seen so many people's lives improved by buildOn, both those volunteering and those who we work with.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with buildOn for about four years. I truly believe in their values and mission and have helped and seen firsthand the impact they have on children in the US and abroad, changing the course of their lives through service. They are one of a kind!!

Review from CharityNavigator

Dorcas J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BuildOn gives opportunities to all volunteers we learn about different cultures as we also get familiar and help those in need. Personally I am proud to be a part of buildOn because of the experiences I've gain. I can take public transportation by myself and became familiar with philadelphia. I am more than glad to be a part of this incredible organization.

Review from CharityNavigator

Duc L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Oh man, what is buildOn to me?? Well there's really is no words to describe it but family. Family is having people that you trust, that you love, that whenever you need help they're there with you every step of the way, that's buildOn. To make a differences in somebody's life is the greatest feeling ever. To leave after you have helped so hard and see similes on somebody's face because you took the time to be there when they needed is awarding on it's on. Like to say, wow, i just helped raise food for people who don't even have a home? or I've just taught kids something so valuable that with it they now have a future? BuildOn when you join will be a life changing experience. Trust me, It has changed me :)

Review from CharityNavigator

Waleed M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I think this is a great organization and it's very fun. This organization helps a lot of people and puts a smile on their face including me.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn!!! what is there more to say then amazing, fun, interesting, spectacular, awesome, wonderful and many more great things. Over the last four years I learn a lot from buildOn from what is buildOn to how to manage buildOn as a club. It has taught a lot of people to care for the community and help out in anyway possible to make it a better place to live. I hope buildOn will continue to grow in size and keep on "Breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education"

Brendon N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization helps with many projects and other organizations. The true determination behind each of the members aids greatly in making this a successful organization. Keep staying true to your word, helping those in need!

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I must agree with cynsan's review!! buildOn is an amazing organization that offers students more than a volunteer experience every weekend. It gives students an opportunity to do amazing work with others that makes the volunteers feel good. The Trek for Knowledge experience is life changing. Even at 40 years old when I experienced my Trek to Mali with my amazing students from The Bronx Center for Science & Mathematics I felt it was the most amazing experience I ever had. The students walked away with a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction that their school will make a difference in the great village of Bla. I encourage you to donate to this incredible organization that changes lives on a global level.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

buildOn is an absolutely amazing organization. I am a volunteer with buildOn: New York, and I'm also the kind of teenager that rarely ever did any good. I mean, it was all a bit foreign, you know? How would you go about it? Where would you go? Why do you have to be 18 for so many organizations?! Luckily, with buildOn, there's no blatant age requirement. I finally joined up at the start of my junior year, and I'll never forget my first meeting. It was with Mai-Len and Umair, Mai-Len being one of the bubbliest people I've ever met, and Umair being one of the most supportive people I've ever met. In just that one meeting, they managed to genuinely make me feel like I was already part of the buildOn team. They also encouraged me to apply for trek. Trek is a fortnightly trip to a developing nation in order to help build the foundation of a school. As far as I know, buildOn is the only organization available to High School students that allows for such an incredible opportunity, free of charge. My time in Nepal was absolutely, immensely life-changing. I may only be 16, but I am old enough to grasp the immensity of the world, and both the good and bad in it. buildOn is good. A 'good' that's beyond definition, a good that's broadened—tenfold—the horizons of many young adults and has helped thousands across the globe. When I got back from trek I did hit a deep depression, it was so hard to be the happiest you've ever been, only to get tossed back into your regular life. I became disgusted with the first world, with myself, and so many others. How could I just sit all day in a desk when I know that there are young girls being sold into sex trafficking, children that are kidnapped to work insane hours in farms, people dying of disease, unhealthy drinking water, and so many other horrors? Luckily a board member of a philanthropy camp that's built on leadership and ethics helped me ease my frustrations. Emily Woods, a member of the 30/30 of Grab The Torch (camp), said she too felt frustrated with being unable to help after her international volunteer work; but that the best way to help was through education. The better you educate yourself, the better equipped you are to help the villagers of Dhurjanna. I want to be a diplomat working in the public sector, closely with nonprofits. I can't change the world, but I know I can better the lives of a few. On account of buildOn, trek to Nepal, I am determined to. There is nothing I've ever wanted more. Please, donate to this phenomenal, life changing organization. We're not a charity, we're a movement. One that currently works to better the nations of Nepal, Mali, Haiti, Malawi, Senegal, and Nicaragua... but we can't do it without your help, every penny, rupee, peso, CFA franc, (and so on) counts :)