buildOn Afterschool


buildon afterschool programs


buildOn’s youth service programs engage students in challenging urban areas and show them the limitless power they can achieve through community action. Our staff members run 151 intensive afterschool service programs at 73 high schools in six US regions: Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; New York City; Oakland/San Francisco, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Southern Connecticut.

In each of these programs, youth contribute intensive local service – helping the homeless, seniors and children in their communities – to confront urban struggles with passion and optimism. Our students don’t want to escape their inner-city environments but lift them up, and elevate the expectations they have for their neighborhoods and themselves. 94% of our graduating seniors have gone on to college since the year 2000. buildOn Afterschool is actively inspiring leaders who believe that service will change the world.

buildOn’s after school programs engage youth in three core activities:

Community and Global Education

Community and Global Education activities expose students to socio-political issues relevant to the countries where we build schools. Students enjoy hands-on workshops about cultural movements and have additionally participated in junior philanthropy activities where they fundraise for our international development efforts. Many teens see similarities between their own urban struggles and the hardships faced by people in developing countries, and they are inspired by stories of passion, art, and political action overseas. Activities have included week-long explorations of social revolution, equity and education in Central America with expert speakers and presentations, as well as an overview of woman’s rights activism in the US and in Africa.
The Story Behind the Photo: As part of the education component of the afterschool program buildOn members in Philadelphia learned about the AIDS/HIV epidemic here at home and around the globe. The students then took action by participating in a march in support of care services, prevention education and public awareness. The students made signs to carry with them that expressed why they decided to march.


Every week in every region, buildOn youth service program members contribute hundreds of service hours, whether in small, intimate groups or larger region-wide events that attract hundreds of dedicated teens. Our students re-discover their neighborhoods through projects like these:
-Tutoring elementary school students
-Volunteering at senior centers
-Serving meals at soup kitchens and homeless shelters
-Renovating community centers
-Environmental restoration and clean-up projects
The Story Behind the Photo: One of the most important service projects done by buildOn program members in the Bronx involves work with physically and developmentally disabled children in partnership with KEEN (Kids Enjoying Exercise Now). buildOn students act as “coaches,” organizing and leading activities to help keep the children active and healthy.

Building Schools

Every year, select students and teachers from each afterschool program help construct a school in a remote village with buildOn. Many of the students who participate have never been outside of their neighborhoods before journeying to the mountains of Nepal, or the drought stricken fields of Mali, or the earthquake ravaged landscape of Haiti, or the rainforests of Nicaragua. During the trip, they live with a host family and experience the simplicity and roughness of life in a developing nation without resources like running water or electricity. They mix concrete, make bricks and form walls by hand alongside villagers, immersing themselves in the difficult labor of construction. Many are inspired by the beauty, resilience, and passion for education of the people they encounter abroad. Being welcomed into a community thousands of miles from the inner-city United States and into the home of a village family changes the way our students see the world, and themselves. They return to their own schools understanding the value of their own academic opportunities and the importance of community outreach.
The Story Behind the Photo: buildOn student Danisia lays bricks for a schoolhouse in Mali. Traveling to construct a school with buildOn is an experience that pushes students to their limits. But it’s not the muscle-aching labor, or the bucket showers, or the latrines that students remember most: It’s the people. And the knowledge that they have not only laid the foundation for a school, but for a better life for hundreds of community members.

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