Gather friends and family,
fundraise, and go to
a developing country to
build a school.
93 Schools Built
115,057 Volunteer Work Days
249 Schools Built
704,478 Volunteer Work Days
166 Schools Built
81,874 Volunteer Work Days
63 Schools Built
47,421 Volunteer Work Days
31 Schools Built
52,875 Volunteer Work Days
161 Schools Built
392,593 Volunteer Work Days
151 Schools Built
187,678 Volunteer Work Days
In many of the countries where we work, women are routinely treated as second-class citizens. Girls are not traditionally educated and there are few leadership opportunities for adult women. But when women and girls have the chance to advance their lives through education, the entire community reaps the benefits.
At buildOn gender equality is the cornerstone of our methodology. From the beginning of each school construction project we champion the rights of women, emphasizing gender balance in both the Project Leadership Committee and in the school’s attendance.
Equality in Leadership
The Project Leadership Committee is responsible for organizing and leading the school’s construction. Members are elected from within the community, and the committee is comprised of equal numbers of men and women.
On the jobsite, men and women work side-by-side performing the physical labor to build the school. Women are encouraged to step outside traditional gender norms and try different tasks, such as laying bricks, digging the foundation and mixing concrete.
Equality in Education
As a condition of partnering with buildOn, each village makes a promise to send their daughters to school in equal numbers with their sons.
Through this effort buildOn has given women and girls in many rural villages their first opportunity to become educated and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Currently, 50% of students in buildOn schools are female.
Before breaking ground on a new school, every member of the partnering community, both men and women, must sign the buildOn Covenant.
The Covenant is a solemn promise between buildOn and each village outlining their respective contributions to the project. buildOn contributes the engineering, materials, skilled labor and project supervision. Each village provides the land, local materials such as sand, and the unskilled labor to build the school. Additionally, every village promises to send girls and boys to school in equal numbers.
Each Covenant embodies the consensus of an entire community, and for many of the women in the village, it will be the first time they have been asked to sign their name. Even as many must sign with a thumbprint, everyone is overjoyed to pledge their commitment to a school that will end illiteracy for their children, their grandchildren, and themselves.
Our Ongoing Commitment
Once a school is complete, buildOn staff carefully monitor and evaluate its success. If after three years all aspects of the covenant have been continually upheld, and the community’s daughters have been educated as well as its sons, buildOn will return to aid in the construction of a second school. This approach incentivizes success, and illustrates to communities the power of teamwork and equality.
Our holistic approach ensures that schools are built with a community rather than for a community. It involves villagers as true partners rather than as recipients of aid.
1 in 5 adults across the globe cannot read or write. Two-thirds of these adults are women. With the ability to read, write and do basic math, individuals are able to improve health conditions, develop more efficient farming techniques, and gain a stronger voice in society.
Taught in the evenings, in the same schools their children attend by day, the Adult Literacy Program gives parents and grandparents the education they need to build a better life for themselves and their children. buildOn currently conducts the three-year Adult Literacy Program in Haiti, Malawi, Mali and Nepal.
Literacy is just the beginning. Through the promotion of basic education, The Adult Literacy Program addresses the problems of poverty, disease and injustice. In each class, students spend the first six to twelve months learning to read, write and do basic math through the lens of health, agriculture, and relevant life skills. Participants then put these skills to the test through income generating activities. First, communities tell us what they want to learn. Then buildOn works with villagers to inventory their resources and create a strategic action plan for progress. Income generating activities have included dry-season gardening, animal husbandry, and textile production.
Classes are taught by literate community members who are themselves trained by buildOn. buildOn selects two educated villagers for our facilitator-training program, in which they engage in a 30-day intensive program about how to teach adults to read and write. Facilitators receive a monthly stipend to teach 50-75 adults, six nights per week, two hours a night, for six months a year (villagers take school breaks during farming and holiday seasons) over a three year period.