2015: A Year of Service & Education

What an incredible year for the buildOn Movement! In 2015, buildOn made a tremendous impact in the U.S. and developing world, taking significant steps toward breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. We’re celebrating the impact we made by looking back at some of our favorite moments of the year.

In the United States

buildOn’s U.S. Service Learning Programs empowered more than 18,000 U.S. students to give more than 209,000 hours of service helping the most vulnerable people in their communities. In the Bay Area, Boston, Bridgeport, Chicago, Detroit and New York City, young people gave selflessly to transform their communities by…

Caring for the homeless and feeding the hungry…12339640_10153720952394788_4344610447335544312_o

Tutoring and mentoring younger children…22373646131_d89206859c_k (1)

Compassionately serving their neighbors with disabilities…16929276432_39555ae296_k (2)

Offering companionship to senior citizens…16988678226_5af8de494d_k (2)

Cleaning up their cities and helping the environment…11056548_10153583038704788_4166362691417863509_o

Advocating for important community issues…16134500650_abd292b81d_k

Ending the violence in their schools and communities.22312050506_1365cadb0e_k

To date, buildOn students have given 1,622,481 hours of service to their communities!

Service not only helped these students’ communities thrive – it also helped these students succeed in their own lives. In 2015, 93% of buildOn students graduated and went on to college from some of the most underserved high schools in the country.


In the Developing World

In 2015, buildOn broke ground on 180 schools in communities in seven of the world’s economically poorest countries – a 50 percent increase from 2014. Throughout the year, more than 110,000 children, parents and grandparents were educated in 864 buildOn schools.

19724901685_d5824183d3_kbuildOn broke ground on 180 schools in 2015, including our 85th school in Haiti.

Much of our school construction success was made possible through the service of selfless volunteers. In villages with staggeringly high poverty and illiteracy rates, local villagers contributed more than 250,000 volunteer work days building schools that are transforming their communities. Additionally, nearly half of buildOn’s 2015 schools were built in partnership with close to a thousand dedicated volunteers who raised funds and traveled from America and Europe to build school with us. This group included hundreds of students from buildOn’s U.S. Service Learning Programs, buildOn Chapter members, corporate partners and teams of compassionate individuals.

16444887248_3feac92d8d_bRaphael from the Bronx was one of hundreds of U.S. students who traveled with us to build schools in 2015.

buildOn’s international impact in 2015 went beyond building schools. In countries like Malawi, Mali and Nepal, buildOn launched Accelerated Learning Programs to get out of schools children caught up and back in class. This new Out of School Child Program served 213 villages with 3,898 children who had not been attending school. In 2015, buildOn’s Adult Literacy Classes enrolled 2,739 new adult students, 78% of whom are women. These classes have given thousands of parents and grandparents the tools they need to build a better life for themselves and their children. Additionally, buildOn and the SolarCity Give Power Foundation completed 106 large scale solar power installations that are bringing invaluable light and electricity to buildOn classrooms. To date, SolarCity has provided nearly $250,000 in in-kind contributions to these solar power projects.

16010319604_5fba7f5933_bA Nepali woman learns in an Adult Literacy Class illuminated by solar-powered light from SolarCity. Photo Jesse Dittmar

2015 was also a year of expansion for our school construction programs. buildOn expanded into new regions of Burkina Faso, Nicaragua and Senegal. Our first secondary school opened in Mali, and a new comprehensive community development project in Haiti included two school blocks, toilets and water pump, and Adult Literacy and Accelerated Learning Programs.

22361878249_615c462217_k (1)buildOn expanded to new regions in 2015, meaning more children like these kids in Nicaragua will have access to quality education.

International development is always challenging, but 2015 proved to be an especially tumultuous year. In Nepal, a devastating earthquake followed by political instability presented unique challenges. Continuing conflict in Mali threatened the country’s stability, while a military coup thrust Burkina Faso into turmoil. Throughout these events, buildOn continued to construct schools and administer education programs because we believe education is the key to defeating widespread poverty that often causes or intensifies conflicts and disasters in the developing world.

17092233557_91ae692b8f_kWe continued to build through conflicts and natural disasters because students like these kids in Nepal deserve to learn.


Building a Foundation for the Future

In 2015, buildOn supporters from all walks of life rallied together to ensure that our mission will continue.

  • * The buildOn Gala in New York City in November raised $4.1 million for service and education programs in the U.S. and developing world.
  • * An $8.5 million grant from Educate a Child (EAC) will help buildOn construct 520 schools and enroll 40,000 out of school children.
  • * 75 inspiring women came together in honor of International Women’s Day to support buildOn Adult Literacy Programs that are changing thousands of women’s lives.
  • * Humble Bundle and a network of compassionate gamers helped raise $640,000, and our partners at Rodan + Fields rallied 90,000+ to #RFGoNaked to fund 50,000 buildOn service learning days.
  • * The buildOn Corporate Partnership Program connected leading corporations with buildOn students to transform their communities together.
  • * Celebrity supporters continues to play an integral role in the buildOn Movement with Travis Van Winkle (a veteran of half a dozen buildOn school building treks) taking on the role of our first buildOn Ambassador.
  • * Thousands of incredible fundraisers and donors gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to buildOn’s U.S. Service Learning Programs, International Programs and school building projects.

23080436611_74c4c8fec6_kThe scene from the buildOn Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City

None of this would have been possible without the compassion and support of members of the buildOn Movement like you. We can’t wait to share the impact we’re making together in 2016. It’s going to be another impactful year!

Photos: Guest of a Guest, Jesse Dittmar, Srijan Tamraaz and Lucas Turner