buildOn Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect gift for friends and family? Spread holiday joy while helping buildOn break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations. Shop cool gifts from the buildOn Store, where 100% of proceeds supports our programs. Or pickup just about anything from and up to 8% of the purchase price goes to support buildOn programs.

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Or check out a few gifts we recommend…

buildOn Gear

We’ve got cool swag for the hardcore buildOn fan or the friend you know appreciates a gift that supports global service and education. Give your friends and family a gift that gives back.

Breaking Grounds Coffee

Our exclusive Breaking Grounds Coffee is fair trade, organic and helps build schools in the region of Nicaragua where it’s grown. Whole bean or ground.

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buildOn Mug

Start each day with a reminder that you can change the world. Holds 11 oz. of any drink, but we recommend filling yours with some Breaking Grounds Coffee.

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buildOn T-Shirts

Show your service style with the classic black buildOn t-shirt. Seen on backs of do-gooders from the Bronx to Burkina Faso. 100% cotton. 1,000% awesome.

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The buildOn Book

The incredible buildOn origin story, as told by our Founder & CEO Jim Ziolkowski. Makes the perfect gift for anyone interested in social impact.

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buildOn Water Bottle

Everyone who’s built schools with us knows – water is key. Keep yours cool while repping buildOn with this 20 oz. aluminum water bottle.

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buildOn Hope Shades

Hope Shades donates to a cause each time you purchase a their sun specs, and these red and wood finished pair support buildOn!

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Gifts for the Trekking Adventurer

We’re breaking ground on a new school every two days in seven developing countries, which means we spend a ton of time in the field. That equals lots of time on the road, lots of time with electricity limitations, and lots of time to reflect. Here are a few of the items the adventure traveler in your life shouldn’t go without.

How to Pack for Any Trip

Lonely Planet’s guide to packing for any any trip, no matter what you’re doing or where you’re going in the world.

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Personalized Passport Holder

Protect your precious passport with a customized cover. Dozens of styles you can personalize to make your own.

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Pocket Travel Blanket

Ultra-light and compact, this travel blanket keeps you warm in a pinch, whether you’re camping outside or on the airport floor.

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Adventure Travel Wallet

Keep your travel stuff organized and yourself protected from theft or identity theft with this wallet that looks cool too.

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Travel Journal for the Curious

This colorful illustrated journal provides tons of space to reflect and lots of inspiration to spark your curiosity.

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4-In-1 International Plug Adapter

Never get stuck without a plug, no matter where you are. This power plug adapter provides four options to cover you in 150 countries!

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Reads We Recommend

Reading is something we’re obviously very passionate about. Not only is buildOn spreading literacy around the world, we’re also taking tons of inspiration from great books like these. Pick one up for someone who’s passionate about service and education.

The Book of Joy

The Dalai Lama has been an inspiration to buildOn from the start. Here he teams with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to share how to be joyful in the face of suffering

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Founder of NYC’s first public school for boys, David Banks has advised U.S. senators on education issues, and he’s also served on buildOn’s board. A favorite of buildOn staff.

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What to Do When It’s Your Turn

Another buildOn staff favorite (our entire team read it!) from another trusted buildOn advisor. Seth Godin calls to do the work we’re hiding from in this beautiful illustrated book.

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The Boy Who Harnessed Wind

This incredible and inspiring story from Malawi proves the power of learning and what can be achieved when resourcefulness and literacy meet to do good in the world.

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Rad Women Worldwide

Educational and inspirational, this gift-worthy bestseller is a bold, illustrated collection of 40 biographical profiles showcasing extraordinary women from across the globe.

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I Am Malala

An inspiration to all of us on the front lines of the fight against illiteracy. If you know someone who’s passionate about education and hasn’t read this book, buy it now!

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Gifts for the Photo Fiend

Taking photos and capturing amazing memories is one our favorite parts about serving at home and abroad. These gift ideas are perfect for the amateur or pro.

Smartphone Clip-On Lenses

Take your smartphone photos to the next level with lenses for 12x zoom, fisheye effect and wide angle shots. Fits most current smartphones.

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Polaroid Instant Camera

One of our favorites for when you’re meeting new friends you want to instantly share photos with, but digital sharing isn’t an option.

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Portable Hard Drive

Never run out of space on your camera when you’re out in the field. This portable hard drive holds 1TB of photos!

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Flexible Smartphone Tripod

Get the perfect shot, even on your smartphone. This flexible tripod comes with a bluetooth remote for timing your shots perfectly.

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Take Great Photos

Learn the tips and tricks every photographer should know. After reading this, your photos will be taken to the next level.

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GoPro Hero3+

One of our favorite gadgets. This waterproof adventure camera is an essential tool for taking great action videos from the field.

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Fun in Any Language

No matter where we go, no matter how significant the language barrier, pulling out these games is always the best way to break the ice with new friends of all ages. No translator required.


For 25 years, we’ve been building Jenga towers and knocking them down from Nepal to Nicaragua. Fun for all ages.

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Connect 4

If you can tall black from red and count to four, you can play this classic game,
no matter what language you speak!

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The classic card game that has led to many late nights and epic games between Trek volunteers and their host families.

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