Promoting quality education for all.

Celebrating 500 Schools Built Globally, 1 Million Hours Served Nationally

Carrie Pena, 

By Carrie Pena, buildOn

At buildOn, we believe the power of our programs lie in the direct connection between U.S. inner-city students and community members in rural villages around the globe. While U.S. students work to rebuild their neighborhoods through service, villagers around the globe are contributing volunteer labor to build schools for their children. And through buildOn's Trek for Knowledge Program, these two seemingly different groups of people are joined together in one goal: to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education. 

This is why it was so meaningful when, on October 13th, buildOn reached two incredible milestones- one million hours served by U.S. student locally and 500 schools built in developing countries around the world. For our students, teachers, donors, and volunteers it was both the culmination of 21 years of work, and a rallying cry for our future.

We celebrated the milestone with a nationwide day of service, where students across the U.S. - from the South Bronx to Chicago, Detroit to Oakland - hosted literacy fairs for young children, organized activities for senior citizens , and served meals to homeless veterans. We followed the service with a live stream where we heard directly from the community of our 500th school in St. Hilaire, Haiti.

"For our children to go to school, they had to travel 3 or 4 kilometers to get to the paved road and wait for public transportation," said Lionel Mercius, Community Leader. "If it's raining, especially for the little kids, they may not make it at all. For our school problem we have never found an organization that could give us any help to improve this tough situation. When we first heard about buildOn, we could barely sleep we were so excited!"

When buildOn students in the U.S. travel to help build a school abroad they come to realize not only the power of education, but the lengths people are willing to go to acquire it. It changes the way they see their own educational opportunities, and ability to achieve. The same sentiment was clear during our live stream when the students heard directly from the villagers of St. Hilaire.

"It was such an empowering moment to have that broadcast from Haiti, bringing two worlds together, along with having the entire buildOn team and students to share that experience," said Shyon Bobb, 21, buildOn alumna of the Bronx Center for Science and Math.

To read more about our celebration and watch the videos, click here. To learn how you can get involved with buildOn, click here.


Carrie Pena is the National Communications Director for buildOn

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