Mission Statement: buildOn’s service learning programs engage students in challenging urban areas and show them the limitless power they can achieve through community action.

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.

Service is the core of buildOn’s mission. and is the vehicle for youth development and empowerment. Through service, students address problems in their communities while developing personal leadership and teamwork skills. By making a positive difference in the lives of others, they learn more about themselves and the power they have to transform their schools, their communities, and our world. Through service, students elevate expectations for themselves and their communities. The following activities are examples of buildOn service:

Direct Service

Whether serving meals in soup kitchens, tutoring elementary school students, or visiting senior citizens, buildOn service projects connect students directly to those most in need in their communities. With face-to-face encounters, youth develop empathy and compassion. They create bonds that affect their own lives just as profoundly as the lives of those they serve. 65% of all buildOn service activities are dedicated to direct, people-to-people service.

Indirect Service

Sometimes the most noticeable and uplifting difference you can make in a community is to beautify it. By planting urban gardens, cleaning up graffiti, or creating public art, students show their neighbors that they care. Indirect service allows students to make a difference in small ways that can have a big impact on the community at large. 35% of all buildOn service activities are dedicated to Indirect Service.


After learning about issues that plague their local and global communities, buildOn students actively create and implement campaigns to address them. They educate their peers on health issues, they plan walks to promote gender equality in the developing world, and they advocate new strategies to combat the truancy crisis in their schools. In the process, they learn the value of their own voice.

Charity Type: 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

Year Founded: 1997

Location: New York, NY

How to Get Involved: Find out how to donate, volunteer, start a chapter, and fundraise for buildOn at buildon.org.




Instagram feed: @buildon