48. Build a School in a Foreign Country

Reader Poll: Philanthropy

Aug 26, 2010
Outside Magazine

Shannon Galpin speaking with students at a boys' school she visits often. In 2009, Mountain2Mountain delivered supplies to the school to help keep it running and set up a computer lab there in 2010.    Photo: By Shahram Shahimy

First, volunteer with an NGO or nonprofit in the country you want to help (guidestar.org is a good source). While there, plan to meet with local leaders to see what's really needed. "If locals are not brought in, often that's when you see schools left unattended, teachers that aren't getting paid, and projects that kind of disintegrate," says Shannon Galpin, president and COO of Mountain2Mountain (mountain2mountain.org), a Colorado-based nonprofit that builds schools in Afghanistan. Finding teachers is one of the biggest challenges. Try recruiting recent graduates from a local university. The last piece: fundraising. See item 40 for tips on this. Or, if you'd rather join an in-progress project, choose the region you're passionate about and scour the Internet.