Our Approach to Community Service

We take a comprehensive approach to service, working with community partners from the design process through to monitoring and evaluation.

Through responsible travel and well-designed service initiatives, our students comprehend pressing social and environmental challenges at a global level, and are able to contribute to efforts that combat these challenges at a local level. We take a comprehensive approach to community service, working with community partners from the design process through to monitoring and evaluation. Each year, we publish a global impact report that presents our progress, accomplishments, and goals for the future.

Partnership-Based Service Approach

1) Identify and Design Projects with Local Partners
We spend time with our local partners and community members on the ground to understand their priorities. In collaboration with partner communities, we design projects that both address needs and build on community strengths.

2) Provide Students Opportunities to Engage
We collaborate with our partners to create well-defined roles for our students that harness their skills and ensure they make a meaningful contribution. Students can select their gap semester based on their interests and skill sets, maximizing their experience and the success of our service initiatives.

3) Work Together to Achieve Goals
Our students join the efforts of our local partners during their programs and work collaboratively to achieve project goals. Both students and communities utilize the unique skills they bring and learn from and about each other.

4) Monitor and Evaluate
We conduct regular formal and informal evaluations with project partners and beneficiaries, evaluate both the process and impact of our ongoing initiatives, and consistently use feedback to improve project design and implementation.

5) Long-Term Partnerships and Sustainability
We establish partnerships with a long-term view, recognizing that real change can take time. We provide ongoing support to partners and projects, take on initiatives in a range of areas, and work to ensure a lasting impact.

Five Areas of Focus

1) Education

We work with schools to upgrade facilities and enrich student learning through English tutoring, computer lessons, and arts and sports programs.

2) Infrastructure

A variety of initiatives fall under this focus, including the installation of water systems and the construction or repairing of community facilities and homes.

3) Environment

We collaborate with local organizations and national parks to support efforts in environmental conservation and restoration, wildlife protection, and animal welfare.

4) Community Health and Social Services

We partner with health and social service providers in both rural and urban areas. Working alongside these professionals, we support community health screenings, nutrition programs, and other service initiatives.

5) Economic Development

Working with non-governmental organizations or identifying local communities directly, our economic development initiatives contribute to projects that begin or improve small family businesses.

Responsible Travel

We believe travel can support sustainable growth around the world. To support this goal, we are committed to decreasing our environmental footprint, stimulating local economies, providing direct support for community projects, and teaching our students responsible travel practices. We journey to locations off the tourist track, buy goods from locally-owned businesses, partner with community organizations, and respect cultures and customs. Our programs actively support education, infrastructure development, job growth, and other community initiatives.

We have partnered with Sustainable Travel International, a global NGO, to evaluate our ongoing impact and to help us operate in the most responsible manner possible.

Sustainable Travel International is honored to work with Rustic Pathways on their sustainable development initiatives. Over the last 18 months, our organizations have worked together to examine the full impact of their work around the world. It is clear Rustic Pathways is improving lives through tourism by building partnerships and conducting voluntourism in a sustainable manner.

Brian T. Mullis, Founder and CEO, Sustainable Travel International

The Rustic Pathways Foundation

The Rustic Pathways Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to harness the passion, energy, and generosity of the Rustic Pathways community to drive forward meaningful community-prioritized development initiatives in the areas of education, infrastructure, community health, social services, and economic development in the United States and abroad.

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