Frequently Asked Questions

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The Basics

What does B3 do?

Builders Beyond Borders (B3) engages high school students in local and global community service projects. Each year, student and adult volunteers perform approximately 20,000 hours of community service between local projects and those completed abroad. During the spring of each year, B3 teams travel to developing nations to work alongside communities to build much needed facilities. We also immerse our participants in the culture, history, and environment of our host country.

Can anyone build?

Absolutely! We don’t expect participants to be expert builders, but we do ask that they work hard and be prepared to learn and explore. You can expect to lay block, mix cement, bend rebar, dig trenches for aqueducts, etc.

Who can participate?

Any high school student can be a member. Currently, over 300 students from more than 20 high schools participate in the B3 program. Students are expected to attend meetings and complete community service projects with their teams throughout the year. Travel to our office and/or the surrounding neighborhoods may be necessary.

How do I apply?

Please visit our Join Us page for more details about applications and getting involved.

When is it?

Since the majority of our students live in Fairfield County,  the B3 program is scheduled around our local public school calendar. Applications are accepted and processed during the summer months, and the first meeting takes place in August. Local service projects are scheduled throughout the year.  The trip abroad occurs during spring vacations in February, March and April. Click here for our calendar.

What is the time commitment?

Students must complete local community service and attend team meetings throughout the year. Trips are typically nine days, including travel time. In addition, we ask that students help with our fundraising event in the spring, to which all B3 families and friends are invited. Prior to traveling with us, all participants must fulfill 6 hours of community service  on local projects organized by B3.

Where does B3 go?

B3 has volunteered in many places, near and far. While local service projects are focused in southwestern Connecticut, our international projects take us a little farther from home. Since our founding in 1993, we’ve worked in some of the most overlooked communities in Nicaragua, Peru, Guatemala, Guyana, Ecuador, Tobago, Honduras, Chile, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Brazil.

What about funding?

As part of their commitment to B3 and service, students must earn their own way. Advisors and B3 staff are available to help guide students through fundraising campaigns, and milestones are set throughout the year. For more on funding, Click here.

Travel Questions

Will I need a passport/visa?

Yes. Most countries we visit require a passport valid for at least six months after our return date. Some countries also require a special visa to enter. More specific information is provided during the application process.

How can I get a passport?

Passport regulations vary from country to country, but click here to renew or apply for a US passport.

What about inoculations?

Requirements and recommendations vary from country to country. We work closely with the Center for Disease Control and our local Health District to ensure that all of our participants have the opportunity receive the necessary inoculations and/or medications. We offer clinics at our office for the convenience of our members.

Is it safe?

The safety of participants is B3′s first priority. We personally conduct site inspection trips to thoroughly research potential destinations and verify the locations are safe and economically and politically stable. We investigate medical facilities, housing, and food preparation; we tour the communities where we will work and live; we consider each building project and any potential safety concerns; we develop contingency plans and travel with at least two local translators/guides. Each team is accompanied by six adult advisors to ensure a safe and healthy trip for all.

What about the language barrier?

Often, just a smile and a few simple words can bridge the communication gap. But in case that doesn’t work, we always travel with translators.

How long are the trips?

Trips are typically 9 days, including travel time.

Can I travel with a friend?

We do our best to accommodate these requests. During the application process, each student is allowed to choose at least one other person they’d like to travel with (if you have a group of friends you’d like to travel with, make sure you include each other’s names). Keep in mind, B3 is always a great way to make new friends and build relationships that last a lifetime.

Funding

How much funding do students raise?

An initial deposit (typically $500-$700) is due with the application, and students are responsible for raising the remainder. For the 2013-2014 year, students raised a total of $2,850 (including the deposit), which includes construction materials, transportation, and accommodations as well as needed materials throughout the year. Please note, the actual cost per student is over $3,000, and B3 recovers the remainder through grants, fundraising events and the support of our community.

How do students fundraise?

B3 guides students through the fundraising process by helping them with letter writing/online campaigns and offering various opportunities to sell merchandise. Milestones set throughout the year helps ensure students are on target to meet their goal.

Can a parent pay for the trip?

B3 believes that fundraising is an important aspect of our program. By earning their way, students gain a sense of ownership in their project and become more invested in the work. In addition, it helps them understand the nonprofit world and what it takes to accomplish your objectives.

Where does B3′s additional funding come from?

We receive support from grants, corporations, and the generosity of our community. If you’d like to make a donation, please click here.

Local Projects

How does B3 serve its local community?

Each student is required to volunteer with their team on local community service projects scheduled throughout the year. In total, B3 provides nearly 2,500 hours of local service annually. Projects vary but are typically organized in collaboration with other organizations in the area, including Green Village Initiative, CLASP Family Homes, Al’s Angels, Operation Hope, and other partners.

What kind of local projects does B3 undertake?

Similar to our international program, we look for projects that make a big difference for a community at large. Although we occasionally make exceptions to assist individuals and families in need, we believe that we make a bigger impact when working for or with groups. In the past our projects have included the construction of the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park, cleaning local waterways with the Rotary Clubs, and updating facilities at schools in our area.

Can I suggest a local project for B3?

Of course! We’re always happy to hear from others doing good in our neighborhood, and will do our best to help them with their mission. Please email info@buildersbeyondborders.org with any recommendations.

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