Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward launched in 2015 and is a grant fund that supports ongoing sustainable development projects in ISA Service-Learning program locations. Grants are awarded directly to our service-learning community partner organizations. All ISA students can contribute to the grant fund through a $5 donation in the payment section of their ISA Student Portal. 100% of donations go towards funding these sustainable development projects.

ISA Service-Learning students play an important role in the success of this program by collaborating with their organization supervisors, local community members and ISA resident staff to submit a grant proposal on their host organization's behalf. Through targeted research, students dive deeper into the social issues being addressed at their host organizations and gain valuable experience in the grant writing process. Pay It Forward is just another way students can contribute to the missions of our community partner organizations around the world.

The Pay It Forward program was twice nominated for the Go Abroad Innovation in Philanthropy Award.

Projects Funded by Pay It Forward

Community Garden at Patio Volantín in Valparaíso, Chile

The first partner organization to receive a grant was Patio Volantin in Vaparaiso, Chile in 2015 for a community gathering space. The director of the community exchange center collaborated with local artists, community members and ISA students to build a colorful community garden and renovated green space primarily out of recycled materials in an abandon building lot that was destroyed during a devastating earthquake in 2010. The space is used for outdoors classes, recreational activities, concerts, and community events.

Mobile Library at Escuela Santiago in Heredia, Costa Rica

Escuela Santiago in Heredia, Costa Rica received the grant to fund a mobile library. An ISA Service-Learning student observed that the school where she was completing her service didn't have a library. She worked with the head social worker at the school to conduct a survey on the number of books the students had at home, which on average ranged from 0-2. The student proposed a mobile library based on an idea that she had seen at public school in Chicago. Escuela Santiago's mobile library goes from classroom to classroom every week serving grades K-6 and teachers reported more students reading.

Knitting Machines at Mundo Libre in Lima, Peru

Mundo Libre was founded in 1985 to address the growing problem of drug-addicted children living on the streets in Peru by helping to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society. The treatment program is an integrated approach including education, therapy, medical attention, and skill-based training. The knitting machines purchased through the Pay it Forward grant will be integrated into the center’s already existing therapy and skill-training programs, which are part of Mundo Libre Therapeutic Community Treatment Programs.

Sensory Garden at Galway Autism Partnership in Galway, Ireland

In 2018, the Pay it Forward Grant went toward developing a Community Sensory Garden in Galway, Ireland. The idea was proposed by two ISA Service-Learning students in collaboration with their host organization, Galway Autism Partnership (GAP). The Community Sensory Garden provides a stimulating sensory experience for GAP service-users and visitors of all ages. Sensory gardens have been linked with stress alleviation, enhanced well-being and the promotion of social participation for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Opening up the space to the public will also serve to increase awareness of spectrum disorders.

Music Program at Anassi Cultural Center in Meknes, Morocco

Our most recent recipient of the Pay It Forward grant went to the Annasi Cultural Center in Meknes, Morocco. The Anassi Cultural Center is a community-driven organization that provides educational classes and workshops to all ages and plays an important role in preserving the local culture of the community. This grant was dedicated to purchasing both traditional and Western musical instruments as well as essential classroom materials to better organize the designated space for music instruction and performances.

student reparing sidewalk
Mundo Libre Lima
girl on knitting machine in Lima
Students learning to play piano