- Communities are the most effective agents for lasting, positive change
- Sustainability isn’t just a goal — it’s a practice
- Engineering solutions create opportunities for communities to thrive
- Leadership is fostered through multidisciplinary, cross-cultural and hands-on interactions
Our approach to development is based on more than blueprints and measurements; it’s based on real relationships and five-year partnerships with communities. We do more than build latrines for communities–we equip them to build and maintain latrines themselves. At the same time, the volunteers and community members learn valuable leadership skills by charting pathways through complex challenges and achieving shared goals. Read more about our principles of development >>
How do we do it?
EWB-USA has almost 300 chapters across the United States comprised of 16,800 volunteers. The chapters partner directly with communities on projects to meet the community’s self-identified needs. Our vast network of dedicated volunteers range from first-year engineering students and engineering professionals to public health professionals.
The project engineers on staff at EWB-USA headquarters oversee layer after layer of quality control for each volunteer-led project team, from guidance on gathering baseline data to reviewing alternatives analyses (what makes that solution the best fit?) to shepherding project teams through an intensive technical approval process.
Sometimes it’s just our engineering expertise and consulting that’s needed, rather than a brick and mortar project. EWB-USA’s Engineering Service Corps offers the expertise of our most seasoned volunteers to organizations in the international development sector.
How do we measure our impact?
The work isn’t over when the well is drilled or the bridge is built. Our Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Program ensures each project is carefully monitored throughout the chapter’s involvement with the community as well as evaluated after their role in the program is complete.
Chapters establish an understanding of the baseline situation in their partner communities and plan for long-term sustainability. They use impact analysis tools provided by EWB-USA headquarters throughout the project process to monitor the project’s progress. One year after the construction is complete, the chapter evaluates the project’s role in reaching the community’s program goals. Finally, impact review teams travel to the field to check on the status of the programs years after completion, which allows us to learn from successes and challenges and be accountable to our partners.
Capacity Building through Education
EWB-USA’s headquarters staff equips our volunteers with the training and educational resources to thrive in their individual and collective roles. Annual conferences offer volunteers the opportunity to share best practices, collaborate and network with like-minded peers.
Education is also critical to the success of our projects. In the field, education is a two-way street. Both volunteers and community members must share their knowledge and best practices to ensure that the final project is sustainable.
“The process of design has been inclusive and respectful of local culture and values. This is not just good design. This is empowerment. This is positive social, economic and environmental change.” – Scott Moore y Medina, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Community Leader
What does this look like on the ground?
In the assessment phases of a project, community knowledge of local materials and culturally appropriate practices builds a strong foundation. EWB-USA volunteers share their technical expertise for constructing and maintaining a project with the community. These cross-cultural, hands-on interactions empower everyone involved to build a better world.