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The RUIBAL Challenge: Reaching Urban Individuals By Action and Love

RUIBAL Freshman Program

The RUIBAL Challenge is a first-year-only service program that offers volunteers the opportunity to serve K-8 students in Philadelphia schools and community centers on a weekly basis. In addition to weekly service, volunteers grow in tight-knit community with the other members of their service group, take part in events that talk about social injustices present at the schools we serve, and advocate for positive change.   

We are currently waiting to hear what service will look like this fall due the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  In the meantime, we encourage anyone that is interested in the possibility of volunteering / joining the RUIBAL Community to fill out the very brief interest form under the "Apply to RUIBAL" button!

Here's what you can expect as a volunteer: RUIBAL groups have 2-3 sophomore leaders who drive you to and from service, serve alongside you at the school, and lead the group in reflection and conversation during the van rides each week.  Volunteers are assigned to serve at one of the 5 schools that RUIBAL serves.  Each site is unique in terms of how volunteers spend their time serving.  At one school, we serve through one-on-one tutoring with homework or whatever subject the teacher assigns. In others, it is a mix of homework help, helping with snack/crafts/clubs, and playing with the students during free time.  As a whole, ALL of sites are based in creating real, life-giving relationships with the students. Each volunteer goes once a week to their site.  Volunteers leave campus in vans driven by RUIBAL student leaders at 3 pm and return to campus by 6 pm. In the application process, you tell us your schedule and we will assign you to a site accordingly (as long as there is still space)! Volunteers are placed on a first come, first served basis!

RUIBAL Challenge allows first year Villanova students the opportunity to use their unique gifts and talents to build relationships with students in Philadelphia. Our volunteers also have the chance to build community with other freshmen in a unique environment. The program provides a framework in which students can learn about the justice issues which necessitate this kind of service, and reflect on how the experience of service impacts their own understanding of themselves, their world, and their spirituality.

Students serve in the spirit of St. Thomas of Villanova, who dedicated his life in service to the poor. In the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching which emphasizes a preferential option for the poor, a commitment to the Common Good, and the pursuit of solidarity, RUIBAL calls students to put their faith into action by practicing a love that does justice, building a community which creates change, and discovering a commitment which can transform their lives.

The RUIBAL Challenge hopes to build strong partnerships and relationships between Villanova students and the students and communities they serve with. During RUIBAL, freshmen serve as tutors, mentors, and activity coordinators, including opportunities for sports, drama, the arts, dance... just about any interest a Villanova freshmen could bring to the grammar school children, including homework help. There are four main goals of the program: to engage first-year students in building community both with their peers and with the students at the schools in which they serve; to invite freshmen in Villanova’s tradition of service and to contextualize an understanding of service which is grounded in partnership; to help freshmen discover their own “God-given gifts and talents” which will help them become life-long agents of social change, and to create long-term partnerships which forward the mission and ministry of the school communities who partner with the program.

Here are the schools we volunteer at each week!

St. Ignatius of Loyola / Our Mother of Sorrows: Tuesdays-Fridays

North Light Community Center: Mondays-Fridays

St. Rose of Lima: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays

LaSalle Academy: Mondays and Thursdays

St. Frances Cabrini: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays


In addition to serving weekly, our groups spend time hanging out together and building community. This is our epic Fall North Light Monday group submission that was featured on our RUIBAL Instagram!

A Message to Our Partner Schools!

Attention: Due to the PA Act 153, all volunteers working with minors are required to complete their background clearances PRIOR to the beginning of service. Please email us for specific instructions on how to complete clearances:  Volunteers will also receive instructions upon completion of the RUIBAL Application.