The RUIBAL Challenge: Reaching Urban Individuals By Action and Love

RUIBAL Freshman Program

The RUIBAL Challenge is an All-Freshman service program that allows a group of first-year Villanova students the opportunity to build community by volunteering one day a week (3–6PM) to serve and support children in inner-city Philadelphia schools and community centers.

Applicants for the Spring 2020 semester will open in November and are accepted on a first come, first served basis.

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

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: ruibalchallenge@gmail.comVolunteers will also receive instructions upon completion of the RUIBAL Application.


“This experience has changed my life and now I know that I want to work with kids forever.”

 “RUIBAL let me make friends with people I probably never would have met. RUIBAL means a lot for both the schools and for me.”

 “I have grown as a person from being involved in this program, and hope I have helped the kids in return.”

 “This program that Campus Ministry offered was the best experience I have had at Villanova!”

 “RUIBAL pretty much opened doors for me at Villanova.”

 “Being able to watch the students learn and grow was really meaningful. I love the look on a student’s face when they were able to have a breakthrough on a tough homework problem.”