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The RUIBAL Challenge: Reaching Urban Individuals By Action and Love

College male drawing with sidewalk chalk alongside a young boy

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

We are currently solidifying our volunteer opportunities for the Fall 2021 semester. If you are interested in participating in RUIBAL this Fall, please fill out the RUIBAL Fall 2021 Interest form using the blue button to the right (on computers) or at the bottom of the page (on mobile devices). Feel free to also reach out to with any questions! Can't wait to see you in the Fall!

Promo Video: What do you love about RUIBAL?

Here's what you can expect as a volunteer:

While our service program normally provided weekly opportunities for volunteers to travel to Philadelphia schools and community centers to serve at their after-school programs, the pandemic has invited us to be creative and dream up many new and safe alternative opportunities for volunteers to serve our greater Philadelphia community.  Each group is led by 2-3 sophomore leaders, who communicate all the logistics of service to group members, facilitate a strong sense of community within the group, lead the group in reflection opportunities, and serve alongside their volunteers. This fall, volunteers served via:

  • Virtual tutoring and bonding opportunities with the children at North Light Community Center, Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia, and ACLAMO
  • Door to door hot meal delivery to families in need through Upper Darby Community Outreach Corperation
  • Villanova Neighborhood Donation Drive, where volunteers collected non-perishable food donations, diapers and wipes, school supplies, and more for our community partners in need.
  • Created arts and crafts activities, TikTok Dance Videos, and even a virtual tour of Villanova's campus to share with North Light Community Center and our other schools partners.
What united our volunteers was the opportunity to come together as a community, get to know each other, serve together, and reflect on service.  Groups served weekly, attended RUIBonding events (Scavenger Hunt and RUIfest!), participated in Social Justice Forums (a panel on Racial Justice, and an interactive 30 Hour Famine), and enjoyed each other's company as we all navigated this totally new and unprecedented semester together!

Want to learn about what RUIBAL "normally" looks like outside of a pandemic? See below:

Two or three sophomore leaders drive a RUIBAL group to and from a school, serve alongside you, and lead the group in reflection and conversation during the van rides.  

Volunteers are assigned to serve at one of five schools. 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.

Volunteers go once a week to their site. They 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, if a slot is open. Placements are first come, first served.

RUIBAL Challenge invites first-year Villanova students to use their gifts and talents to build relationships with students in Philadelphia. Our volunteers also have the chance to build community with other each other in a unique environment. 

The program provides a framework in which students can learn about the justice issues that necessitate this kind of service and reflect on how the experience of service affects how they understand 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. They build a community that creates change and discover a commitment that 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. First-year students tutor, mentor and coordinate activities such as sports, drama, the arts, dance ... just about any interest they could bring to grammar school children, including homework help. 

The program has four main goals: 

Invite first-year students tp build community with their peers and the students at the schools where they serve

Engage first-year students in Villanova’s tradition of service and to present an understanding of service grounded in partnership 

Help first-year students discover their God-given gifts and talents and use them ” 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: Tuesday-Friday

North Light Community Center: Monday-Friday

St. Rose of Lima: Monday, Thursday and Friday

LaSalle Academy: Monday and Thursday

St. Frances Cabrini: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

Group of students looking up at a basketball net in amazement as one student pretends to be making a slam dunk.

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!

We love our students!

During the Spring of 2020, Villanova students told the students at their partner schools how much they miss them during the coronavirus pandemic. They speak words of encouragement and gratitude, and they look forward to when they can be with their RUIBAL partners again. We hope it give you a sense of the spirit of RUIBAL!

All prospective students who are interested in volunteering during the Fall 2021 semester, please fill out the form below!

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 at for specific instructions on how to complete clearances.