Our mission is to support cultural awareness, service-based learning and sustainable development projects through experiential and responsible volunteer travel programs that inspire local and global service. 

-The ISL Family

Overview

International Service Learning (ISL) is a social enterprise that has been offering volunteers practical experience through medical, education, and community enrichment programs, while offering sustainable aid in developing communities for over 20 years.

ISL programs are open to volunteers interested in gaining valuable experience in their chosen field, exploring another culture, and assisting those in need. ISL offers short-term opportunities throughout the year; no experience or certifications needed unless specifically stated.

Personal Statement from the Executive Director

Welcome to team ISL!  Since 1994, we have served hundreds of thousands of people in need across hundreds of communities all around the world. This is our mission, our vision, our goal, and it defines what we call the ‘Heart of ISL’. Our heart of service is necessary since our company goes beyond the bottom line in defining our success. We don’t have annual financial goals to dictate our actions, we have community project goals and program quality goals. We often work long hours to achieve these goals and to safely get our volunteers to the countries we serve in; it’s during those times that having the heart of ISL is vitally important. We have high professional standards that we expect all of our employees and contractors to adhere to in order to achieve the level of support and excellence that defines the ISL experience. Each person plays an integral role in the logistics of moving volunteers in and around our global area of operations. We focus on what matters, and what we are called to do while working for ISL and providing you with the best team experience possible.

I’m excited about what we have to offer, and I’m thankful we have you as a member of our team!

-Jonathan Birnbaum

Details

Locations: Our administrative operations are based in Spokane, Washington. We provide services in Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Africa.

Structure: We are organized as an LLC in the US and as a non-profit organization within our host countries.

Size: We work with ~120 employees around the globe, and over 1,750 volunteers per year with a satisfaction rate of 97%.

Impact: We serve more than 215,000 people each year and deliver over $180,000 in medical supplies.

Marks of Distinction

  • ISL is the only NGO authorized by the government of Nicaragua to provide healthcare experiences for pre-health and health students from the United States.
  • There are areas of Belize where ISL is the sole provider of health services for the community.
  • Our Mexico programs are collaborations with nizagara-online.net and local, regional and national government health agencies.

A Closing Note On Our Medical Program Standards

In a perfect world everyone in the world would have access to professional health care. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of people have either no health care or limited access to such care.  It would be unethical, and even immoral, if we had a system for delivering responsible care to these people and withheld it.  The delivery system ISL has devised is a legitimate partnership:  our students receive field experience, and the poor, with their permission, receive health care.  ISL maintains the following standards of care delivery: 1) We work under the direction of the local government health ministry—our students are only involved to the extent that these officials approve (and even request!). 2) Those receiving health care are made aware that a student will be assisting our health professionals. 3) No student is involved without the direct supervision of licensed health care providers. 4) We maintain contact with and, in most cases, re-visit work sites to insure follow-up.

ISL provides health care that would otherwise be unavailable to tens of thousands of the underserved each year.  We receive a constant flow of thanks from patients, local government health officials, and university advisors.  We also hear regularly from students who were inspired to become health professionals and humanitarian workers after working on our teams.