The B2P University Program, a student-led, club-based chapter program at colleges and universities spanning the US and the UK, has been an integral part of all that the organization has accomplished in our seventeen-year history. Avery Bang, current CEO but then student at the University of Iowa, spearheaded the first university team, building a bridge in Peru in 2006. Since then, through what we affectionately call the “Uni” Program, over two dozen universities and hundreds of students have engaged with us in the construction of 77 bridges that serve hundreds of thousands of people. The contributions of those students to our vision of a world free from rural isolation have been immense, and we are deeply grateful for the ingenuity, dedication, and enthusiasm they have taught us.
As we developed plans to meet the global need and accomplish our mission, we honed in on the activities which would require our focus — developing our expertise in bridge building, expanding our collaboration with partners, and refining the way that we measure impact. One fact became clear through this exercise: excelling in these areas left us few resources to allocate to giving university students the world-class experience they deserve, as they embark on projects in communities across the globe. For the past few years, we’ve been on the hunt for an organization that could do just that, and found one in Engineers in Action (EIA).
EIA is a nonprofit that works primarily in Bolivia and Ecuador on community-based water, sanitation, and infrastructure programs. EIA’s mission is to work with indigenous professionals and partner organizations to improve the lives of people in need through community-inspired programs that help to build their capacity and provide sustainable solutions. At the same time, EIA strives to facilitate development of a stronger global awareness among community members and program participants. Since 2016, we have partnered with EIA to help train their in-country staff in Bolivia in pedestrian bridge design and infrastructure construction in remote environments.
Our B2P Bolivia staff and the local EIA team have co-hosted a number of University Program student teams, with the ultimate aim of transitioning the program to EIA management. We are excited at the potential such a transition holds to expand and improve the bridge-building experience for students who participate in the program, and while the B2P family is sad to say goodbye to a group that has meant so much to the organization, we are also confident that EIA is prepared to give the students who join their ranks a meaningful and unforgettable experience.
Effective September 1, 2018, management of the University Program will be transferred from Bridges to Prosperity to Engineers in Action, and EIA will assume full ownership. EIA’s programs depend on university teams, and they are thrilled for the opportunity to add these teams and pedestrian bridge-building skills to their already-robust network of student teams who have to-date primarily focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene projects.
Why is B2P transitioning the University Program to EIA?
As we shift our strategy to scaling and exponentially growing the number of bridges built though community, government and industry partners, we determined that EIA would be better able to create world-class volunteer experiences for University Program students.
Will B2P continue to build footbridges?
Absolutely. We plan to dramatically increase the number of footbridges built and continue to rely on support from local communities, governments, industry partners, donors, and others.
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