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Group Service Trips bring groups together to collaborate with community development organizations to address pressing development issues. Groups are highly immersed in the culture as they work alongside local leaders and live with host-families.

The trips are structured as short-term, high impact programs. In order to ensure a productive and mutually beneficial experience, FSD provides intensive coordination both before and during the program. For GSTs, project design begins before the group arrives in country. FSD site teams collaborates with the organization to develop a project that can benefit from the skills and interests of the group. The itinerary and logistics are arranged and agreed upon prior to the group’s arrival with input from community members and group participants. At the same time, these trips include a certain amount of flexibility to allow for creative problem solving and skills application that is unique to each group.


Group Service Trips are a customizable option for student-led alternative breaks, faculty-led initiatives, corporate employee service initiatives or even groups of friends and families. We recommend groups of six or more in order to have an effective impact in a short amount of time. Trips are customized for each group so they vary in length, size, and development issue. What they all have in common is they combine outside ideas and skills of the group with local knowledge and resources from the community. For smaller groups who want to spend at least 4 weeks in country, check out our GroupEngage program (see below).


Group Service Trip participants have worked together to to expand access to clean water in remote communities using natural resources and innovative technology; they have brainstormed with local teachers to enhance curriculum in schools that keep students more engaged in the classroom; they have offered marketing and financial management strategies to the community and their host-organizations to ensure thriving business practices that generate income well into the future, and so much more! The possibilities are endless when groups of individuals put their skills and ideas together with local leaders to tackle critical needs in the community.


For 1 to 4 weeks, groups of 6 or more work with a community development organization to advance a local priority at one of FSD’s sites in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. The focus and structure of a Group Service Trip is customized for each group so they vary in length, dates, size, and subject area.

After submitting an application, FSD will coordinate with the group leader and the host-organization to design a program that will have a high impact on both the community and the participants. Because these trips are structured as short-term, high impact programs, FSD provides intensive preparation and in-country coordination to ensure a productive and mutually beneficial experience for all, establishing the itinerary and logistics in advance. FSD will also facilitate 1-2 preparation calls with the group and the site team. We also strongly encourage group leaders to organize their own meetings to educate themselves on the country, culture and subject matter, prepare their logistics and travel, and develop positive group dynamics early on.

Upon site arrival, everyone participates in an in-country orientation led by FSD's local site team to review health and safety, cultural integration, sustainable development principles, and the program details. The group travels as a group to their host-organization and host-families, and are supported by the site team as they implement their work. These programs are dynamic and also include some cultural and tourist activities (though not a main focus of the program) to provide a break from the project work and broaden the participants’ perspective and experience of the country.

Group Service Trips end with presentations and debriefs of their program with the community to both express appreciation and establish a sustainability plan with their local colleagues and community members.

For more information on Global Service Trips, download our GST Brochure.

Contact or call 415-283-4873 to learn about Group Service Trip programs and pricing.



GroupEngage is a program that allows students and young professionals to work in direct collaboration with their peers on pre-defined, community-driven projects. Like our International Development Internships, these groups gain intensive training in sustainable development and project design. Project interests are defined by the group and matched to community needs, fostering a chance to produce long-lasting community impact.


GroupEngage is for those who wish to work with one of FSD’s partner organizations alongside a small group of their peers. With this model, groups of 3-5 combine their talents, skills and ideas to address community needs with their local colleagues. These are often groups of students, colleagues or friends who want to learn and contribute at one organization. Universities often choose this model to break students up into cohorts that promote group work, collaborative problem-solving, leadership, and cross-cultural communication skills.


For 4 weeks or more, groups of 3-5 will be placed with an FSD partner organization according to the interests and skills of the group. Groups are encouraged to apply and FSD and check FSD’s website to see if there are opportunities listed already that interest the group. If not, FSD has more opportunities not listed and will provide more options after the group members apply and identifies their topics and locations of interest. Each group member will fill out an individual application, yet they will ultimately be placed with one partner organization. Therefore, it’s important for groups to discuss program preferences, such as location and development issue, prior to applying.

Upon arrival, GroupEngage participants will receive an orientation with other FSD participants to ensure a smooth transition into the community and to build relationships among their fellow FSD participants. Groups are strongly encouraged to keep communication strong between each other, the site team, and local colleagues. While it can be tempting to bond with one another, it’s most important to build trust and relationships with the local colleagues. The group will work to delegate tasks and work with local colleagues to assess the needs of the community. Observation and listening to community members is key before implementing a project. After this initial phase to better understand the community, group members will work with their organization staff to establish a project plan and carry out their work during the remainder of their time.