about us

About Us
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Our Team
Our Service-Learning Philosophy
Authorization / Accreditation

Our team serving at the Oregon Food Bank during our recent retreat. We packed over 23, 828 pounds of apples with the Portland community that day!

Mission Statement

IPSL engages students, educators, and grassroots organizations around the world in hands-on service to promote equitable relationships, social justice, sustainable change, and a commitment to our shared humanity. 

Giving Back 

IPSL reinvests on average 83% of our annual revenues directly back into the communities where we learn and serve. In most cases, we have been working with and supporting our partner NGOs and other small nonprofits for years, if not decades.

In addition, we contribute to a carbon-offset program that helps to neutralize the effects on the environment of our travel by plane, and that of our students. For every student who studies and serves on an IPSL program, our organization donates to tree-planting and other sustainable practices around the world.


Taking service-learning to the next level...COSA™

COSA – Community Organizing and Social Activism – is an academic program created and facilitated by IPSL, designed to give globally minded students a foundation in the history and key practices of community building and civic engagement worldwide, from domestic and international volunteerism, to community organizing, to grassroots social movements and activism. COSA evolved from "Institutions in Society," which was the Service-Learning reflections course taught at IPSL program locations around the world.  


Originally known as "The International Partnership for Service-Learning™ and Leadership" - IPSL, founded in 1982, is an educational organization serving students, colleges and universities, nonprofits and other service agencies, around the world, by fostering programs that link academic study with volunteer service. In keeping with our tradition as educational pioneers, IPSL launched Community Organizing and Social Activism or, simply, "COSA" in 2017.

IPSL works to make international engagement more ethical, accessible and sustainable, by facilitating relationships and learning between students and social change agents around the world. Unlike internships, IPSL does not 'place' students but, rather, offer opportunities for students to connect with our social change organizations (our Partners) in 12 countries. 


IPSL offers fully accredited graduate programs and credit bearing, 

undergraduate service-learning programs in nations across the globe—programs in which over 4,000 students from more than 400 universities or colleges have participated.  ​

IPSL is a Social Benefit Organization

IPSL measures our performance on several key metrics that are based on international standards. Unlike regular study abroad entities, IPSL’s metrics are based on annual results as measured on a triple bottom line; we measure and address our environmental impact, our overall social contribution, and our organization's financial health. IPSL follows seven guiding principles outlined:




Ethical behavior

Respect for stakeholder interests

Respect for the rule of law

Respect for international norms of behavior

Respect for human rights



Since 1981, IPSL has facilitated over 471,000 volunteer hours in our partner communities, supported the work of hundreds of nonprofits and NGOs around the world, vigorously (and unapologetically) promoted social-racial-economic justice through service-based programming, research and publishing, scholarships/funding, and on social media. Recently, our organization launched new initiatives that will sustain our service-based mission into the future.


At home, we maintain the same mindful practices by supporting local organizations that support the most vulnerable people. Large and small, every decision we make is about giving back and making our world a better and more just place. As an example, even our office coffee is roasted and sold by Central City Concern, a local nonprofit whose mission combats homelessness, addiction, supports mental health services and promotes self-reliance to people in the greater Portland area. Other organizations we support are the Oregon Food Bank and Meals on Wheels.



IPSL works to lessen its carbon footprint on our increasingly fragile planet. Since study abroad can only take place by boarding a plane, IPSL contributes to sustainable projects in several countries whose efforts help mitigate the harmful effects of pollution and waste that result from traveling. In one academic year, IPSL can contribute funding, to environmental organizations, to offset close to 600,000 air miles flown by our students, staff, and faculty. In concrete terms, we remit funds to help plant trees around the world; those trees then absorb some of the harmful effects that result from our decisions. 

In addition, we support renewable energy by opting into our local power company's Green Source program. Read more here: www.portlandgeneral.com/residential/power-choices/renewable-power/green-source



IPSL understands the financial commitments students make to be able to study and serve abroad. We take the trust they put in us very seriously. As such, our organization returns - on average - 83% of our annual revenues to our partner communities in the form of donations, faculty salaries, host family remunerations, payments to local groups that support our students in service and beyond, flight scholarships, and more. For thirty-six years, IPSL has been helping sustain communities abroad and in the U.S. through ethical service and scholarship, and we are proud of our history.