Our Story

We believe in building a more relevant, collaborative, and responsible classroom.

Amizade is the product of hundreds of service-learning pioneers who have engaged in over two decades of programmatic and academic development; it is the result of never-ending efforts by communities around the world to welcome others; and it is an ongoing global movement by over 27,000 alums, and hundreds of thousands of others, to create a more joyful and just world.


Amizade inspires empathy, catalyzes social action, and links diverse communities through Fair Trade Learning.


To create a world where diverse communities connect freely, forge lasting relationships, and build a more just planet together.


Tens of thousands of individuals have helped make Amizade what it is today – an organization dedicated to mutual empowerment through service and learning. Our operations consist of three core activities:

1. Amizade collaborates with universities, high schools, community groups, and companies to design and manage safe and empowering global service-learning and volunteer programs.

2. Amizade works closely with communities all over the world to develop and manage sustainable and empowering initiatives. In the process, we create strong cross-cultural bonds and new global citizens.

3. Amizade acts as a catalyst for improvement in international education, developing innovative curriculum and sector changing ideals like Fair Trade Learning, and sharing best practices with others through consulting.


Our history starts in 1962, kind of. How’s a history “kind of start?” In 2019, Amizade assumed the operations of the study abroad pioneering organization, BCA Study Abroad, which was founded by a consortium of seven colleges of the Brethren tradition. As John Glenn was orbiting the Earth, Jamaica was gaining independence, and Brazil was winning the World Cup, BCA started to lead the brand new field of international education, focusing on semester programming for language acquisition, social justice, and peace. Today, that tradition continues, but under the mission, movement, and direction of Amizade. 

Our history also starts in 1994. As Forest Gump took over the movie screens, cease fires started in Northern Ireland, and Brazil again won the world cup, Daniel Weiss – a young doctoral student from Chicago – was setting up a small volunteer organization in the Brazilian Amazon. 

Amizade, the Portuguese word for friendship, was created as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism, providing community service, encouraging collaboration, and improving cultural awareness in locations throughout the world. At the time, Weiss noted that many people want to help around the world, but do not know where to start, while many human service and environmental groups need volunteers but did not have the time or resources to develop projects which fully utilize the talents, skills, and desires of the volunteers. The result is that organizations and volunteers both become disappointed and disenfranchised with the process.  Amizade was created to provide opportunities for individuals and groups to be able to take part in educational, environmental, health, welfare, and other service projects around the world. Volunteers do not need to have any special skills, only a willingness to help. Amizade was designed to collaborate with existing community-based organizations to develop projects which are both beneficial to the community and enjoyable to the volunteers.

Amizade, the Portuguese word for friendship, was created as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism, providing community service, encouraging collaboration, and improving cultural awareness in locations throughout the world.

In the late 1990s, Amizade exploded. After a series of very successful university partnerships, it became clear that Amizade’s expertise was not limited to volunteer vacations; rather the programs that were perhaps most transformational were with young people. From experiential learning projects in Montana to renovate a historic ranch and build an environmental research station to working with the Korrawinga Aboriginal Community in Australia, by 2004 Amizade had worked with over 20 communities in 13 countries. By 2014, Amizade was engaging over 1,000 young people a year, blurring the lines between who benefits from travel experiences, and revolutionizing ethics in international volunteering and exploration. 

Since its inception, over 27,000 participants from all over the world have participated on Amizade and BCA programs. The results have been nothing short of incredible. Everyday Amizade empowers a new global citizen; everyday Amizade helps a community see local improvement; and everyday Amizade helps to create a leader for tomorrow. These benchmarks don’t begin to consider the long-lasting impacts of new global friendships that have been forged through Amizade partnerships.

For more details about our history, please see the timeline presented below.


Where will your Amizade program take you? There are so many locations and experiences to consider!