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Community Development Volunteer Project in Puerto Rico - San Juan

Community Development Volunteer Project in Puerto Rico - San Juan

Support marginalized & low-income communities
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 1-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Dormitory-style hostel
Program fees
From AU$988 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who like working with others and are interested in helping the local community achieve its own development and improvement goals. This is an open project that can also take your skills and interests into account. If you have relevant experience, be sure to mention that on your application so we can ensure your skills are being used to make the biggest difference possible.

Project details

Inspired to volunteer in Puerto Rico? International Volunteer HQ’s Community Development project is a fantastic way to have a positive impact on low-income neighborhoods in San Juan. Volunteers will work at a grass-roots level to give the community support and where the skills, experience and knowledge of volunteers can be put to best use helping to foster positive development and prioritizing the needs, voice and choice of the local community.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Puerto Rico is an island of tight-knit neighborhoods, each unique and vibrant in its own way. Each neighborhood also faces unique issues and challenges. One of the best ways to support the communities on the island is from the ground up; by working in an individual neighborhood on its own development efforts and addressing the specific issues it has.

As a Community Development volunteer your duties will be fluid, and will depend on the local needs and priorities when you visit. This type of volunteer work is often varied and changeable, requiring plenty of initiative and interaction with different stakeholders. Duties could involve:

  • Renovations
  • Gardening
  • Painting
  • Clean ups
  • Food distribution
  • Administration support such as fundraising, clothing donation collection

You can work in local neighborhood organisations, community centres, parks, urban gardens, shelters and schools, helping each to improve their local communities.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Covid-19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting disadvantaged and minority communities the hardest. To reduce inequalities, we must provide better services and support to refugees, migrants, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

Why do Community Development volunteering in San Juan with IVHQ?

Why do Community Development in Puerto Rico with IVHQ? When you volunteer in communities Puerto Rico you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Supporting low-income communities with local initiatives
  • Using your existing skills and experience to make a difference
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining community development experience
  • Immersing yourself in Puerto Rican culture
  • Exploring Puerto Rico’s interesting history

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • This program requires all volunteers to be over the age of 14, even when accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • All volunteers aged 14+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 14-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

Not sure which program to join?

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Kameshia Mays
29 May 2024

I feel as if I gained more insight about the country I was volunteering in. The more you know about a country and its citizens the more respect and appreciation you tend to gain. My advice would be to always come opened minded and make the best of your experience.

Linda Hochstetler
11 Apr 2024

My primary goal for volunteering abroad was to introduce my daughter to other cultures and the joys of giving back by volunteering. I've always wanted to go to Puerto Rico and personally know people from there originally. The ability to "live like a local" was an amazing experience and I never want to travel any other way again. My advice to anyone thinking of joining the Puerto Rico Youth Support program is that they should not let any fears hold them back. Puerto Rico is super safe and the children at the program will make everything worth your time and effort.

Johnnie Hammelman
07 Sep 2023

In both projects, I worked with local people. They shared their culture, their country highlights and problems. It was a good feeling to work with local people so closely. For anyone considering this program, like the saying, just do it! IVHQ will support you and be there if needed.

Fatmah Almoumen
23 Aug 2023

Once in a lifetime experience to get to know the culture, country, and community! You will never regret not participating (if anything, I regret not staying longer).

Nastassia Juarez
20 Jun 2023

I loved meeting new people and getting close to them. Being able to help the local community was very fulfilling and felt great to be part of the change.

Jarmo Wilkens
22 Jul 2022

Do it, it's a great lifetime experience that will allow you to collaborate with and get to know people from different cultures. It will also give you a new set of skills that may become useful later in life.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Puerto Rico with IVHQ


The IVHQ Puerto Rico volunteer program is based in and around the region of the island’s coastal capital of San Juan, renowned for its beautiful beaches and vivid history. ​Set on the outer edge of the Caribbean, San Juan has long been an important international port and remains so to this day. As a result it is also a hub for industry, finance, culture and tourism.

The city is also home to around 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s population, and took a serious hit when Hurricane Maria ripped through the region in 2017.

While huge recovery efforts have returned much of the city to a habitable state, there are still many people and parts of the region feeling the longer-term effects of the crisis. Volunteers can have a meaningful impact on these communities by choosing to give their time and energy to projects which aim to give people a hand up in the ways they most need it.

Arrival and orientation

The Puerto Rico volunteer program begins every Monday. You need to arrive in San Juan for pickup on the Sunday before your chosen start date.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee if you arrive on the Sunday before your program starts. The pick-up window is from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM so please ensure to arrive during this period.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation, which is a 20-minute drive away. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Sunday night prior to your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Puerto Rico prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a meeting point in San Juan on the Sunday before your program start date. Alternatively, you can choose to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

On the first Monday of your program, orientation is hosted by our local team in San Juan and runs for a half day. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Puerto Rico – introduction to Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Puerto Rico, introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example


A volunteer day is subject to change depending on your specific project and your placement. ​A typical daily schedule​ might be as follows:

9:00 AM Volunteer work begins
12:00 PM Lunch breaks can vary depending on the working schedule, but all volunteers get time to have their own lunch and relax. After lunch you will have free time to explore the area, do some shopping or plan for your next day’s work. If your project calls for it, you may be involved in more afternoon volunteer activities.
Evening: Volunteers have free time to spend as they wish. You’ll definitely want to head out to local restaurants for dinner, though volunteers who prefer to cook for themselves do have access to the hostel kitchen.


During the weekends, volunteers have spare time to relax or ​explore San Juan and other parts of Puerto Rico.

We recommend taking a walking tour of Old San Juan to absorb its vibrancy and colonial history, taking a trip to the tropical rainforest for hiking and waterfalls or enjoying the white sand beaches and soaking in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

It’s a great idea to do your own research before you go to get an idea of what you may want to see and do once you are in Puerto Rico. Volunteers often get together once they’re in the country and organising travel and tours together.

Accommodation and WiFi

You will be accommodated with other volunteers in one of two public hostels in San Juan. The hostels also cater for independent travellers who book rooms from time to time. The hostels are centrally located in San Juan, close to beaches, shops, restaurants and amenities.

You should expect basic dormitory style accommodation. Rooms are mixed gender and you could share a room with up to 16 other volunteers. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds with bedding provided but you will need to bring your own towel.

You can also expect to share a communal bathroom with toilets and showers. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure their room and shared bathroom is kept tidy, although there are staff who clean the accommodation throughout the week.

Free WiFi is available at the volunteer accommodation, as well as at many cafes and restaurants in the area. A local SIM card with data can also be used in unlocked phones.

Private room upgrades are also possible for an additional cost, subject to availability. The cost varies according to the season and the upgrade and can be arranged with the local team directly, once you are registered.


Meals are not included in this program, so you will need to arrange your own breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hostel has cooking facilities to prepare meals and there are nearby shops and restaurants to purchase food from.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$520) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $625 Equivalent to $89/day
2 weeks $950 Equivalent to $68/day
3 weeks $1,245 Equivalent to $59/day
4 weeks $1,570 Equivalent to $56/day
5 weeks $1,893 Equivalent to $54/day
6 weeks $2,215 Equivalent to $53/day
8 weeks $2,813 Equivalent to $50/day
10 weeks $3,360 Equivalent to $48/day
12 weeks $3,955 Equivalent to $47/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$520) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Puerto Rico generally find US$300 - US$400 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as meals, and in-country tours.
  • Any cancellations or changes within 14 days of a volunteers start date is subject to a minimum 25% late change/cancellation fee
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Meals
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit Puerto Rico

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital San Juan
Population 3.68 Million
Languages Spanish, English
Currency US Dollar (USD)
Time zone UTC-04:00

Weather and climate

Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with warm to hot temperatures throughout the year. The average top temperature each day is around 85°F (29°C). Easterly trade winds can cross the island year round. Puerto Rico’s rainy season is from April to November, and the dry season is from December to March. The temperature in San Juan, where our program is based, varies very little throughout the year and can be very humid.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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How to get started

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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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