Raleigh International, sometimes called by its earlier name of Operation Raleigh, is a UK-originated youth and sustainable development not-for-profit organisation whose declared aim is to develop young people who understand sustainable development and have the skills, knowledge and passion to make change happen.
Raleigh's programmes have included expeditions to Malaysian Borneo, Costa Rica & Nicaragua and India. UK Government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programmes to Tanzania, India and Nicaragua. Past countries have included Chile, Ghana, Namibia, Malaysia, Mongolia and Fiji. The expeditions comprise three parts (Adventure, Environment and Community), each lasting about three weeks. The ICS programme is ten weeks of community service with a team of half UK and half national volunteers.
Projects are planned with local partners allowing participants to work alongside local people in rural communities and habitats to improve the local living conditions and reduce the impact of poverty. Most work involves using low cost sustainable technologies such as biogas ovens, rain water harvesting, gravity feed water systems as well as building schools and community centres which the community needs.
People can apply for expeditions from around the world either as venturers (17-24 year olds) or as volunteer managers (25–75 years) who undertake a variety of roles including project manager, expedition photographer, medic, communication officer and logistics manager. Raleigh is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), Bond (for international development) and Civicus.
Raleigh also works with companies such as Green & Black's, supporting their efforts to develop sustainable Fairtrade cocoa communities, and the Airbus Corporate Foundation, taking their staff into India to build biogas plants for tribal families in order to reduce their need to take wood from the forests for cooking fuel.
Based on Operation Drake, Operation Raleigh (1984-1991) included volunteers and staff from around the world on community, environmental and adventure based expeditions in Africa, the Americas and the Far East.
In 1992, following the increased number of international volunteers, it became "Raleigh International" with a continued organizational focus on youth & sustainable development.
Notable celebrities that have been on Raleigh expeditions include Prince William who spent 10 weeks in Chile in 2000, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Marina Ogilvy, daughter of Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, BBC journalist Kate Silverton, Ray Mears and Mark O'Shea who participated in three Raleigh expeditions from 1985-1989.