In 2013 our organization took a significant leap forward. We funded new programs in Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Senegal and Tanzania. We are now managing programs in 20 villages around the world. For the year, we increased our program expenditures by 37% to $2.1 million. This growth is continuing in 2014, with four new programs already added. Our programs and funding are impacting tens of thousands of families and have helped create local jobs, both short- and long-term.
Our recent growth is directly the result of our intensive effort to find and evaluate prospective projects in communities that can benefit from our assistance. We conducted an open call for proposals and were honored with an overwhelmingly positive response: In less than six months we received and carefully reviewed over 300 proposals from around the world – the majority from community-based organizations that have traditionally had limited access to international donor funds.
In Malawi, for example, we are funding a proposal from two young men who founded Global Hope Mobilization, a youth-led organization dedicated to working on the Millennium Developmental Goals and the Malawi Growth Development Strategies. Their project will work alongside the local village council to assist with the construction of a well and latrines for a village school. We see strength in partnerships with similar community-based organizations that have a deep understanding of their communities and a personal commitment to improving the circumstances for their neighbors.
Our business model is to learn and leverage these initial projects so we can be an active investor and participant in the growing vibrancy in these communities for many years to come. For each of these projects to succeed, two of the important elements we look for are: 1) hands-on, visionary leadership and 2) community support. Our core areas of focus in these communities are water quality, education, agricultural improvements, food security and health and well-being.
2013 has also been an expansion year in our Portland, Oregon, headquarters. We are happy to welcome to our team Georgina Bukenya Fields, our Director of International Programs who is responsible for overseeing our programs primarily in Africa; and Shelby Ness, our Administrative Manager. In 2013, our offices have also been home to the staff of The Shadow Project, an up-and-coming organization in Portland working with special education teachers to revolutionize the way they motivate and empower their students. I invite you to read more about The Shadow Project featured on page 5.
We are now in Vibrant Village’s 5th year, and there is some evidence that we are starting to actually get good at this! It’s realistic to expect that we can start to leverage not just our financial resources, but also our expertise and deeper understanding of working in local communities around the world. We seek to continually improve our programs and streamline our investments so we can help families and young people to build a better life – with cleaner water, better food, more quality education and greater opportunities.
As always, we deeply appreciate your continuing interest in the Vibrant Village Foundation and the work we are doing. Look for more stories on our website and Facebook page as we introduce you to our work and the communities we support.
Founder and President