Ana Victoria Cruz posted an articlePriority funding is available for projects that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion see more
National Peace Corps Association seeks proposals from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former Peace Corps staff, and affiliate groups for small projects that contribute to amplifying the Peace Corps community's global social impact
As part of National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) mission to amplify the Peace Corps community’s global social impact, the NPCA Community Fund supports community-based projects that make global giving more efficient, transparent, and effective through small grants. The Community Fund supports projects both internationally and in the United States in a variety of sectors. Projects are funded primarily through crowdfunding, and may be eligible for supplemental funding from NPCA on a case-by-case basis. NPCA seeks proposals from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), former Peace Corps staff, and affiliate groups for small projects that contribute to amplifying the Peace Corps community’s global social impact. In our commitment to support communities of color, priority funding is available for projects that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, inclusive of minority-owned startup enterprises and initiatives that advance racial justice.
Small Grants Program: Approach and Methodology
As a first step, prospective applicants should complete an expression of interest form. Eligible applicants will be invited to submit a grant application to NPCA in accordance with the established policies and procedures for the Community Fund. Applications for grants of less than $3,000 will be evaluated by an internal ad hoc grants committee. Applications for grants of $3,000 or more will be evaluated by NPCA’s Community Fund Advisory Committee.
Successful applicants will be invited to enter into a partnered campaign agreement with NPCA. Through NPCA’s Community Fund, the applicant and NPCA will jointly promote the applicant’s project or initiative to our public audiences, endeavoring to meet the mutually agreed upon fundraising goals through a crowdfunding approach. As appropriate, NPCA may seed or contribute to the campaign from other sources in order to reach fundraising goals in a timely manner.
Upon completion of the partnered campaign, NPCA will disburse the grant to recipient by installments in accordance with an agreed-upon schedule of disbursements.
Eligible Applicants | Eligible applicants must meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- Social enterprises founded by individual RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff in the process of incorporation (fiscal sponsorship required)
- Social enterprises founded by RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff and incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations
- Groups of RPCVs and former Peace Corps that are formally affiliated with, or in the process of affiliation with, NPCA
- Community-based organizations or enterprises incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations and with substantial RPCV or former Peace Corps staff involvement (volunteers, staff, or board of directors)
- Private enterprises established as limited liability companies (LLC) by RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff and in early startup
Ineligible Applicants | If one or more of the criteria below is true, applicant is not eligible:
- Proposals for enterprises that have annual operating revenues of $500,000 or more
- Proposals presented or directed by government entities
- Proposals from groups that do not contribute financial or in-kind resources to the proposed activities
- Proposals associated with political parties or partisan movements
- Purely religious or sectarian activities
- Proposals solely for construction and/or equipment
- Requests for grants more than $50,000 total
- Social enterprises that are not incorporated or in the process of being incorporated
- Social enterprises that are not established by RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff, or do not have substantial involvement from RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff
NPCA looks for the following criteria in a project it funds:
- Innovative solutions to community problems
- Creative use of the community’s resources
- Evidence of commitment to social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
- Diverse, equitable, and transparent array of community voices in project development and execution
- Substantial stakeholder engagement in:
- the identification of the problem addressed
- the identification of intended beneficiaries
- the approach chosen to solve it
- the design of the project
- management and evaluation of activities
- Partnerships with local government, the business community and other civil society organizations
- Potential for strengthening all participating organizations and their partnerships
- Financial and technical feasibility, including detailed budget and capacity and history of managing grants
- Evidence of eventual sustainability
- Counterpart contributions from the proponent, the beneficiaries and other sources
- The potential to generate learning
- Measurable results (short- and long-term)
Application will be evaluated on the above criteria using a grant application scoring rubric that reviews and weighs grant proposal components, using a 50-point scale. All applications receiving 35+ points will be considered for funding support. Applications receiving 34 points and below will either be informed that they are not being selected for funding or will be asked to strengthen their application to meet specific criteria.
Up to $50,000 per recipient, of which a maximum of $10,000 will be awarded from NPCA resources, with the remainder from crowdfunded or jointly identified funding sources.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 2021.
NPCA will utilize donor advised funds donated to NPCA for use in advancing the mission and reach of the Community Fund. NPCA will also capitalize on grant opportunities that emerge and which align with the mission and scope of the Community Fund’s Small Grants Program.
NPCA’s Community Fund Small Grants Program is overseen by NPCA’s President and CEO. NPCA’s Community Fund Advisory Committee, made up of appointed Board Members and volunteer NPCA members, will advise on procedures and policies for the initiatives of the Community Fund, as well as, approve grant applications requesting grants $3,000 and larger.
The daily management of applications, communications with stakeholders, crowdfunding process, grant payout, and grant reporting will be managed by NPCA's International Programs Coordinator.
The seeking out of supplemental funding opportunities, such as the submission of foundation grant proposals, will be led and managed by NPCA’s development team.
RPCV Camillia Freeland-Taylor helps community build school in Southern province of Zambia. see more
The Community Fund: Perpetuating a Lifelong Commitment to Peace Corps Ideals
At National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), we understand the impact Volunteers make in host communities, as well as those host communities make upon Volunteers. Both resonate for decades. The Community Fund thrives on sustaining that relationship and impact.
An example are Camillia Freeland-Taylor’s (Zambia 2013-15) efforts to support the children of her village, Magalela, who must walk nine miles and cross two rivers to attend school. Many families do not allow their girls to attend because of the two-hour walk. During Camillia’s service, a first grade boy drowned on the journey.
The village children need a local primary school to ensure their basic human right to education. Camillia worked both during and after service to meet this need.
The grant she originally received as a PCV provided the amount necessary to lay the foundation of the school. As an RPCV, Camillia sought out NPCA to purchase cement and other building materials to complete the project by plastering the school's walls, finishing the floors, building latrines, and fitting windows with glass. The Zambian government will then provide teachers.
“It’s good to have a school because our children won’t have to walk so far (usually six-eight kilometers one way), and they don’t have to worry about crossing the river during the rainy season, which is extremely dangerous. Right now we have no choice, but we are trying to change that through the new school” says Jethrow Siatubi, Magalela Village Head.
Education has a compounding effect, and the result of allowing an entire community of children access to a primary education is profound. Studies show that with each additional year of education, an individual will earn more as an adult and prevent extreme poverty. Moreover, women who receive a primary school education are less likely to lose children in the first five years of the child’s life.
“I remember one time I went to the hospital and they gave me the wrong medicine. If I wasn’t educated I wouldn’t have been able to tell the medicine was meant for someone else and for a different problem. I was able to do so because of education. I want my children to have a better education and a chance at a brighter future” remarked Julius Simombeh, a school committee member.
NPCA supports community-driven projects of impact through the Community Fund see more
National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is proud to support community-driven projects of impact through the Community Fund. NPCA supports grassroots initiatives led by members of the Peace Corps community that have a lasting and sustainable impact. One of our newest initiatives is supporting the continuation of the micro-loan programs facilitated by The Colombia Project Global (TCP Global).
Where it all began
In 2000, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida (RPCVSF) established The Colombia Project (TCP), a committee that was created in response to the drastic internal displacement rates in Colombia. Social workers, attorneys, leaders of the displaced community and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) gathered at a meeting in Bogota, Colombia and decided the most effective solution was to provide resources to people ready to rebuild their lives through a sustainable micro-loan program.
The mission of TCP is two-fold: assist marginalized entrepreneurs with micro-loans and strengthen the grassroots organizations that effectively serve marginalized communities.
In Colombia, as in much of the developing world, affordable loans for marginalized entrepreneurs are available only from the daily lenders who charged up to 10% per day and often used harsh collection measures. The larger micro-finance institutions tended to focus on population centers where it is easier to scale their operations. The TCP model, however, is created for small and remote communities where the lending gap is greatest.
For TCP loan recipients, a marginal increase in family income means the difference between young adults continuing their studies and dropping out to help feed the family. Those who successfully repay several TCP loans often qualify for bank loans for their business or for constructing their own homes. In addition to loan recipients, TCP partners used earnings to benefit the communities where they work. Projects included the first latrine for the handicapped in Aguadas, a facility for the handicapped in Cartago, repairing homes for the poorest residents of Puerto Tejada, establishing a sewing cooperative and completing a community center in La Victoria.
"I no longer look at myself as a displaced person but as an entrepreneur"
- Gloria Beatriz Barliza Epiayu, Woman Entrepreneur of the year for the Guajira Region of Colombia 2011
Moving onto the next phase
In 2014, The Colombia Project became independent of RPCVSF, and evolved in to TCP Global. In 2015, TCP Global opened new programs in Niger, Guatemala and Peru with one hundred percent loan repayment in the first 16 months. In this next phase, TCP Global has seeded $10,000 from the U.S. and supported $21,000 in loans to 100 recipients and earned its current partners $5,000 to date.
TCP Global partners have found that increasing the income of their clients provides each a hand up to reach a better standard of living. These loans help keep children in school, provide healthier diets, access to clean drinking water and protection of the environment. Women entrepreneurs are often empowered by their success and progress to become community leaders.
TCP is a results-oriented model that keeps the focus on the loan recipient. If they do well, the organizations that administer the loans are compensated for their good results. The first allocation is typically $1500. Once that has been invested twice with at least a 95% repayment rate, additional allocations are sent until the permanent loan pool is sufficient to meet the needs of the community.
NPCA's Community Fund is currently supporting a new program that will open in the Philippines and in a Colombian community where there is a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. These programs are projected to need up to $12,000 each over the next 4 years.
Since funds are released in $1500 increments or less, with a promise to send more if those funds are invested successfully, the risk is small. The repayment rate for loans given since 2007 exceeds 95%. TCP’s oldest site, in Genova has invested each donated dollar eight times in nine years. That is the level of success NPCA and TCP Global hope to continue globally as this program expands with the help of the Community Fund.
PCV Togo shares his touching story of bringing clean water to his community. see more
Peace Corps Volunteer Mokube Ewane serves in Kante in the Kara Region of Togo. The project was originally designed to dig eight public wells, install two hand washing stations in public schools, and repair/rehabilitate three community water pumps. At the conclusion the community had built 12 wells, rehabilitated two wells, and repaired four hand pumps. The handwashing stations were deferred. The work was done in 17 communities, bringing water to 5,300 people.
Here is an excerpt from Mokube's final project report:
The farther north you go in Togo, the more scarce water becomes. This is particularly true in northern villages that are farther away from the national road. Each time I go to visit AIDS patients in remote villages and have the time to chat with community members, all they could talk about is how scarce water is, and how they have to travel long distances to fetch it. Sometimes, the water they fetch may not be ideal for human consumption. However, that is all they have.
I have seen villagers, especially girls, fetch water in the same pond that animals such as goat, and cows drink from. Often, the water contained in these shallow ponds is greenish, or yellowish in color. I was riding my bike from Kante (my post) to a nearby village, just to see and experience how life is over there. I came across a couple of children about 13 and 15 years old. They were standing next to a shallow pond of yellowish standing water. I asked what they were doing and they told me they were fetching drinking water. Just to be sure, I asked if that’s where they get their drinking water and their response was affirmative.
This situation is not unique to this village. Even in villages with access to a hand pump, when broken, it can take sometimes four years or more to get it repaired. I was a witness to three such villages with broken hand pumps since 2012. These pumps just got repaired in April 2016, thanks to our water project. People desperately wanted to get a reliable, potable and clean source of drinking water. Hence, my community and I had no choice but to undertake this water project. To correct myself, we had a choice: do nothing and let people continue to suffer or try to undertake a difficult and ambitious water project that will improve the living condition of thousands of people and save tens if not hundreds of lives each year. We chose the latter. At the end of the project, we were able to provide access to potable water to 17 communities (~5300 direct beneficiaries), thanks to Water Charity and National Peace Corps Association.
At first, people were a little skeptical about the notion of a potable water source next to them. However, when they realized that was a reality, their enthusiasm and excitement for the project couldn’t be exaggerated. After much planning and sensitization, the water project was officially launched in March 2016. With inputs from the mayor’s office, local chiefs, quarter heads, community members and presidents of the various development committees, consensus was made to build or rehabilitate water wells and repair hand pumps in 17 communities (five villages and 12 neighborhoods). At the end of the project, 12 brand new wells were built, two wells rehabilitated, three hand pumps repaired, and one hand pump repaired and rehabilitated (Totaling 14 wells and four hand pumps). These communities were chosen based on two main criteria: number of people in village (village population density), and degree of difficulty they face fetching water.
When the project began in the various sites, people couldn’t disguise their joy and happiness. They were very motivated to be part of this project. Some people came up to me and say “nous ne savons pas comment te remercier” (roughly translated to “we don’t know how to thank you”). Others will say “tu as sauvé nos vies (roughly translated to “you have saved our lives”). Apart from sand and gravel (community contribution), a lot of people were bringing food and local drinks for the workers working in the various sites. A lot of young people were also helping during the digging process. Without community members’ willingness to participate, this project couldn’t have been successful.
Our water project took approximately three months to complete (March 2016 to mid-June 2016). I’m proud to say that, despite the many challenges we faced, such as transporting cement to remote locations, or organizing community members, this project was a success. Now, more than 5,300 people in 17 different communities have access to clean and potable water, and girls can now dedicate more time studying instead of traveling long distances to fetch water for their families. Many people, especially young children, don’t have to get sick because of the scarcity of obtaining clean water. Some women can now engage in income-generating activity because of a reliable water source. All these are made possible because of the generous financial support made by Water Charity and National Peace Corps Association.
To date National Peace Corps Association and Water Charity partnership continue to be a leading source of funding for PCV and RPCV projects both in water and sanitation as well as Let Girls Learn grants. Our role to the Peace Corps community is to help PCVs and RPCVs like Mokube better serve their communities and provide the expertise, guidance and training needed to complete these projects. Thank you Mokube for sharing your story!