Release date: 1/22/2019
New network will strengthen Puerto Rico nonprofits to accelerate hurricane recovery and address community needs more effectively
Enterprise Community Partners, NeighborWorks America and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation launch the Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity Building Network to strengthen community-based organizations
San Juan, Puerto Rico — A new network introduced today will provide training, networking opportunities and funding for nonprofit organizations across Puerto Rico to increase their capacity to meet crucial community needs in areas such as housing, climate resilience, education and health, especially as the island recovers from Hurricanes Irma and María.
Led by Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), NeighborWorks America (NeighborWorks) and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation (Community Foundation), the Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity Building Network will strengthen local nonprofits, which for decades have done remarkable work despite challenges that include limited operating funds, small staffs and sporadic training opportunities. The network will develop an infrastructure to address obstacles by improving coordination among nonprofits, government and business and by equipping organizations with additional knowledge in areas such as advocacy, collaboration, financial planning and leadership.
"Enterprise recognizes the immense dedication of Puerto Rico's nonprofits — and the challenges they must regularly overcome — based on our collaboration with them and with business and government on the island over the past two decades," said Laurel Blatchford, president, Enterprise Community Partners. "I'm proud that the Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity Building Network will provide training and expertise that can significantly increase nonprofits' ability to advance affordable housing and other avenues to opportunity for Puerto Ricans."
The network kicked off today at a full-day event in San Juan, "Together, We're Better: How Nonprofits are Helping Rebuild from Hurricanes Irma and María." Leaders from Enterprise, NeighborWorks and the Community Foundation explained that it will focus on three areas:
- Identifying local needs, to address both what services — in areas such as housing, health care and resilience — will help Puerto Rico's communities thrive and what training and resources will make local nonprofits more effective in delivering those services.
- Improving coordination among local stakeholders, so that nonprofits, government at all levels and businesses better understand other groups' capabilities, which will encourage partnerships between and within sectors and improve services.
- Developing and implementing a detailed action plan, particularly in collaboration with nonprofits throughout Puerto Rico, since capturing their insights and experience will concentrate the network's efforts on topics that will bring the greatest benefits to island residents.
One of the network's first initiatives will provide nonprofits training on using federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to support recovery and rebuilding. This session will explain CDBG-DR and create connections between organizations so they can learn from each other, develop collaborations and prepare for future needs.
"NeighborWorks America looks forward to partnering with Enterprise Community Partners and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation to pave the way for increased collaboration that results in greater impact and resources. We remain committed to supporting local nonprofits, which have a deeper understanding of the needs of residents, to build their capacity and support each other in ongoing recovery efforts," said Marietta Rodriguez, president and CEO of NeighborWorks America. "NeighborWorks is honored to be part of this important work that leverages our 30 years of community development investment in Puerto Rico and supports the tireless efforts of nonprofits on the island that continue to help rebuild infrastructure, homes, businesses and lives after the devastating hurricanes of 2017."
Nonprofits were a central part of the response to the emergencies created by Irma and María, even though they had to battle obstacles such as limited or nonexistent electricity, water and communications, and their staff members had their own losses and needs. María alone destroyed close to 70,000 homes in Puerto Rico, and thousands of people have emigrated from the island after the storm.
Seniors, families and low-income households, who have less access to resources to help them recover, have especially needed the support of local nonprofits. Hurricane damage came on top of decades of economic difficulties that limited the development of many key Puerto Rican institutions, including nonprofits.
"Our communities had the support of nonprofit organizations that provided help and resources to achieve immediate recovery. We know that much of the sustainable renewal will come from these community-based organizations. That is why we want to guide them and help them to access the funds coming from the CDBG-DR and act in an agile and efficient manner," said Dr. Nelson I. Colón Tarrats, president of the Puerto Rico Community Foundation.
For more information on the Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity Building Network, contact Erika Ruiz, director at Enterprise, at email@example.com.
Enterprise is a proven and powerful nonprofit that improves communities and people's lives by making well-designed homes affordable. We bring together the nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investments to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development. Over 35 years, Enterprise has created nearly 529,000 homes, invested $36 billion and touched millions of lives and touched millions of lives. Join us at www.EnterpriseCommunity.org.
About NeighborWorks America
For 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes more than 240 members in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer-exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools and access to training, as the nation's leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment and education. In the last five years, our organizations have generated more than $34 billion in investment across the country. Learn more at www.nw.org.
About Puerto Rico Community Foundation
Puerto Rico Community Foundation (PRCF) is a non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) with over 32 years of experience that has provided consulting services to individuals, families, corporations and foundations, both in Puerto Rico and abroad, regarding the best way to channel their philanthropic concerns. They want donors' contributions to have an impact in the self-development of Puerto Ricans. In addition, PRCF has a programmatic area for annual projects that address the current needs of our communities. It is the first foundation of this nature in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and, as of today, the only one in Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.fcpr.org.