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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

CARMEN PAMPA FUND

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, Education, International, International Economic Development, Microfinance, Religion, Roman Catholic

Mission: The mission of Carmen Pampa Fund is to generate resources to assist the growth and development of the Unidad Academica Campesina - Carmen Pampa (UAC-CP), a college serving the impoverished rural families of Bolivia through education, research, production, and community service projects.

Results: As of January 2019, 802 men and women have graduated from the College. Notable data captured from the 2012 UAC-CP alumni survey include: • 95% of UAC-CP graduates were employed. • 91% work in jobs that support Bolivia's rural area. • 89% are employed in the same field of their area of study. • 72% found jobs they wanted after graduation. • 48% of UAC-CP graduates are women. • 42% of alumni have advanced degrees. • 300% increase in income reported between UAC-CP graduates and their parents' generation. In January 2017, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, the College launched a new initiative focused on entrepreneurship, which includes the development of a Business Institute on campus and a plan to rejuvenate the College's on campus micro-businesses. The goal of the project is to promote small business development through academic and practical, hands-on experiences. During the 2018 academic year, the College introduced two new master's level programs: Climate Change and Coffee & Cacao. The College also offers an additional 11 advanced-degree certificate programs.

Target demographics: youth

Direct beneficiaries per year: 727 Bolivian women and men who received academic and job skills training.

Geographic areas served: Bolivia

Programs: The UAC-CP was founded in 1993 as a response to the need for affordable opportunities for higher education for rural indigenous populations. Located in the rugged Cordillera Real Mountain Range northwest of Bolivia's capital city, the Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa (UAC-CP or the College) addresses the need of providing young Bolivian men and women of impoverished and marginalized populations with equal access to higher education, technical skill training, and job preparedness. The founding mission and vision of the College, combined with an understanding and respect for local indigenous culture, is what makes the UAC-CP's approach unique in its ability to address the social and economic challenges by transferring knowledge and skills to the young people who come from that area and are dedicated to continue living in the rural area. In 2003, a special panel working with the United Nations named the UAC-CP as one of the world's top initiatives for the eradication of poverty. After examining programs from around the world, the Sub-Committee for the Eradication of Poverty named the the UAC in Carmen Pampa as one of the top seven "best of the best." The panel wanted to honor programs that are innovative, sustainable, and effective. The UAC-CP has also been recognized by the Bolivian Ministry of Education and the United States Agency for International Development.

Community Stories

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a life long supporter of the nonprofit Carmen Pampa Fund. The education funded helps to transform the lives of the people in rural Bolivia. I am particularly amazed at how the Carmen Pampa Fund has empowered women to take control of their lives and to help their communities. The college is an example of how we can invest in a future with less poverty through the support of higher education. The personal stories and information that I read about in the newsletter are inspiring. It has been a great priviledge to be able to support the Carnmen Pamp Fund.

Susan Miller C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A truly community-based development organization with an excellent, proven track record of improving lives.

E Molly Leahy H.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a donor to the Carmen Pampa Fund since its inception. The goal of the CPF's founders was to bring higher education to rural Bolivians who otherwise would not be able to access to such resources. The hope was that those who got an education would then bring their new found knowledge back to their own communities. The Fund, through the hard work of its founders and those who have taken over the efforts, provides valuable, and much needed resources, to the Unidad Academecia Campesina in Bolivia in order to achieve those goals. The efforts of the CPF and the UAC are to be commended as the founders dreams have and continue to be fulfilled. A new generation of rural Bolivians have received or will soon receive an education that they otherwise would not have gotten. In addition, those students who have graduated are making a difference in their local communities as a result. I am proud to be long time supporter of this amazing effort.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Carmen Pampa Fund is a force for good in the world. It truly represents the transformative power of higher education in action. My volunteer experience at the UAC-CP was very impactful and shaped my career trajectory.

Joshua Q.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with the UAC in 2014, mainly working with students and volunteers doing physical labor around the campus. What amazed me the most and showed me how incredible UAC is, was the consistent dedication the students had to their studies, their school, and their greater community. Not only did they want an education to reach great levels of success for themselves, but also help their community share in that fruitfulness by taking the time to make it a cleaner and safer place. The UAC not only builds up the individual, but also the community, and that is why it is so special.

Donor

Rating: 5

Borne of an idea, to serve individuals in a remote part of Bolivia, came an institution which has grown, flourished, and changed the lives of many. Carmen Pampa, founded by Sister Damon Nolan, has provided an education for hundreds of students, enabling them to learn the trades and skills required in order to give back to their communities. As a result of recognizing this basic human need to educate, and forming this school, these fortunate recipients have used this opportunity to learn and persue their dreams. In turn it has afforded them the invaluable gift of helping sustain their culture, and protect their environment. Without support and people who care, this special place could not thrive. It is an honor and a privilege to be a small part of this great and important charity.
Teresa Catherine Fuhr

Tanya Kerssen

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have a long relationship with the UAC-Carmen Pampa and supporting the Carmen Pampa Fund. Over the years I have written grants, volunteered, done research, collaborated with students and faculty, shared meals, and been personally transformed—like so many others—by my connections with this amazing institution and its people. The Carmen Pampa Fund is much more than a "great nonprofit" (which it is), it is a multicultural, cross-border community of people devoted to the transformative power of education. Its quantifiable reach—in terms of number of graduates and people served by farming, tourism, and healthcare projects—has undoubtedly been great. But the unquantifiable ripple effect in terms of promoting physical and spiritual wellness, intellectual curiosity, social justice, and human achievement is what makes the UAC, and the Fund, so deeply special and worthy of support.

1 boliviahugh

Board Member

Rating: 5

Carmen Pampa Fund supports the Unidad Academica Campesina in Bolivia, a UN-recognized college providing a subsidized college education to young, mostly rural, Bolivians. The graduates work in all sectors of Bolivian society, including local and national government, their own small businesses, rural hospitals, non-profits, and rural schools. It is one of the best poverty-reducing efforts I have ever seen.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been affiliated with Carmen Pampa Fund, a community of a dedicated people focused on improving the lives of Bolivians through the power of higher education, since 1995. Serving the marginalized poor of rural Bolivia, Carmen Pampa Fund has provided funds for first generation college students and academic programming. I am impressed with the Fund's strong focus, commitment, and growth. The inaugural class was comprised of roughly 55 students, less than ten of who where women. Today, annual enrollment is above 700, and over 50% of the students are women. We regularly hear the success stories of students who have finished degree work, defend their thesis and then return to their communities to improve the lives of others. What I appreciate about Carmen Pampa Fund is that it recognizes that meaningful change takes time and investment, and it has not wavered from its mission. I have met dedicated volunteers, teachers, and students who have enriched my life through their work. I am humbled to be a part of non profit that has a 25 year successful track record of changing the lives of those it serves.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I've been involved with Carmen Pampa Fund and the College in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia, in some capacity (as a volunteer, teacher, staff, donor, etc.) since 2003. It is a unique and inspirational place that has not only transformed the lives of young Bolivians, but people from all around the world who have come to live and work in Carmen Pampa and collaborate with the College's community--people like me. Unlike many NGOs that fund short-term projects and then leave, Carmen Pampa Fund understands that fundamental change takes time and perseverance. Thanks to my 17-year history with the College, I have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand how opportunities in higher education and job and life skill training can change the trajectory of someone's life.

Board Member

Rating: 5

For the past 3 years I've been rewarded with the experience of working with an organization with a crystal clear mission to improve the lives of the students and the community that the UAC Carmen Pampa serves. The results have been equally clear. The college continues to grow in enrollment and programs, and the students take their education back to their communities to enable economic, production, health, social and spiritual growth. I was able to see first-hand during a visit to the college and the community in 2018 the impact of the contributions provided by the Carmen Pampa Fund, the commitment and enthusiasm of the students, and the dedication of the college staff to furthering this mission. It was humbling and rewarding to see how the students, the college, the volunteers and the community take the resources provided by the Fund, and create opportunities that, frankly, couldn't be accomplished any other way. A gift to the Carmen Pampa Fund is the gift of education for individuals and communities that is then multiplied many times over.

Emily G.6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a PiLA fellow for Carmen Pampa Fund this past year and lived at the College for most of that time. Carmen Pampa Fund is made up of a team of incredibly passionate people who care deeply about making higher education possible for students of marginalized rural backgrounds in Bolivia. The work they do has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of graduates of the College. The wonderful community of friends, supporters and volunteers that CPF has built in the US and Bolivia over the years speaks volumes to its integrity and awesome-ness as an organization!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I taught at the UAC for one challenging but ultimately rewarding year. There were so many wonderful people at the school and in the surrounding community -- my life would be poorer if I hadn't met them, and I'll always be grateful to CPF for bringing us together. I've had some great students since then, but none quite like those at the UAC, some of whom still bring a smile to my face. All told, my experiences in Carmen Pampa reaffirmed my commitment to education and justice, and I'll carry them with me for the rest of my life.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I call myself a professional with experience in the field, but I have also been a volunteer at UAC- Carmen Pampa and I am also a donor... because I believe in the cause. I had the pleasure of teaching a UAC-CP on two or three trips to Bolivia. Each time provided a fabulous experience for me and it was fun to see that the students were no different than US college students, other than they were perhaps the MOST inquisitive students I have ever taught. Perhaps that was because I was from the Universidad Estatal de Dakota del Sur en Estados Unitos, but I prefer to believe that their curiosity was inherent, regardless of their instructor.

After my final trip to Bolivia, i continued to advise undergraduate research by a student via distance. I don't know how many micrographs I looked at. There were a lot. Interestingly, that student taught me more about shared folders on the Flickr data cloud than I knew previously. We both learned together.

The work done at the college is life changing for the students, for the volunteers and for the country of Bolivia. Many students go on to big things. But I'll always take away my experiences there and I still tell the stories: when a cloud rolled into the classroom as I was delivering a seminar; when a student told me that my field laboratory had helped put relevance to their classroom studies and when I got an unexpected hug from an appreciative student. UAC-Carmen Pampa is a magical place and it is having a magical impact on the local community and the country.

Martin Draper
Plant Pathologist
Associate Dean of Research, College of Agriculture
Kansas State University
former faculty member at South Dakota State University

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was there at its Dedication, as it was literally ''coming out of the ground," August 1993. Lucky me. Twenty six years ago this month.

What most impresses me today, looking back?
At last count [7/1/13]: 95% of the graduates were employed, 89% in fields of their study, and 72% in the jobs they sought.
More: 48% of grads are women.
More yet: 42% of alums have advanced degrees.
Finally: 62% of them were scholarship recipients.

To be honest, I am very impressed.

Ed Flahavan, St. Paul, MN
Charter Board member.



Volunteer

Rating: 5

In graduate school I had to find an international group where I could do a short term project in engineering and community building. I was lucky enough to find Carmen Pampa and was able to get so much more out of my experience than I imagined. Not only was able to learn about the amazing offerings at Carmen Pampa and meet fabulous students and volunteers, I also got drawn into a couple of different projects with water and biogas. I was excited to find passionate students who had found a school that nurtured and supported their talents and passions. This is a beautiful community doing amazing work in the world to support rural communities in Bolivia. Gracias a todos los que me enseñaron mucho sobre lo que significa construir una comunidad y generar confianza.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

To have the oppotunity to Volunteer at the UAC was one of the best things in my life. It’s such an important work and the People do it with so much passion and heart... thank you for everything

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Jean and I volunteered at Carmen Pampa for three years (2006-9). Since then we have been thrilled to watch our students from poor backgrounds move steadily into positions of influence in their rural areas, taking leadership in business, agriculture, education, medicine, finance, etc.
During our years at Carmen Pampa, we found the students to be exceptionally motivated learners from strong rural families without the psychological handicaps which afflict many North American youngsters in poverty. Also they carry the rural indigenous tradition of working for the common good. This tradition is still very much alive. The university reinforces it requiring every student to contribute at least four hours of work weekly for the college community. The school founder, Sr. Damon Nolan MFIC, would say to the students, “If you are here just to get ahead for yourselves like North American students, I would just as soon you left. You are here for your people, your community.” This is exactly what most of our students have done, returning to their pueblos rather than seeking the better paying jobs in the big city or abroad.
As North Americans, we like to problem-solve international issues by dispatching our experts into the troubled area to ‘resolve the issue’. Our record has not been good. The fact is that addressing problems of poverty requires local knowledge. Situations change rapidly with the political and economic winds. Solutions require the action of educated, confident, dedicated native people. For 25 years Carmen Pampa has excelled at producing such leaders
The price of educating a student at Carmen Pampa ($260/semester) is a tiny fraction the cost of a North American college education. Your small investment can train a leader who will remain in the poor area, will be invested in it beyond simple personal gain, and will continue to lead through the evolving changes in the country. The payback on your donation will compound year after year.

Becky M.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a volunteer with this organization from 2000-2003, then a staff member, then volunteer again. I'm now a board member and have spent most of my professional career working in international development. The Carmen Pampa Fund is a critical support for education for rural, Indigenous youth in Bolivia. The choices and opportunities that follow this education are limitless and the graduates of the college demonstrate that every day. I'll always be an enthusiastic supporter of this organization.

Nate M.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at the University of Carmen Pampa from 2013 - 2015. My wife and I worked as teachers and volunteers in many different capacities. My experience as an English teacher was formational and largely influenced my decision to pursue teaching English Language in the US.
A strong culture of volunteerism has developed in Carmen Pampa due to both foreign volunteers visiting (thanks to Sister Damon and gang) over the years and a deeply rooted Bolivian culture of ayni (reciprocity, helping one another out, or community service). The life around Carmen Pampa is magical; students are improving their lives through education and opportunity, community members are contributing, professionals build their careers and do important research, and ultimately, oppressive systems of poverty are being put to an end. I am forever grateful for the time and experiences I've had in Carmen Pampa. Please support this org. through volunteering or donating!!

1 William W.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I lived and volunteered in Carmen Pampa through the Carmen Pampa Fund for seven months in 2008. This experience was a big part of my reason to keep coming back to Bolivia off and on, and I've been living in La Paz since 2014. Over all these years, I've kept close ties with the Carmen Pampa Fund and the amazing students and administrators of the college. I still support the Fund with video and photography projects in Bolivia, and many of the relationships I have there and at the college - personal and professional - are some of the most important to me. The college continues to change lives of students all over Bolivia, and the Carmen Pampa Fund and it's dedicated staff and volunteers play an indispensable role in making that happen!
Learn more by watching the video above this review. I made this in 2018 with my friend and UAC-Carmen Pampa Agronomy graduate, Reinaldo Mendoza, who today is doing amazing things!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time volunteering at Carman Pampa was an experience that I will never forget. My wife loves the school because they treat females equally with males. There is an equal number of females in the school as males.

The curriculum was designed so that the students obtain degrees skills that will benefit their home community; Education, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Agronomy and Tourism. All students take Spanish and English and are computer literate.

Every student must pass a test to ensure they are ready for college. If they don’t get a satisfactory grade on the test, they are required to take an extra year to bring them up to college level. They are also tested before they graduate to ensure that they have obtained the knowledge to deserve the degree in that field.

Carmen Pampa is an excellent university. They take their job of educating every student very seriously. I was very impressed with the level of dedication by the university and the students.

Norm B.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been privileged to have visited the Unidad Académica Campesina (UAC) in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia on two occasions, and have supported the Carmen Pampa Fund for several years. I am a strong believer in education--it works! And I've seen it firsthand, the school and its supporting nonprofit are doing exactly what they state: transforming the lives of people in Bolivia through education. Everyone involved in this effort cares, and the results speak for themselves. Go to their website and see. Support this cause!

Catherine Grace M.

Donor

Rating: 5

I volunteered in Carmen Pampa in 2008 and 2009 and witnessed first hand what a difference even a relatively small amount of money makes in the education and lives of the students and communities in Bolivia. I believe in the mission of the Carmen Pampa Fund so much that a decade later I still donate, make sure I give through Amazon smile, and ask friends and family members to donate on my birthday through Facebook.

Sheila M.4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

When one talks and dreams about changing the world (or even a piece of it) the UAC-Carmen Pampa immediately comes to mind. Having been involved with the UAC from the beginning, I have seen the lives, individual and community, that it has touched and changed through education. Students that would never have dreamed of being able to pursue higher education have had the opportunity to not only receive their degrees, but many to return to their communities and become leaders in raising the standards of health care, education, agriculture and much more. It is the through the generosity of donors and very well managed funds of the UAC that so many young Bolivians can not only dream but participate in changing the world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience in 2006 in Carmen Pampa as a volunteer math teacher at the University was so rewarding that I returned yearly to contribute what I could to this remarkable educational venture. Working with the students (including some of those in the video) has expanded my horizons and enriched my life enormously . The University runs on a shoestring and deserves generous support for the work it does to transform the lives of impoverished Bolivians.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My work with the UAC Carmen Pampa was life changing. There is a palatable buzz on campus and in the community. The students, staff, community, and Carmen Pampa Fund staff know there’s something incredibly special happening and all are so proud to be a part of it. My work with the students and Carmen Pampa Fund team is a source of inspiration that I still draw on today. The students desire to learn, the faculties passion for teaching, and the communities engagement is unlike any I’ve ever seen in other developing countries and similar projects. Myself, extended family members, and colleagues continue to support the Carmen Pampa Fund through charitable donations and I can’t imagine that we will ever stop. Seeing success stories coming out regularly only fuels our desire to continue supporting in any way we can.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The UAC at Carmen Pampa won a UN award for poverty-reduction. The UAC evolved from a high school in Carmen Pampa when the community realized that its graduates left for the city. The response was to create a college offering programs such as nursing, agriculture, and education that are useful in rural areas, so that graduates stay to help local people. This was a brilliant response to rural poverty and is the basis of the UN award. Your donation to this university will directly alleviate the poverty of its students and the community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with many non-profits over the years, but never one as successful at poverty eradication for rural people as Carmen Pampa Fund. They use education as their main tool to help young students achieve skills which the students then promise to bring to their communities, so that all in the village can benefit. They are extremely efficient with the money they raise to help these students with their tuition for the college in Bolivia, relying heavily on volunteers who are more than happy to contribute their time and hearts to this amazing mission. Carmen Pampa Fund is the most successful and efficient poverty eradication organization I have ever encountered.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful organization where your money works to efficiently and effectively provide a college education to Bolivian students. Its a great bang for your buck!

Miguel Z.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

very, but very succesful in terms of number of undergraduates continuing their education in the US and coming back to help their school and their country. As a bolivian I strongly recommend this nonprofit and appreciate those who help it.

Heather Joffe R.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to see their outstanding work first hand in Bolivia since 2008 when I supervised a U.S. government-funded grant made to the organization. (I work for a federal contractor that was in turn making federally-funded grants to NGOs.) Based on my personal experience and opinion, I can state that this is a well-run, responsable, ethical organization doing outstanding work to improve the lives of rural Bolivian families. Now that I’m no longer involved in federal grant-making, over the years I’ve been pleased to follow their work and make small donations in a personal capacity.