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Community Empowerment Network

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community Improvement & Capacity Building, Economic Development, International, International Economic Development, Microfinance, Rural Economic Development

Mission: The Community Empowerment Network (CEN), which was incorporated in 2004, was founded to pursue the community development efforts started by Acumen International, founded in 1994. CEN grew out the need to more fully realize the potential of Information Technology to help isolated communities throughout the world to derive more benefits from the global economy, to end the cycle of dependency on governments and other organizations and to successfully direct their own development priorities and community objectives. CEN does this by helping individuals and communities develop a wide range of skills, attitudes and social and physical resources needed to pursue their objectives.

Results: Building self reliance doesn't happen overnight. Until now, CEN has primarily focused on creating the tools for building strong foundation for development by strengthening basic skills and habits of a small group of participants in three communities in the Brazilian Amazon. We are addressing one of the root causes of poverty and not just the symptoms. One of the most significant accomplishments of our work to-date is the development of our comprehensive approach to building self reliance in communities, as well as our unique learning approach called PRATICAR, which sets CEN apart from the work done by many other development organizations. Our pilot project in the Amazon has succeeded and more than a year after it ended, community members are still using the skills they developed during the pilot. For more details on specific impact of our work, please visit: http://www.endruralpoverty.org/what-we-do/our-impact

Target demographics: Residents and communities of the Brazilian Amazon

Direct beneficiaries per year: 3990

Geographic areas served: Brazilian Amazon

Programs: Jua Community-based eco-tourism program Entrepreneur's Program Couro Ecologico Rubber products

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

I have worked as an english-portuguese translator . I have translated articles of practical interest to residents in the communities served by CEN. I have also donated money to CEN. I was a member of the first group of tourists to travel with CEN to the communities served by CEN. We stayed in small local inns and in the homes of residents. The contact was very personal with many friends made near Santarem, Brazil, during our trip. The organization of the trip was excellent.

The communities are working on developing ecotourism in their areas and CEN is helping them develop and carry out their plans. CEN only provides primarily information and guidance, when asked. The residents themselves are making the plans and doing the work. We attended a large meeting at the end of our trip to give feedback and help the organizers further develop their plans.


Board Member

Rating: 4

I am a former board member (2006-2010) and volunteer of CEN. In 2007 I visited the communities in the Brazilian Amazon where CEN works. I believe that CEN’s emphasis on self-reliance is critical for these communities to break out of poverty. I am excited to see the evolution of CEN’s PRATICAR methodology which empowers community members to take on self-directed projects.
I also feel that I grew tremendously as a person and as a professional in the development field through my involvement with CEN. Since CEN is a fairly small organization, I always felt like I mattered, and that I was highly valued as a member of a team.



Rating: 4

As a fundraising volunteer, I have found myself in a great position to tell people about our organization and the work being down in Brazil. Normally, people are very interested in the work but do not know how to help, which is why fundraising is such an important part of the work. We can engage our audience/members, while providing much needed support to our friends in the Brazil. I look forward to future projects that I will take on for CEN!

2 Danica E.


Rating: 5

When volunteering, I look for organizations that make a real difference and encourage growth, self-reliance. The Community Empowerment Network is still small, but the impact they have on adopted communities is lasting. Their volunteer efforts do more than just throw money at problems; this is an organization that understands the difference between creating dependence and helping communities grow into successful groups with the power to control the community destiny. Nearly every cent of every dollar directly benefits the projects and only one person in the entire organization receives a salary. That person is on the ground in Brazil and uses their modest salary to implement CEN projects full-time. That contact person devotes his time assisting the communities that would otherwise be lost in time, overrun by the modern expansion nearby. If you want to make a difference and know that someone’s life is better when they come in contact with your organization, I highly recommend the Community Empowerment Network whether you are volunteering locally in the Puget Sound area, virtually on your computer at home, or simply offering CEN activities fiscal support.



Rating: 4

I have been on the volunteer management team with CEN for a year. I chose the volunteer with this organization because of the focus on long term self-sustaining solutions to poverty instead of just one time hand outs. I am able to contribute the skills and knowledge gained from my professional career while also actively problem solving and learning from new experiences. In addition, this role is a great fit for me because it is virtual so I don't have to be in the same location as the rest of the team or find child care while I am volunteering. It is flexible so I am able to work when I have time instead of needing to block time off in my schedule. I like the freedom of being able to contribute ideas and stretch beyond what the rigid structure of the traditional work environment allows. For those who aren't able to work independently this role would not be a good fit, but for me it works very well.