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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Floresta USA, Inc./ Plant With Purpose

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Agricultural Programs, Economic Development, Environment, Food, Forest Conservation, International, International Agricultural Development, Microfinance, Rural Economic Development

Mission: Plant With Purpose, a Christian nonprofit, reverses cycles of poverty and deforestation by transforming the lives of the rural poor. Founded in 1984, Plant With Purpose catalyzes the talent and ingenuity of farming families to transform entire watersheds. We do so through a holistic model of development focused on environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal. Of people living in poverty worldwide, up to 85 percent live in rural areas. Most struggle to grow enough food to feed their families and send their children to school. Plant With Purpose equips farming families to change their circumstances and to live with hope. We do this through sustainable agriculture training, land restoration, community-led savings groups, church partnerships, and local leadership development.

Results: Our most recent impact evaluation showed that Plant With Purpose families cut their poverty level by nearly two-thirds. Compared to non-participants, Plant with purpose partnering families: Are 2.3 times as likely to save and have twice the savings reserve; Are 55 percent more likely to send their daughters to secondary school; Plant 5.7 times as many trees; Experience 37 percent higher crop yields; Help their neighbors 20 percent more often; Are 64 percent more likely to say they have the power to improve their lives. Since our founding Plant With Purpose has mobilized farmers to plant more than 37 million trees. We currently work alongside more than 41,000 farming families, benefiting more than 221,000 adults and children. We look forward to seeing God transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as we continue to faithfully love our neighbor and promote environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal among farming families.

Target demographics: Globally, 85 percent of the world’s poor live in rural settings and many rely on agriculture to survive. Deforestation and environmental degradation threaten vulnerable farming families, leading to food insecurity and a vicious cycle of poverty. This same degradation threatens the sustainability of our global climate and ecosystem. Plant With Purpose aims to reverse this cycle through a three-part community development model focused on environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In fiscal year 2020, Plant With Purpose worked in eight different countries, walking alongside 751 communities, and empowering 41,798 farming families (benefitting 221,937 adults and children). In order to reverse the cycle of poverty and deforestation, Plant With Purpose mobilized farming families to plant more than 4.7 million trees, trained 286 new community-led savings groups while strengthening 1,361 groups, and established 66 new church partnerships while strengthening 679.

Geographic areas served: Plant With Purpose empowers indigenous farming families facing deforestation and poverty to transform their lives, their land, and their communities. We currently work in Burundi, Dominican Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Mexico, Tanzania, and Thailand. By 2025, we will work in 10 countries, 60 watersheds, and with over 100,000 families as we seek to become the premier organization operating at the nexus of poverty alleviation and environmental restoration.

Programs: By simultaneously focusing on environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal, Plant With Purpose promotes holistic transformation for rural communities. Environmental restoration is achieved primarily by mobilizing farmers to plant trees and hosting sustainable agriculture workshops. Partnering farmers plant millions of trees every year including native species as well as non-native species that benefit the community (e.g. trees for fruit and fodder). These trees restore the land, improve water sources, and promote better crop yields. Sustainable agriculture workshops likewise lead to a restored environment and more nutritious food for families. Our multi-year environmental core curriculum “Seeds of Change,” covers topics such as composting, agroforestry, farmer-managed natural regeneration, and whole ecosystem health. Economic empowerment occurs primarily through community-led savings groups where approximately 25 community members meet to save income, take out loans, and contribute to a social fund. Access to these financial services leads to improved livelihoods, increased education for children, and financial resilience. Through church partnerships and leadership training, Plant With Purpose promotes spiritual renewal among farming families. These efforts reinforce a strong commitment to community and reconciliation, and have resulted in increased hope, self-worth, and faith.

Community Stories

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Plant with Purpose has created a successful plan for rural agricultural development in impoverished countries. They have planted over 35 million trees to restore the land and reverse deforestation. They work with farm families to introduce sustainable agricultural techniques to improve crop yields with the resources available. Local farm members are shown how to form savings and loans. Through their own regular savings programs they provide equity for growth and future needs. Partnerships with local churches lead to spiritual renewal. All this has helped lift over 39,000 rural farm families out of poverty. Neighbors are observing the success of Plant with Purpose farmers and are asking them for help to improve their own situations. Plant with Purpose has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Donor

Rating: 5

Graceway Church in Pleasanton California has Partnered with Floresta USA /Plant with Purpose for several years as a donor. Our passion is to support non-profits that share the love of God and give opportunities for growth, hope, and sustainability through education and partnership. We love the fact that they are helping people out of poverty, reversing deforestation, increasing crop yields while walking with God and helping families grow in their faith. The fact that they also provide opportunities for Mission Trips is also a blessing.

Donor

Rating: 5

I began supporting Floresta, now Plant With Purpose, about 25 years ago. Their staff are sincere and dedicated people who believe in their mission to reverse deforestation and bring people out of poverty.
The work they do truly transforms lives and gives people hope and a purpose. The stories of the people they help are powerful. Theirs are stories of hope and a future, change and empowerment, and transformed lives and communities.
Not only does Plant With Purpose tell people’s stories, they back them up with statistics and data that are themselves a powerful testimony to the work they do.
When I give to Plant With Purpose, I do it with joyful heart because I know that I am giving with a purpose.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is the most thoughtful and comprehensive engine for good I have ever seen!! They just keep getting better and better at finding things that make life better for people, the forest, agriculture, endangered animals, water tables, education, commerce, the atmosphere... the list is endless.

If you have $1 an you want it do the most good for the world, give it to Plant with Purpose.

If you have $1 Million and you want it to do the most good for the world... well I still recommend Plant with Purpose.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My husband and I were able to visit communities in Tanzania served by Floresta. It was really exciting to see how "teaching people to fish" instead of giving them fish has helped people and communities pull themselves up out of poverty. People were able to start businesses with microloans that enabled them to feed/ clothe/ and pay school fees. Floresta has been very successful in Tanzania as other countries as demonstrated by their annual growth which includes planting trees to reforest the land, setting up microloan/community savings programs and teaching skills such as organic farming and animal husbandry. Programs are practical and successful.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I started supporting Floresta/Plant With Purpose some 25 years ago by being modest but regular donors. Our church was prayerfully and financially supporting Floresta as a part of its mission program at the time and we trusted their evaluation of the program. I soon became a regular volunteer by helping plan and execute the annual fund-raising effort - the Planting Hope Gala. What a privilege it was to work alongside the efficient and caring office staff! Wanting to really see Floresta at work in the field, our daughter joined us and others to visit Floresta Tanzania in 2006. It was then that we experienced the warm relationships build with the partnering communities and the effective programs built around the Community Savings Bank (VICOBA), agriculture, animal husbandry, tree planting, general environmental issues and church. We continue to be actively involved with Plant With Purpose and are always encouraging others to participate in whatever way possible with this very worthwhile and growing organization.

Donor

Rating: 5

I first learned about Plant with Purpose about 4 years ago through Valerie Foulkes, regional rep whose area includes Houston, Texas. The three-part commitment to Environmental Restoration, Community Financial Strength, and Spiritual Community Growth hooked me. Any org that addresses one is worth paying attention to. An org that leverages all three to build on each other in a healthy upward spiral is worth supporting!
I've seen firsthand the work done by PwP with its local partners. I joined the Oaxaca, Mexico Vision Trip in summer of 2017 and was blown away by the talent, dedication, humility, and grace shown by Plant with Purpose staff in the field (goes by the name Mission Integral in MX). I saw the work of Environmental Restoration, Village Savings and Loan Groups, and Community Restoration in the valleys and highlands of Oaxaca. Both local staff (from Oaxaca and Chiapas, some of whom spoke indigenous languages like Mixtec growing up and didn't learn Spanish until their teenage years) and community members were pouring their talents and passion to build up their local environment, their own community's financial resources (only their own money, no cash donations are given; it's their own resources they're building using savings techniques taught by local PwP staff), and community/spiritual strengths.
I'm happy to support Plant with Purpose because this org addresses three areas that mutually reinforce each other. I'm especially happy that this org is committed not to giving and leaving but instead to teaching, training, and walking with the communities it partners with over the course of years. That partnership gives communities space to develop their own talents and resources, meaning when the partnership ends, the community will continue to thrive using their own skills and resources.
-Liston

1 Terry T.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've seen hundreds of development projects, visiting more than 30 countries in Africa, South America and South Asia, and none of them have approached the degree of effectiveness of Plant With Purpose. Development projects funded by large agencies are usually time-limited and driven by metrics that have been developed to justify funding. Often, project success is measured in terms of the amount of money spent; if all the money is spent, the project was a success.

In contrast, Plant With Purpose uses a completely different mechanism of empowerment built on a foundation of trust built on faith and years of community involvement. Plant with Purpose uses a whole-community approach to development resulting in environmental stewardship, financial empowerment and Good Agricutural and Foresty Practices that result in lasting change.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I learned of Plant with Purpose through Matthew Sleeth, a Christian environmentalist and author of Reforesting Faith. When Sleeth came to our church last fall to preach and participate in a community tree-planting project, he invited a representative of PWP, Dave Luebkeman, to join us. Over lunch I learned about PWP's work and found myself committing to make a gift larger than I had ever before made to a single nonprofit (besides my own church). Why? It seems PWP has cracked the code on a problem that had troubled me since I'd spent 3 and a half years as a foreign service spouse in SubSaharan Africa: the hopelessness of poverty in a region of the world where tribalism, combined with strongman politics, suppressed individual ambition and agency. Those who worked hard to try to get ahead were subject to continual requests from poorer relatives and friends. There was a social imperative to give to “brothers” who asked for help. This undermined ambition in ordinary people; while in those with political ambitions, it fueled corruption, graft, and bribery. A big man needed lots of money simply to satisfy the incessant demands of those who called him chief. He would siphon money out of the local economy in order to redistribute it to dependent supporters.

I saw many relief efforts being made by NGOs, but the only efforts that ever seemed to do any good were those with a Christian connection. I wasn’t sure why. It seemed to have something to do with the selflessness of the Christian volunteers and with the ability of Christianity to inspire hope. Not being an active Christian at the time, I remained mystified.

In the years since then, I joined a church and learned something about what Christian groups can accomplish—often tackling problems that government cannot solve. But I’ve never encountered a Christian group with such a comprehensive, integrated approach as Plant With Purpose. They combine the Christian message that all individuals have value in God’s eyes with the Christian approach of community action (sounds like an oxymoron, but in Christian life it isn’t). They’ve connected this to education in good land restoration practices, sustainable agriculture, and financial savings and reinvestments.

Scott Sabin made sense of it all for me when he told a story about the “gift of work.” He explicated the parable of the talents. Why is the poor man condemned for fearfully burying his one talent? Sabin said the story points to the vulnerability of the poor to feelings of worthlessness. The hopelessness of their situation causes the little hope that remains to shrink. They become dependent on the good grace of the powerful. But when people are made to feel they have talents to share and a purpose in God’s larger plan, they are energized. Instead of merely asking for help, they offer it to others. Every person wants to feel valued in that way—because of what he or she can contribute.

I didn’t explain that too clearly, so go to this link to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVpS_OmmQBU&list=PLkcI-JABdvGg4YmDhBvrHACECGuotBu13&index=9.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Plant With Purpose for more than 30 years. I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and visit several communities where they have partnered with the local residents. Seeing first hand what positive impact Plant With Purpose has had transforming lives, reversing deforestation, providing spiritual renewal, and developing sustainable agriculture was amazing. They can now grow their food and even sell some of their crops to their neighbors. My favorite part of our trip was meeting the people. They were very proud and appreciative of the changes in their lives. They now have hope for their future.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a supporter of Plant with Purpose for many years. They have always been consistent and faithful. This group has struck a very special chord of combining issues that are usually separate for greater impact. I admire their work to unite and not divide and always being thoughtful and so smart in their approach yet willing to learn. It is truly a unique group! I recall years ago the director visited us at our home and I offered him a small cookie (or something :) I noticed how intentional he seemed to be not taking a paper napkin I offered. In hindsight I believe he was consciously saving a tree. That is the kind of sincere, humble people they are.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

My family has supported this organization for over 35 years. I don't know of any other Christian organization that gets to the root of poverty by supporting local communities through environmental stewardship and sustainability in the way that they do. The staff in the United States and the locals in the various countries show outstanding character and leadership. It is an honor to participate with Plant with Purpose to make a positive long-lasting impact in communities around the world and to create sustainable agricultural systems that benefit all of us.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Excellent impact, accountability, and ethos. Smart, thoughtful organization which I am proud to support.

2 Jenna R.4

Donor

Rating: 5

Plant with Purpose is a dedicated and wonderful partner. We have loved working with them!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

We have supported Plant With Purpose for over 25 years because it has proven to produce real, quantifiable results in alleviating poverty. Its holistic approach to addressing poverty and its root causes is unique, as its deep partnerships with organizations in the countries in which it operates programs. The organization is lean, well-run, and extremely effective.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Traveled with the executive director and his family , we witnessed the most incredible and generational changes in the families of Tanzania. Especially the children. Children often instructed us in how to plant and grow vegetables, how to build compost piles, and how to tend to the Floresta gardens. They have planted over 10 million trees around the base of Kilimanjaro, and person after person continued to credit the work of Floresta with snows returning to Kilimanjaro and the watershed restored. This organization encourages and equips the subsistence farmers and people of poverty to rise above their circumstances and with the Grace of God restore this beautiful Eden.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Plant with Purpose is an organization our family has supported for many years, and we are so grateful for the mission statement this organization lives by, and the lives they are changing. PWP practices lifting families out of poverty by teaching families and communities how to lift themselves out of poverty by teaching agricultural principles and providing dignity and respect to these families. I have seen first hand how these communities have changed and how the health of the community has improved since PWP has come in and provided hope, education and hands on help in planting, building cisterns, teaching the importance of taking care of the land that has so much to offer when taken care of properly. I have visited the community of Oaxaca, Mexico where PWP has been established for over 20 years. I have been there 4 times and each year I have seen how the community and families have changed, improved health, and the ability for families to be able to stay in their communities and grow their own food, and provide a living for themselves. This organization is reversing the cycle of poverty for those that are involved. So much to be thankful for as we see the improvements year by year.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was able to visit one of the villages that Plant with Purpose has helped. Such incredible improvement in their village life - from their planting techniques to their own savings and loan. They were so proud to share their accomplishments with us!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Just got back from the Plant with Purpose Oaxaca vision trip. The program is amazing. The positive relationship between Mission Integrel and Plant With Purpose allows financial support to go straight to the villages in need. Materials, supplies, education, and mentoring create a hands on formula for success. Plant With Purpose changes lives for the better and promotes a sustainable future for the villages and people participating in the program. A must and great non profit deserving your support

4

Donor

Rating: 5

Plant With Purpose is indeed a Godly "grass roots" organization. I have been lucky enough to travel to Oaxaca and serve the people there for many years. The mission and message of PWP is Hands ON....and by hiring In Country experts to teach and guide the farmers and villagers we have seen lives enriched, encouraged and nurtured. We have indeed seen lives saved. By learning to plant to increase their crops, learning to build cisterns, to build cleaner wood burning stoves, to create micro-finance groups PWP has changed the lives of young and old. PWP is a place to donate your time, talent and treasure. It has certainly changed MY life as a volunteer and donor. I have know the directors of PWP for many years (since its inception) and know the mission and heart of many involved. It is a very special non-profit and worthy of a Great Non-profit status! Thank you for the opportunity to provide a little insight into this beautiful organization.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been to Oaxaca, Mexico with Plant with Purpose a couple times over the span of 10 years and could see the difference that they made. Plant with Purpose works with a local team teaching sustainable farming and land management. It also helps the community to develop a savings and loan program which provides economic independence and empowerment especially for women.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

My husband and I are so impressed with Plant With Purpose and support them every year! They do an amazing job of reaching out to communities in need to help them improve their farming practices and introduce new effective techniques, including teaching them how to reforest their land to replenish the soil and control erosion. Even more importantly, they empower these remote communities by helping them create their own community based savings and loan programs. All of these efforts move the communities to not only be successful, but also to be independent. I was blessed this year to be able to visit one of the communities near Oaxaca and came away so energized by the progress of the community and the pride and ownership of its members. Plant With purpose embodies all a true philanthropy should be!

3 John D.6

Donor

Rating: 5

I LOVE Plant With Purpose’s business model which is aimed at helping people solve their own problems. They don’t use money to put band-aides on issues but, rather, to create change that will last.

3 Alena H.

Donor

Rating: 5

When we were first introduced to Plant With Purpose at our home church several years ago, we were immediately impressed by the organization's holistic approach to ending poverty. As we have supported Plant With Purpose through the years, we have been blown away by the intentional, long term commitment PWP has to the communities they serve. By focusing on environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal, it is clear that Plant With Purpose is dedicated to finding permanent solutions to rural poverty. It has been both a blessing and privilege to watch the organization deepen and expand its work, and we look forward to seeing how God continues to move within these communities.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

An amazing organization filled with some of the most humble and thoughtful people I know. They do super effective, well-researched work and I am proud to support them. Excellent team and org!!!!

4

Donor

Rating: 5

Plant With Purpose is authentic, thoughtful, and strategic in their approach to environmental restoration and poverty alleviation. I've supported the organization for the past 6 years and visited multiple partner countries and the global leadership and staff are 110% committed to the mission and direction of the organization and they hold true to their core values, mission, and stewardship of resources with the utmost integrity. With an extensive background in nonprofits, Plant With Purpose is one of the most effective organizations in this complex environmental and people-centric work and I believe they are tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our world today. My heart, soul, and resources are fully behind this wonderful organization.

2 Laurie Edwards A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on a trip to Oaxaca with Plant With Purpose one year. They are wonderful - the people of Oaxaca chop down all their trees for coal to sell, stripping the land. This organization teaches them ways to provide for themselves through growing crops, shows them how to invest their money in their communities and provides them with water cisterns and clean burning stoves. We met with, and broke bread with, so many Oaxacans. This is a hands on organization!

3

Donor

Rating: 5

Plant With Purpose is probably one of if not the best nonprofit in this field. It has changed the lives of literally thousands and thousands of people. It has put them into positions in life for which they never would have had the opportunity and it has healed the earth at the same time it has healed their souls. I would donate to Plant With Purpose without hesitation and have been doing so for the past 34 years.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was my first year in Oaxaca visiting three different villages with nine women from my church and the staff with Plant with Purpose. I was amazed and humbled by what I saw and the impact Plant with Purpose has made in the life of its participating Oaxacans. They teach them how to sustain themselves through educating them on reforesting their land, how to plant crops, waters cisterns, stoves, latrines. The staff is knowledgable and caring. They have truly changed lives, mine included.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was eight years ago that I first learned of Plant with Purpose when I signed up to travel with a group of women from our church to Oaxaca Mexico. I went thinking it would be fun, I didn't expect it to be life-changing. Prior to going, I had no idea of the devastating circumstances that were forcing people to immigrate just to make enough money to send home for their families to survive. The lack of water, and lack of topsoil due to deforestation had left them with land that could no longer sustain them.I learned that they didn't want to come to the United States, they dreamed of being able to stay home and work their land living simply as they had for generations. Education, clean water, outhouses a concrete stove and some seeds are all they need to make that dream a reality. Plant with Purpose and it's primarily volunteer staff work tirelessly to fulfill that dream but the need is great. Only this week I learned that it took 8 years on a waiting list before a cistern was provided and that there are currently 100 people on that list. Please help.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been connected with Plant with Purpose since 2011, which is the first year I traveled to the villages of Oaxaca in a vision trip. I have just returned from my 5 th vision trip and am overwhelmed with the implimantation of so many PwP projects in the villages. There is so much pride and sense of community and self worth with the beautiful people we as a team visit each year. There is so much hope and love received and given within these villages. I highly respect Plant with Phrpose and am honored to be part of a group of women dedicated to visiting and living the people PwP serves in Oaxaca.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

My husband and I went to the very first fundraiser for Plant With Purpose in 1984 - it was called Floresta then. They had a holistic vision of development which caught our hearts and minds - empowering people to overcome poverty with economic, environmental and spiritual renewal. We began giving and volunteering in various ways and thirty four years later, Plant With Purpose has now planted over 27 million trees in 8 deforested countries (Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Thailand, Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia (new), and has enabled thousands of people to feed their families and escape poverty by teaching them the skills they need. We have visited 5 of the 8 countries where Plant With Purpose works and have met firsthand the women who learned to tend their own family gardens and chicken coops, and people who now have less sickness by growing their own organic vegetables and drinking clean water from the teachings of Plant With Purpose. I am now a board member and am very proud to watch the way this NGO has grown and impacts the world. Plant With Purpose conducts studies to assess its impact and has found that their villages have 50% less water-borne disease, poverty is reduced over 65%, girls are twice as likely to attend secondary school in additional to planting millions of trees to shore up hillsides and renew the land. Children learn how to plant and care for the land in many schools and Plant With Purpose also works through local churches to teach the importance of creation care, the Theology of Work and how to build communities.