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2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Via International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Community Improvement & Capacity Building, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Food, International, Nutrition, Promotion of International Understanding

Mission: Via International works across borders engaging leaders to promote sustainable development in under resourced communities. We utilize a participatory process where people identify their needs and take individual and collective action to improve quality of life.

Results: Via International integrates community development initiatives with education and volunteerism to build leadership capacity and promote self reliance in underserved communities. Via's expertise lies in developing relationships at the grassroots level and listening and responding to the needs of the community. We support community-driven projects that build leadership skills, bolster economic stability, promote gender equality, self-empowerment and civic engagement, and provide long-term solutions to improve the lives and health of individuals and strengthen community. Programs are designed to be led by community members, in support of the development of the individual for the betterment of the whole. Via itself only has 6 staff members, yet our programs reach many thousands of people each year. We achieve this through a model of community engagement and support of community-led initiatives that value participation, volunteerism and civic engagement. We believe when people thrive, community thrives and when communities thrive, people thrive.

Target demographics: Low-income communities, primarily women and children. Also service oriented corporations and youth interested in volunteering.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 3215 community members (women and children) 1420 volunteers (student and corporate)

Geographic areas served: Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, San Diego, Appalachia, Sri Lanka.

Programs: Emerging from the communities, programs are designed to improve quality of life through nutrition and ecology training, community leadership education and microcredit and microenterprise support. Educational travel programs offer service learning opportunities to engage with community development initiatives locally and abroad and provide a framework to nourish personal development, foster community engagement, strengthen organizations, and promote global dialogue.

Community Stories

10 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

Via gives those who are less fortunate the programs and support to find their way to support themselves and family members. They help support to keep the Border Church alive. Offer the opportunity to through Zoom to communicate across the San Diego/Tijuana Border. And have wonderful Zoom interviews with the folks on the ground both in the US and Mexico to help educate in real time what is happening from varies points of view that supports the less fortunate. They reacted to help set up ways to feed those in need with the system they already had in place in Tijuana with refugees. They continuing look for ways to improve and educate us all.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have only been involved with this organization a short amount of time, but am very impressed with their attention to detail especially around teaching diversity. The organization has excellent values as well as incredible teachers and staff who offer the community a base for communication and understanding.

Daniel W.4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

An amazing organization doing so much to help communitie on both sides of the border and connecting people across the border. I am a teacher with the Escuela amistad program and I can tell you first hand that the students learn language and culture in a fun and inspiring way an they keep coming back!

Robert V.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Via International, offers what is lacking from govermental programs. A real opportunity for communities to improve their quality of life, by developing community development programs to address the percular needs of each community, while creating community jobs.

Karen C.10

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Via International has been the leader in Southern California for decades in the economic development of the Mexican/American border. President Elisa Sabatini is a rock star in the microfinance arena in the US, Mexico, and Guatemala. Take a look at Friendship Park and its work with migrants, refugees, and low-income families. The organization is hands-on, visionary, and a model for how the United States should be working in the best interest of all our border neighbors. How can the richest nation in the world accept the poverty of our next-door humanity? Via deserves recognition worldwide.

Rhonda P.1

Donor

Rating: 5

I love what this organization in doing for the community at hand in north baja, mx. They have excellent programs for local communities such as feeding the immigrants, etc. also programs for expats, such as spanish classes and via voices so we can learn more about the community at hand. I am proud to be a recurring donor...

Board Member

Rating: 5

For more than thirty years I have had the opportunity to observe the work of Via International and to serve on the Board of Directors. I am currently the Board Chairman. My long term involvement has been a blessing in my life as I see first hand the amazing role that Via plays in the communities where we work. Via does not simply help people by donating or working for them; rather our efforts are to work with the individuals and community to improve their quality of life. Our efforts are to focused on the needs they identify and to offer a route to self sufficiency. The projects bring educaton, improvent programs, and solutions to community challenges. We help identify resources and solutions, and we work with them to directly impact their daily lives. These broad goals demand creative solutions. Via helps them create an action plan, support them with financial and educational resources, and strive for self-sufficiency, Our ongoing programs include establishing and funding microcredit groups, nutrition education, and practical ways to improve community life. Our promotora education classes have trained and prepared several hundred women through Promotora Education classes. After a two year preparation these "graduates" become resources and support in their communities, and many of our promotora sthen go on to spread this method in other communities. It has been rewarding to see the tremendous impact of these efforts over the years. I am proud of the positive impact that Via has encouraged and facilitated over these decades. We certainly don't pretend that we can solve all the problems and challenges confronting our groups. But Via does make a difference in lives. The staff leadership has partnered with the communities and worked with them to improve their situation, often overcoming daunting challenges through creative solutions. Via truly does make a difference.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Via International is a small non-profit with more than 40 years experience. Its work in global education and community development has benefited numerous people in the San Diego-Tijuana border region, central Mexico, Costa Rica, and other sites. Via's actions and programs are focused on human development--that is, the idea that people live better and more meaningful lives when they have more choices in life and the ability to realize them. Via has a long and successful record of working with migrants in Tijuana, where many people come to cross into the United States but end up settling when they find they cannot cross the border. The goal of many of the programs is to provide training to new community members, mostly women, who can act as advocates and promoters of their families and communities. Via provides nutritional training so families can eat healthy food on a modest budget, assistance in organizing microfinance programs for those who want to start their own business, food support for newly arrived migrants, support for deported veterans, virtual chat rooms for people in the US who want to practice Spanish or converse with a migrant in Tijuana, and a range of other activities that address the humanitarian crisis on the border and the enormous asymmetry between San Diego and Tijuana. I am proud to be a board member of Via.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I feel very privileged to have worked with Via International in the summer of 2018 through a fellowship the University of San Diego offered through the Tom and Karen Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness, and Social Action. I was able to live in Tijuana and work with Via International and Fundacion GAIA. In Tijuana, Via International or Los Niños de Baja California specialized in helping children and families in the Tijuana/Tecate area to live a sustainable life by creating opportunities for young people in the region. Part of what made this organization so impressive was how it was run by members of this community. All the strong women in the office were neighbors, friends, and family of people who received support from this organization. I was surprised to have met a mother and daughter both serving in Via International displaying the importance of family within the organization. An organization like Los Niños de Baja California and Via International have demonstrated their strong connection with the community they serve. Some of the projects they have been able to complete were improving parks and working on the garden on the Tijuana side of the US/Mexico border. Thank you Via International and Los Niños de Baja California for all the hard work and dedication you have to your community!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I was in high school (I’m now a student at UC Berkeley) I took a trip to Guatemala with Via International. I’m not sure what I expected exactly but the trip was eye opening in regards to how the people we met, although generally so poor, were so kind, welcoming and genuinely happy. It was an amazing life lesson for me at that time of my life. Thanks Via!