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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Foundation for Sustainable Development

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Alliances & Advocacy, Arts & Culture, Economic Development, International, International Economic Development, Microfinance, Philanthropy

Mission: FSD supports the efforts of grassroots development organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are working to better their communities, environments, and the economic opportunities around them. We believe economic development begins with community development and is only sustainable if it comes from and is supported by the members of these communities. Also, through our programs, we aim to raise international awareness of the economic challenges in developing countries and support cross-cultural communities in finding more effective solutions to development issues.

Target demographics: International communities achieve locally based goals and improve lives and communities.

Geographic areas served: Latin America, Africa, Asia

Programs: Capacity building in community-based development programs; training in community development for student and professional volunteers who work with our partners; grantmaking to community partners; engaged phlianthropy through giving circles

Community Stories

171 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Through FSD I was able to experience the technological challenges that villagers in Uganda face. FSD did 2 things very well. Firstly, they assigned me to a community that was excited about technology and found me a wonderful host family. Living among the community and working with them to provide useful sustainable businesses could not have happened with my organization alone. Secondly they advised me on how to best approach sustainable development. The keys rules are to ensure that any initiative you and the community spend time building, is one where all the correct incentives line up such that the initiative continues well past your time. This was important advice to ensuring that your time is not wasted on projects that fail. Instead, most FSD projects lead to some tangible benefit for the community because the community is the main driver. The interns learn a great deal and help where they can by offering their knowledge and experience in a very different part of the world. This is a passive but highly effective method of development.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 4

In May 2015 I did a service trip with FSD to Nicaragua. I didn't like the hotel they put us up in (no air conditioning?!), but other than that, it was a great trip. My group worked with this little drug prevention youth organization that was pretty together, and they were expanding their marketing plan. I have some Spanish skills, so I did some interviews with kids at the organization and I loved that. I also got to speak with the executive director, who was really impressive. The country obviously needs a lot of work, and people like her are doing that. Glad I got to help.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I did an internship with FSD as a career transition--I'd been out of school for bout five years and was working as a teacher, but I was getting burned out. When I started at their office, I was struck by how focused everyone was and by how present the idea of sustainability was in the everyday work.

I worked mainly with the organization's donors, helping them get connected with projects that were important to them, and also reaching out to find new donors. Because the admin staff is pretty small, it was easy for me to get to know everyone pretty well and to have in-depth conversations with people in every department.

Looking back I wish I'd put a little more effort into exploring the India projects than I did, but other than that, it was a really good and useful experience for me.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I began working with the Foundation for Sustainable Development in May after learning about their unique approach to development. Having spent years working in the field of development it is refreshing to find an organization that stays true to its mission and really works with communities.

I have been able to travel to Nicaragua with FSD and I have seen the high impact programs in the field and I can honestly say that FSD is truly helping communities facilitate change from within. I would highly recommend FSD to any friends, family, or colleagues.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard about FSD from my fellow students when I started my MA program in SF and, after doing some research, I knew I wanted to get involved in the organization’s work.

FSD has been among the pioneers of people-centered development approach, and, after interning with the organization for only one semester, I was really able to see how this approach translates in everything FSD does, from planning programs to making funding decisions. FSD SF staff heavily relies on the perspectives and needs of their community partners who work together with FSD site teams to identify meaningful and lasting solutions that work. The organization has networks and relationships in place that allow them to identify effective projects and ensure that their grant funds benefit those who understand the challenges and can implement solutions.

FSD’s approach is aimed at mobilizing local resources and supporting local knowledge and leadership which encourages sustainable community development, creating a more just and sustainable future for people around the world, one community at a time.

3 Danielle86

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a wonderful experience as an FSD Intern through GESI in Updaipur, India 2011. The experience completely prepared me for the professional world that was to come - I continued doing community development work through college and have focused on civic engagement and community development work in my professional life after graduating. Because of the experience with FSD, I was prepared for both the theoretical framework and reality of this field.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a volunteer with FSD in 2007 at the Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua site and international program coordinator there from 2010-2011. Both experiences confirmed that FSD stands out among its peers by providing interns and volunteers with the best international development experience possible that combines practical skill development with cultural immersion.

As an intern in 2007 I had the opportunity to develop a gang prevention program at a local school in Ciudad Sandino. My host family was fantastic, and my Spanish improved immensely. On the weekends I enjoyed traveling around Nicaragua with other volunteers and local friends.

Returning to Nicaragua in 2010-2011 as program coordinator, I found that FSD supports its staff just as much as its interns. The local offices are well equipped to handle all important logistics for the volunteers so the volunteers can focus on developing their skills and positively impacting their host communities. All of my co-workers exhibited only the highest degree of professionalism and dedication to sustainable development.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During the Summer of 2011, I participated in the Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), a Group Engage partnership model between the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Northwestern University. GESI is a unique credit-bearing program that combines intensive asset-based community development coursework with 8-10 weeks of team-based fieldwork with one of FSD’s community partners in Bolivia, India, Nicaragua, and Uganda. As a FSD/GESI intern, I spent the summer at one of Udaipur’s oldest and largest NGOs, Seva Mandir. While Seva Mandir’s commitment to “democratic and participatory development” manifests in myriad program areas including education, women’s empowerment, youth development and social enterprise, I worked in Seva Mandir’s health department. Specifically, my GESI team of three worked alongside Seva Mandir’s Community Care Center (CCC), a HIV/AIDS clinic providing clinical and counseling support to local patients.

During my 10 weeks, I had the privilege of first, interviewing clinic patients to better understand their individual and collective barriers to access, regimented care, and stable health, and second, collaborating with Seva Mandir staff to develop and pilot test a small-scale two-part programmatic response consisting of a patient-driven pillbox/chart system and new education materials for clinicians. While parts of our project inevitably failed, my time with Seva Mandir taught me that equally important to the goals of development are the methods by which they are realized – that the process matters. Through the GESI program, the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Northwestern University opened my eyes to the value, intention and necessity of asset-based community development and ignited a life-long commitment to thoughtful international development work.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been interning at FSD headquarters in San Francisco for the past three months, and I really enjoyed it. By interning at FSD I had the opportunity to see how an organization works, how the projects are carried out and how to support and implement long-lasting and sustainable projects that the community-identified needs and wants. Also I could bring new ideas to FSD and develop myself as a professional and contribute to the organization development and, as a consequence, to all the projects that are being carried out by FSD. Great organization, great job, great people.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I served as an intern in a health post in Nancimi, Tola, Nicaragua, where I facilitated preventative health trainings on the most prominent health issues plaguing the community. While the community benefited from the trainings, I gained a great deal from the internship as well. Through writing a grant and implementing my project, I developed writing, communication, and public health skills applicable to my future career in medicine and global health. Furthermore, FSD ingrained the ideals of sustainability in a global setting in my head, for that I am grateful. I am also grateful for the people that I met. The other interns in Nancimi acted as a sounding board, therapists, and a source of inspiration, and the FSD coordinators challenged and motivated me throughout the nine weeks. I continue to keep in touch with both the other interns and the coordinators, as well as the community members in Nancimi. It makes me smile to realize that I always have a "home" with my FSD family back in Nicaragua. Although challenging at times, I 100% recommend a FSD internship to individuals who aspire to pursue an international, hands-on experience.

1 Keaton209

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with FSD has opened my eyes to approaching development in the world. Not only have I seen the tremendous support that FSD offers both domestically and internationally, but more specifically, the incredible attention to detail that FSD gives to its programs. Speaking from personal experience as a Marketing Intern, I know that FSD doesn't look for the quick fix, but rather devotes the appropriate amount of time to projects in order to make sure they are meeting all requirements. I am very excited about the current work with FSD and all future involvement that I plan on having with the organization!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent the summer of 2013 volunteering with FSD in Kakamega, Kenya. What drew me to FSD was its emphasis on sustainability instead of aid, which seemed like the most effective and realistic model for international development. A focus on assets rather than weaknesses is crucial in empowering a community and effecting long-term sustainable growth. Given my interest in health, I was paired with a rural health center, which allowed me to shadow the nurses and work on public health initiatives. Living with a host family was invaluable, as it helped me get in touch with the community. Overall, my experience taught me so much about international development, public health, and myself. I would highly recommend FSD to anyone looking for a thorough, supportive, and fulfilling internship in development work.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to facilitate two Global Service Trips with the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua and Kakamega, Kenya.

FSD's commitment to achieving community-driven goals through asset-based development and international exchange in Africa, Asia, and Latin America was seen throughout my experience at these program sites. As a facilitator, I saw a huge transformation in the participants, members of the community partner organizations we worked with, and the beneficiaries. The reciprocal process FSD aims to achieve was accomplished on both trips.

The main differentiator of FSD's programs is that their sites teams are on the ground, ensuring the outcomes of the support have a long-lasting benefit for the partner organizations (NGOs and nonprofits).

I highly recommend FSD for anyone who wants to be the change they want to see in the world and seeks an opportunity to provide sustainable impact on international communities!

1 Karen308

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been interning at FSD headquarters in San Francisco for the past two months. My experience at FSD has been very rewarding and has given me the opportunity to be an important part of an outstanding organization that engages in real international community development and effective capacity building. All FSD staff members, interns and volunteers embrace and embody the mission, vision and core values of the organization, especially the commitment to an asset-based approach to development that requires community ownership of all projects. Twenty years of experience have allowed FSD to develop a strong organizational structure with mechanisms in place to provide positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved, e.g. donors, program participants, partner organizations and community members. I would highly recommend FSD to anyone seeking a comprehensive, enriching and inspiring development experience.

kaylieerickson

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been an intern in FSD's San Francisco office over the past 3 months. FSD has been an amazing organization to be a part of, and I'm so glad to have had the chance to intern with them. Their mission to achieve "community-driven goals through asset-based development and international exchange" truly shines through every employee, intern and volunteer who comes in contact with this organization. I can honestly say that I stand behind the impactful work that FSD accomplishes through ongoing efforts with their community partners around the globe.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with FSD in Kakamega, Kenya in the summer of 2012, working at a local sub-district hospital. FSD's sustainable development model, which teaches that social and economic change must come from within the community to work and last, forces interns to truly immerse themselves into their organization and community in order to identify issues and potential solutions. Even two years later I am still in touch with my host family and some coworkers from the hospital. The site team was supportive and enthusiastic yet also provided interns with space and independence. Overall, it was a great experience and I would recommend others to get involved with FSD if they are looking for an international service experience.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past summer i had the opportunity to work at a sub-district hospital and live with a host family in the rural village of Shibwe, about 15km out of Kakamega. The experience was challenging but extremely enriching. FSD provides its interns with space and independence to pursue a project they feel passionate about, but is always there to provide support when needed. Over nine weeks I was able to form strong relationships at work and in my village, implement sustainable projects and learn important skills such as implementing a workplan and keeping a budget, learn to feel completely comfortable in my immensely new environment, and as a result of this all I grew tremendously as a person while making a difference (big or small) at Shibwe.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They call Cochabamba, Bolivia "The City of Eternal Spring." My choice to intern abroad with the Foundation for Sustainable Development in Cochabamba truly involved me in an eternal spring. My experience brought fresh ideas into bloom, grew global relationships and showed me the power that local communities hold.

Fresh ideas in bloom: FSD welcomed and immersed me into the Cochabamban community. I engaged in a new environment with support and guidance from FSD's Site Team. Program Director Mauricio gave sage wisdom, and with his help, I experienced not only public transportation adventures on some of the most brilliantly colored buses I've ever seen, but also the chance to ask strangers for directions in Spanish and challenge myself to rethink how I commute and communicate (and embrace getting lost in the meatpacking market along the way!).

Growing global relationships: My work as a Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) intern created connections with a global reach, and the relationship that truly defined my summer was the one I formed with my home-stay family. Countless stories and jokes were told over early morning and late night tea with my madre, padre and hermano boliviano, all of who shared their love of their city and their country with me.

Local community power: In Cochabamba, big things happen through small but strong efforts. My FSD intern project drew from within and grew from face-to-face interactions instead of the usual text or email. I learned to ask not what a community needs, but rather how we can build upon the assets that a community already has.

FSD is an incredible nonprofit that thrives because it honors its mission for community-driven and implemented change at every level of the organization. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at FSD's San Francisco headquarters. The office provided an incredible experience of grant reviews, marketing and staff discussions, and I feel so lucky to have an FSD story that spans two continents with one organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have interned in the San Francisco Office for FSD for the past 5 months, and it has been a beyond wonderful experience. I have learned so much about sustainable development, and what it means to act as a global citizen. Additionally, FSD gives its interns great responsibility and the opportunity to truly make an impact with the organization. The skills and capacity that I have built as an intern here have been invaluable. Beyond my experience with FSD, I can sincerely say that FSD itself stays true to it's mission, supporting and implementing long-lasting and sustainable projects that stem from community-identified needs and wants. I have seen first-hand how much all of the staff at FSD truly cares about the individuals and communities with which they work, which has been both refreshing and inspiring. I give FSD nothing but the highest ratings!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at their Cochabamba, Bolivia location for the summer. Obviously, there are certain challenges that just come with working/interning abroad, but the FSD cite team was especially supportive, while still gave me room to figure things out myself. Also, after talking with other volunteers/interns that were through different programs, I really think FSD's plan makes the whole experience more meaningful. Great people, great hearts. I recommend

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered/interned in Kakamega, Kenya during the summer of 2014. I had a wonderful experience, especially the way FSD organized everything related to my 2 months of stay in Kakamega. I was satisfied with the way they selected host family and host organization for many interns like me.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned in the San Francisco Office for the summer and had an amazing experience. As an intern, the experience was very positive -- full of educational guidance and hands-on experience. As an organization, FSD stays true to its mission and does everything it can to educate its participants about how to effectively and respectfully assist international communities in their development and growth. So many international aid organizations sound really good but actually end up harming the communities they work with. FSD on the other hand works against this and ensures that their involvement in community development stems from the desires and skills of the community itself. That way, when the FSD volunteers leave to return home, the community has not only improved, but their dignity and understanding that they can continue to develop themselves is intact.