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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Project Esperanza

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services, Human Services, International, International Migration & Refugee Issues, Residential Care & Adult Day Programs

Mission: The mission of Project Esperanza is to create positive change in the city of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and in the New River Valley of Virginia. We do this by uniting the two communities in mutual support while providing innovative educational and social efforts in both. In the Dominican Republic we work with the Haitian refugee population through providing a home for boys and supporting several grassroot schools. In the U.S. we run an after-school program and engage our community in social awareness and involvement.

Results: Since 2007 we have maintained two grassroots schools as well as a group home and school for kids from the streets. This past year (2012) we have worked hard to improve our international volunteer program and small business endeavors in order to create sustainability for our schools and group home over the long run.

Target demographics: Haitian immigrant youth and adults in the Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic area.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 700

Geographic areas served: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Programs: Home and School for Haitian street kids living and working in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic 2 Grassroots Schools which educate Haitian immigrant children who face many difficulties attending school otherwise. International Volunteer program which leads hundreds of expats to serve in the area and receive great insight into the societal problems and successful solutions. Small business endeavors that employ locals who were without work otherwise and raise to support our other service programs.

Community Stories

69 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A great organization that's incredibly integrated with the community it serves! Caitlin is warm and intelligent, and clearly dedicated to her work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is quite an impressive organization. For being small they do great work with very positive outcomes. They now have 2 schools going for Haitian children, and help the adults with micro-businesses to support their families. The director, Caitlin, is extremely talented and devoted.

Donor

Rating: 5

We took our family to Esperanza for a week. It was life changing. We are a family of 7. Our children are 24, 22, 19, 13, 11. We lived in the house all in one big bedroom, ate at the house, walked around the neighborhood and played soccer with the kids. During the day we worked with the children for half the day and then painted the school the second half of the day. Esperanza was a great host. They were warm, kind, and helped us participate in the community. We all came away changed. Strongly endorse participating with Esperanza.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently volunteered with Project Esperanza with 10 other college students and every one of us had a great time serving and getting to know the DR and Hatian community. It was a huge perspective changer for myself and I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world. The staff of Project Esperanza are doing great things over there. I would highly recommend this organization if you want to step out of your comfort zone and experience this great adventure of serving others and volunteering alongside these amazing people!

Melissa278

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The experience i had in Project Esperanza will forever stay with me! Meeting the most amazing, charismatic, inspirational people. The way it opened many of my Group's eyes from the University of Central Florida to help our community and to work as a team to achieve a bigger goal. The way we met different individuals and shared their life stories and what had happen to them was very touching! If everyone had a chance to be apart of an organization like this it would change your life perspective completely. It is very clear that Caitlin is very special and she put many stuff asside to help these children and families in Muñoz! Thank you again Caitlin for a unforgettable experience with Project Esperanza 2015.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an incredible experience volunteering with Project Esperanza! I met so many amazing people. The communities that we helped were so welcoming and kind. I highly recommend and support this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My week volunteering with Project Esperanza was one of the best weeks that I have had. I made memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. I learned so much about the country and the locals. Caitlin made sure that the volunteers had everything that we needed and was there to help if we needed it. She truly cares about the community. Project Esperanza is making a difference in the community. I would volunteer with Project Esperanza again in a heartbeat.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Project Esperanza this past summer and loved every moment. It is clear that Caitlin is passionate about what the organization aims to do and will stop at nothing to ensure that the community is working along side with the organization. Additionally, I found the orientation fascinating and explained a lot more about why the organization exists. Project Esperanza is doing big things one step at a time, but this is how change should happen.

Irina P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It would be an understatement to say that Project Esperanza changed my life. My team from volunteer UCF were able to become part of the community in Puerto Plata. We were welcomed, housed, fed delicious Spanish-creole home cooking and became part of the community. We gained the kind of insight of the local problems and issues and contributed our time and good will to help both the students in need and their families. This is not about just being a charity case this is about speaking and actively engaging in the community. Project Esperanza helps others develop and grow, receive an education and provide a better future for other generations. I can't think of a more wholesome or sustainable humanitarian mission.

Sydney S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During my week with Project Esperanza I met so many wonderful and passionate human beings. I learned a lot about international volunteering and the needs of a foreign community and just how much college students can contribute. My team was welcomed, housed, fed and to be honest became family with the people of Project Esperanza and I can't wait to return one day!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an incredible time volunteering with Project Esperanza! Caitlin has an amazing bond with the community and she genuinely cares for the people of the Dominican Republic, native and Haitians alike. The volunteer house and community never made me feel unsafe and were in fact very welcoming and kind. The kids where amazing! We had so much fun playing and teaching physical education and nutrition at school and camp. If you aren't sure what you could do there, Caitlin had a number of jobs lined up as suggestions. I would highly recommend Project Esperanza to anyone who has a desire to serve.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a great experience volunteering with Project Esperanza in July 2014. I was very impressed by PE's (and Caitlin's) involvement in the community. They very much work "within" the community vs. working "at" the community. There is an obvious respect for the organization, both from the local Haitians and the Dominicans. Caitlin is working on several grassroots projects that will help locals build a sustainable income.

I would encourage anyone with a desire to volunteer to consider Project Esperanza. If you aren't sure what you can do to help, Caitlin has a number of jobs already lined up where you can fill in quickly. If you have new ideas for projects that haven't been done yet, Caitlin is willing to consider those as well.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was a privilege to volunteer and have the opportunity to meet Caitlin and her amazing team. Project Esperanza is beyond impactful in the community they serve, despite working with little. I was very encouraged to see PE's efforts in working toward sustainability through multiple grass-roots projects, as donor funding can be volatile, both short and long term. Caitlin and staff are amazingly hard working, excellent stewards of resources, and they have an insightful long-term vision despite how overwhelming day to day operations can be. I can't wait to volunteer again in coming months and continually as needed, and if you haven't worked with them yet, you should!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a teenager, and so it was a bit of a risk for me to travel to a different country for 6 weeks and volunteer. I am happy to report that it was an amazing experience, and I would happily return for a second trip.
Caitlin does a really very impressive job managing her organization with relatively few resources, and everything that she does seems to come from the bottom of her heart.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an opportunity to volunteer with Project Esperanza during my Spring Break 2014. I had a great time getting to know the locals and get to know what life is like in the bateys of Munoz. I felt like I could really connect with the people since I was living so close to them. Hearing their stories and seeing what their life was like strongly impacted me. I can see how this organization can benefit the community and imrove the lives of those who live in it.

I definitely feel like I made connections in the community that will last. I plan to return to the organization in the coming years to continue supporting the area and the people of Munoz and Padre Granero.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to visit DR this past spring 04/2014 while I was looking for a charity to volunteer. I came across Project Esperanza and was very impressed with Caitlin's work. I reached out to her and shared my interest to volunteer at the school. Since the first time we connected, she was very supportive and open to answer all of my inquires. I decided to volunteer for a few days while in the DR; it was a life changing experience, I enjoyed my time with the children of Project Esperanza. I admired Caitlin for everything she does for children and youth in need is truly admirable. Since then, I have been sharing information about this nonprofit with my friends and I've been supporting the program by donations when needed. Whenever I go, I am always sharing details, pictures or any relevant information about this great organization. I am truly blessed I found Caitlin's project and look forward to continue supporting the children of Project Esperanza.

1 Holly59

Donor

Rating: 5

I am so impressed with this organization. I have donated for several years. The emphasis on giving disadvantaged children life skills to succeed is really important. Project Esperanza has inspired me as an educator to join my school's global education trip this summer to the Dominican Republic. My students will be working with the children, but I know they will probably learn just as many meaningful lessons. I cannot wait for July 2015!!! ¡Nos vemos pronto! See you soon!

CharleneinVermont

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to join my daughter at Project Esperanza in July. It was an experience I will soon not forget. The children are excited to learn and in a few weeks you could see the difference we were making with them in behavior and English lessons. They are children who also need our help with basic things like clean water to drink and maybe 2 to 3 meals a day to start. One of the meals for breakfast that was provided with funds raised for their summer camp was simply spaghetti with ketchup. The children loved it and appreciated that meal so much! What I am trying get at is, any small thing you can do to help is a GREAT help.
If you want an experience of a life time...come join us! Bring a friend! You can make a difference in these children's lives.

Rob_38

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am a pastor of a church in North Carolina. We sent a team of volunteers in August of 2014 to work with Project Esperanza in Peurta Plata. I asked two of the volunteers to evaluate Project Esperanza because I am considering future partnership with that work in the Dominican.

Both team members from our church gave Project Esperanza a glowing review. Both said we should go back and in the future should continue working with PE. One of the guys was so moved, I know he will continue with PE in the future whether our church does or not. But I think we will. The positive experiences these guys had touched me deeply.

I hope in the summer of 2015 to send a much larger team. I want us to invest in the good work PE is doing. I love director Caitlin McHale's Christlike heart. I believe this organization is doing God's work and I am excited that our church can be a part of it.

Richard103

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I am Chair of the Haiti Committee at my church in Blacksburg, VA, and we sponsor Haitian students (primary school) in Pignon and several seminarians, one studying in the D.R. When I visited him last year, I also visited Project Esperanza with him to see first-hand the work being done for street kids in Puerto Plata. I know what it's like to run programs on little money, and how much volunteerism is needed to make up the shortfall for employees needed but not available to run a first-class, funded operation. I was very impressed with the dedication of Caitlin and her staff, running schools out of passion and not profit. Like so many non-profits competing for donors to be sustainable, keeping the interest and commitment of donors is difficult, especially as they age and divert attention to other projects or have unexpected financial constraints. Third-world assistance relies on first-world charity, so I hope that current sponsors remain committed to this worthwhile project, and that other sponsors are located by word-of-mouth. Caitlin and crew have the dedication to make a difference in the lives of these kids; all she needs is the financial support to make it happen. That's where we come in.