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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

113 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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD is an incredible organization based in the Bay Area that offers individuals and corporations opportunities to connect and work with its partner sites around the world. They do a great job at being transparent and are a leader in the field of quality sustainable development.

Karla Gina P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In the short time I have been interning with FSD, I have come to value the authenticity of this nonprofit. FSD stands true to its mission to work with local community partners to influence capacity building and ownership. The organization is intentional about selecting students and professionals alike to live, work, and learn with communities across the globe. Compared to other international internship and study abroad programs, FSD approaches the experience in a holistic way. The staff works closely with students, university partners, and FSD international site teams to ensure that students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge for their international development experience. Pre-departure training, onsite mid-service workshops, and post-program reflections guarantee a truly well-rounded service for student interns.
Thanks to the first-hand experience gained onsite (in Africa,Latin America, and Asia), many FSD alumni are influenced to pursue professional training and work in both community and international development.

I'm so pleased to work formally with a nonprofit that is so thoughtful and intentional about its approach to development. Thank you FSD for helping me gain the skills and experience of working in international exchange programming and merging it with my appreciation for international and community development!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an intern at FSD that had the opportunity to be a part of the grant administration program where I was able to gain invaluable skills about grant writing and review. The team is absolutely amazing and is very transparent in communication and supportive with each others work. I was given the opportunity to be involved in many aspects of contributing to the continued success of the organization and enjoyed every part of my experience. FSD does genuine good for the communities it serves all around the world and I am very proud to have had the chance to be a part of it.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Programs Intern with FSD and my experience has been great. During my time with the organization, I have greatly learned about their method of International Development; Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). It is a form of development which is community inclusive and attempts to use indigenous resources to solve local problems. In addition, the communication channels within FSD is very comprehensive and accessible as they strive to create a conducive atmosphere for their International Volunteers/Interns and their host family. Overall the Foundation for Sustainable Development is a great organization and highly recommend it to future volunteers looking to go abroad.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Foundation for Sustainable Development is a passionate organization that puts the needs of its beneficiaries first. Utilizing a revolutionary sustainable approach to development, FSD implements ground-up initiatives that are most importantly guided by the voice of the individuals who possess the local knowledge to know which solutions work best. While a localized and close knit organization themselves, FSD's outreach has successfully extended around the globe; across various states, countries, languages, and cultures. It has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside the passionate individuals of FSD that tirelessly endeavor to instill a true change in this world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This program is unlike anything I could have ever expected and I can't say how happy I am to have done it. It's had ups and downs and a lot of middle as well, but I wouldn't change any of those moments. Being thrown out of my comfort zone and creating a much wider, new comfort zone has been the best aspect of my experience. It's such a different lifestyle, but it's one at this point I would say I am comfortable with and enjoying greatly.

I have had more happy moments and moments where I am thinking about a ridiculous amount of things all at once here than I have before. I've joined a group of students with a different university mindset and seen how the way I think is different than the way their formal education has taught them to think. I have also been in the most culturally-diverse group I have ever spent this much time with, as a white-midwestern American. I've learned a lot in both active and passive ways.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just love the organization and core values of FSD. This experience has greatly changed me, and it would not have been possible without the support and connections and knowledge I have received fro FSD. All I can say is that I wish I was in Kenya longer, I honestly could spend at least another 2 months here without wanting to return to America. I think the site team, host family, and single intern paired with a host organization made this internship very unique and more integrative (which I really appreciate!).

Volunteer

Rating: 4

FSD gave me an amazing opportunity to learn more about international development, gain hands-on experience helping other people to improve their lives, and build the fundamental skills necessary to pursue a lifelong career in this field. I fully believe in the Asset-Based Community Development approach utilized by FSD as it promotes empowering people to improve their own lives with the resources available to them rather than prescribing the unsustainable "charitable handout" approach employed by so many other organizations. This FSD model is indeed a stepping stone to truly sustainable development.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned in the San Francisco office of FSD; it was an incredible experience through which I learned about the world of international development and sustainable practices, made a lot of new friends, and deepened my understanding about the grant review process. I would highly recommend doing anything through FSD; the Foundation is intentional in all it does and the funding it gives and will provide a well-rounded and fulfilling experience!

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.

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.