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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.

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.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

My latest experience with the Foundation for Sustainable Development has been in co-leading a 7 person Giving Circle in Chicago. Our group raised over $4,000 and funded 4 separate sustainable, grassroots projects in Uganda, Kenya, and India. The topics we funded involved organic farming education and methods, a beekeeping enterprise, an enterprise creating food warmers for meals, and an educational skit for domestic violence awareness.

FSD and the Giving Circle specifically gives me an opportunity to stay connected with the international development community even while I am stateside and not in the field. It also gives me an avenue to connect others around me in my community to international development work, in a highly active engagement role beyond simply cutting a check. It allows me to come together with friends and colleagues to really debate the effect of our grants on organizations and communities, and while it is not the only tool for development work, we think deeply through how we can make it an effective one with the help of FSD.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with a microfinance institution in Kakamega, Kenya through FSD for several months back in 2009. It was a tremendously rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally. FSD takes its commitment to grassroots international development very seriously, and makes an effort to train its volunteers on actual frameworks and tools for development work (e.g., Northwestern's ABCD framework). They have dedicated site teams run by true locals of their respective communities, which helps create buy-in and effect real change. Their partnership model ensures that FSD's volunteers are getting plugged into and are supporting existing, sustainable organizations, as opposed to adding to the proliferation of nonprofits in a given region. FSD's post-trip support and network for its alumni is very strong, too, offering numerous opportunities to stay connected to international development work even after returning from the field.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started out as an FSD intern in Mombasa, Kenya and could not have had a better experience. I chose FSD after many months of research on just about every international volunteer organization. FSD stood out to me because of its focus on long-term sustainable support to local community organizations, as well as its training in project design, grant-writing, and other community development tools. I felt it would give me the most bang for my buck. After my internship, I always wanted to go back to Kenya and later I finally returned as an FSD Program Coordinator in Kakamega. After working as Coordinator, I couldn't get enough of FSD and pursued a staff position in their headquarters to continue to support FSD's network of community partners, international interns, and an amazing group of field staff.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with FSD last summer in San Francisco. As a member of the behind-the-scenes aspect I will just say that FSD is a incredibly compassionate non-profit who cares about creating a sustainable and respectful relationship with communities on the ground. I loved working with everyone in the office. The integration of the student volunteers over seas is a key aspect to FSD's model, and one that is both educational and effective. I would love to go abroad as an FSD volunteer. Thanks for all that you do FSD!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I served in Kakamega, Kenya for 6 months (September 2011-March 2012) with FSD. I chose FSD because the organization emphasized grassroots development and it had host organizations that focused on human rights including advocacy for persons with disabilities; which is what I'm passionate about. I had the opportunity to work with Empowerment of Disabled Development Organization (EDDO) and be involved with the locals in advocating for human rights. My invaluable experience with FSD and my host organization, EDDO truly inspired me to go to graduate school for International Development. The inspiration came from the seeing the change happening within the community I served; genuine change that would continue to grow over time. The idea of being a part of changing a community using resources available and self -sustainability was amazing.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For six weeks in February and March 2012 my husband and I volunteered with FSD in India. After our brief orientation in Jodhpur we went to the village of Chandelao, where I worked as a teacher of English in the private school, while he worked on building a website for the village fort/heritage hotel and the women's craft center. We were warmly welcomed, and our stay was really fun and rewarding. The FSD staff were supportive and helpful throughout. We feel lucky to have made good friends among the warm and colorful people of Rajasthan.
We are now about to embark on a new adventure with FSD to Salta, Argentina. We are grateful to FSD for their help with planning and preparing for our trips, finding us good accommodation and meaningful assignments, and ensuring that our experiences as retired volunteers live up to expectations.

1 Sandy56

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In January 2012, my wife and I spent 6 weeks with the FSD Procorps in Jodhpur India. We are retired professionals and FSD encouraged us to volunteer our time and experience. We could not be happier with our experience. We worked with a small NGO in a village of 1800 residents about 25 miles from the city of Jodhpur. Our experience was personally fulfilling and we participated in worthwhile projects that will have lasting benefit to the community. The local FSD staff were professional and helpful.

We are so satisfied with our FSD experience that we are volunteering with them again: this time for 6 weeks in Salta, Argentina.

1 fsdjquintana

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During the summer of 2011, I had the wonderful opportunity in traveling to Tola, Nicaragua. Juma Ventures, a non-profit organization for high school and college students that I have been a part of since 2007, partners with the FSD. This partnership allowed students, such as myself to be a part of something much larger then I, as well as many of my friends in the program could have ever dreamed. My experience in Tola showed me the beauty in simplicity and in living.

Now, in 2013, I was given the liberty to work with the FSD at a whole new capacity. I was taken on as the Programs Department Intern in San Francisco. My time here has shown me that I am making a difference, directly and indirectly. My time spent in Nicaragua is proof of that fact.

Here is where I am contributing to something much larger then I could have ever dreamed.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I worked with FSD last summer for ten weeks in Bolivia in the field of economic development. Overall, my experience was great and I would recommend the organization to other people. Before I left, the San Francisco based staff was amazing in communicating with me about my concerns going abroad. Once I arrived, the local staff was responsive, encouraging, and helped me a lot when I got sick.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled to Uganda and volunteered with a local NGO through FSD. I was with a group of 13 other students as a part of a sustainable development study abroad project. The entire FSD team in Uganda was incredibly helpful and my host family was accommodating at all times. The team made our experience truly hands on and exposed us the daily work that the Uganda people engaged in and we worked on projects that were making a real impact in the community. I was sick for a short time when I was in Uganda and my host family was incredibly nice and caring during my stay. Overall it was a wonderful experience that broadened my horizons and cultivated my interests in global sustainable development.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was fortunate to spend this past summer in Kakamega, Kenya with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. From the beginning, they provided a lot of support, information about the program, and advice. The staff spent a lot of time ensuring that your strengths could be optimized in the community by placing you in organizations that best satisfy your interests. They had very clear expectations and a lot of experience, and I had a great experience with this NGO.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with FSD while doing my MA degree and to this day the memories and all that I learn is alive and well. It is home to some of the kindest, most professional and humane people in the field that I had the pleasure to meet. Its development notions are clear, smart, applicable and truly sustainable and you get a lot from your experience there. I was allowed to explore and learn as I wished, had contact with development champions abroad, new and smart types of fundraising, was taught database management with all the patience in the world (and then some), all coming together to a personal and professional experience I will never forget. I am sure you are one of the best Sustainable Development NGOs in the West Coast and you are a Top-Rated Nonprofit on my book!! Thank you and good luck with everything! Guilherme

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past summer I participated in FSD's intern abroad program in Bolivia. During my 10-week stay I worked at an organization that promotes women's empowerment and community development in rural areas of Cochabamba. The combination of living in Bolivia, my host family and organization and the FSD site team gave me a greater perspective on the work involved in development, something that is not comparable to learning from a book in a classroom. The fact that I have now tangible experience in this realm has not only provided me direction into my future career in International Development, but it has also made critical issues ever more real to me. The profound impact of this experience in my life has made me a more understanding and culturally sensitive person. This internship married my passion for sustainable development with social justice and gave me a tangible opportunity to see how an outside can promote development outside of the United States, something I am extremely grateful for.