The FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund (Fondo ADELANTE Puerto Rico) was developed prior to the devastation of the island by Hurricanes Irma and Maria as a mechanism to ensure the resilience of Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable groups in the face of its decade-long economic recession and huge public debt of $73 Billion. The Fund was designed by the Puerto Rico Funders Network (La Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico) as a long-term strategy to facilitate local/national/international philanthropic partnerships to help Puerto Rico move out of its dire situation. Following Hurricane Maria, the Fund provided emergency funds to vetted, high impact local grassroots organizations that were offering immediate assistance to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Now, the Fund is pursuing long-term strategic priorities to help move Puerto Rico forward.
Following the hurricanes, a rapid grant applications process was instituted. Grantee applications were reviewed by a committee composed of representatives of the collaborative’s donors. 24 local nonprofit organizations, longstanding grantees of the members of the Red de Fundaciones with proven track records, received a total of $982,000. They responded to the immediate needs of their communities following Hurricane Maria, while undertaking their own organizational recovery process. Grant monitoring has included site visits, reports, interviews and an independent evaluation. In addition, we have achieved substantial media coverage for the work of our grantees. Reports on the work of grantees and media coverage have been uploaded to the Red de Fundaciones webpage and are included as an attachment to this report.
The Fund is a vehicle for creating new partnerships with local foundations including Fundación Carvajal, and international foundations including Comic Relief, JPB, Windpoint, Robert Wood Johnson, Knight, and Global Giving. A three-foundation partnership announced by Ford, Open Society and Rockefeller Foundations chose the Puerto Rico Funders Network (La Red ) as their local philanthropic partner in a long-term initiative designed to promote Puerto Rico’s recovery and transformation.
La Red has continued to meet with philanthropic leaders from other locations that have faced similar natural and economic disasters, such as New Orleans, Flint, and Detroit. In February, La Red organized a very successful visit of 30 representatives from 15 local and national to learn about the needs of the island's population and nonprofit sector, see first- hand some of the work supported by the Fund, and strengthen the collaborative network. Their experiences confirm that Puerto Rico's recovery, rebuilding and transformation will require long term investments. Thus, the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund will continue to operate for many years to come. The Fund has grown to nearly $6M in commitments from over 20 local, national and international foundations and over 700 individuals. La Red will continue to attract new philanthropic partners who together, will help examine and address the evolving needs of the island and support transformative efforts to achieve a prosperous and equitable society.
Now, nine months after the hurricane, the post-disaster emergency phase is winding down. La Red and its partners are supporting recovery, rebuilding and transformation efforts through a new set of strategic priorities:
- Tracking and advising resource distribution. Promote social justice, transparency and accountability in the distribution of public resources (federal, state) with particular emphasis during 2018, on the recovery funds provided by the federal government (e.g., Federal Emergency Management Act, Community Development Block Grants).
- Data collection and analysis for decision-making. Facilitate data analysis, and informed public dialogue and debate on the actual and potential impacts of new policies, particularly for vulnerable populations.
- Strengthening nonprofits. Advance the resilience and sustainability of the non-profit sector by enhancing leadership, building fiscal and programmatic health, augmenting collective influence and voice, and enabling collaborations among nonprofit organizations.
The FORWARD/ ADELANTE Puerto Rico Fund will continue to operate at least over the next 5 years. We plan to expeditiously award grants to advance the Fund’s priorities. We will also continue efforts to bring in new partners for the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund. We expect to distribute and leverage over $25 Million by 2023.
La Red de Fundaciones will also continue educating the philanthropic community and policymakers about Puerto Rico's progress and challenges, serving as a convener for funders seeking to have strategic conversations and to leverage their investments. La Red’s will continue to commission and share reports, articles, and evaluations; and organizing meetings. webinars and site visits.
How can I donate to the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund?
To donate to the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund click here.