The Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity Building Network is coming together to provide training, networking opportunities and funding for grassroots organizations across Puerto Rico.
The goal is to increase their capacity to meet crucial
community needs in areas such as housing, climate resilience, education and
health, especially as the island recovers from Hurricanes Irma and María.
Led by Enterprise Community Partners, NeighborWorks
America and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation, the Puerto Rico Nonprofit
Capacity Building Network will strengthen local nonprofits, which for decades
have done remarkable work despite challenges that include limited operating
funds, small staffs and sporadic training opportunities.
The network will develop an infrastructure to address obstacles
by improving coordination among nonprofits, government and business and by equipping
organizations with additional knowledge in areas such as advocacy,
collaboration, financial planning and leadership, organizers said.
“Enterprise recognizes the immense dedication of
Puerto Rico’s nonprofits — and the challenges they must regularly overcome —
based on our collaboration with them and with business and government on the
island over the past two decades,” said Laurel Blatchford, president,
Enterprise Community Partners.
“I’m proud that the Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity
Building Network will provide training and expertise that can significantly
increase nonprofits’ ability to advance affordable housing and other avenues to
opportunity for Puerto Ricans,” she said.
The network kicked off at a full-day event in San Juan,
entitled “Together, We’re Better: How Nonprofits are Helping Rebuild from
Hurricanes Irma and María.” Leaders from Enterprise, NeighborWorks and the
Community Foundation explained that it will focus on three areas:
- Identifying local needs, to address both what services
– in areas such as housing, health care and resilience — will help Puerto
Rico’s communities thrive and what training and resources will make local
nonprofits more effective in delivering those services.
- Improving coordination among local stakeholders, so
that nonprofits, government at all levels and businesses better understand
other groups’ capabilities, which will encourage partnerships between and
within sectors and improve services.
- Developing and implementing a detailed action plan, particularly
in collaboration with nonprofits throughout Puerto Rico, since capturing their
insights and experience will concentrate the network’s efforts on topics that
will bring the greatest benefits to island residents.
One of the network’s first initiatives will provide
nonprofits training on using federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster
Recovery funds to support recovery and rebuilding. This session will explain
CDBG-DR and create connections between organizations so they can learn from each
other, develop collaborations and prepare for future needs.
“NeighborWorks America looks forward to partnering
with Enterprise Community Partners and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation to
pave the way for increased collaboration that results in greater impact and
resources,” said Marietta Rodriguez, president of NeighborWorks America.
“We remain committed to supporting local nonprofits,
which have a deeper understanding of the needs of residents, to build their
capacity and support each other in ongoing recovery efforts,” she said.
Nonprofits were a central part of the response to the
emergencies created by Irma and María, even though they had to battle obstacles
such as limited or nonexistent electricity, water and communications, and their
staff members had their own losses and needs, the new organization noted.
María alone destroyed close to 70,000 homes in Puerto
Rico, and thousands of people have emigrated from the island after the storm.
Seniors, families and low-income households, who have
less access to resources to help them recover, have especially needed the
support of local nonprofits. Hurricane damage came on top of decades of
economic difficulties that limited the development of many key Puerto Rican
institutions, including nonprofits.
“Our communities had the support of nonprofit
organizations that provided help and resources to achieve immediate recovery,”
said Nelson I. Colón-Tarrats, president of the Puerto Rico Community
“We know that much of the sustainable renewal will
come from these community-based organizations. That is why we want to guide
them and help them to access the funds coming from the CDBG-DR and act in an
agile and efficient manner,” he said.