Members of the island’s banking sector continue building on expanding the concept of “participatory democracy” through community reinvestment initiatives that are the focus of its 9th annual Community Reinvestment Week event that wraps up Friday.
The prestigious Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit research institution devoted to trying to find ways to increase citizen participation in society, will join the Puerto Rico Bankers Association in its efforts, the trade group said Tuesday.
The week’s agenda includes open conferences scheduled to take place at different points of the island. Today, the group heads to Río Grande, where it will explore the topic of “From participatory cemocracy to social undertaking.” The Bankers Association/Kettering Foundation contingent will spread their resources to four tows Friday.
Arturo L. Carrión, executive vice president of the Bankers Association, said the participatory democracy concept enrolls members of a group or residents “to take a leading role to address and solve important problems, both socially and economically in their communities.”
“The discussion of participatory democracy at the local level is extremely important, as it poses a paradigm shift in the traditional philanthropy model to which we are accustomed,” said Carrión, noting that prior practices called for identifying a problem and posing a solution that was implemented through a specific project.
As it is presently done, the parties remain in constant dialogue with the community to promote sustainable efforts with short and long-term impact.
The Kettering Foundation’s involvement in this year’s event is significant as “the organization sees the opportunity in Puerto Rico to thoroughly investigate the civic and economic relationship banks have with communities when it comes to developing social reinvestment iniatives,” he said.
The Ohio-based institution’s participation would go beyond analyzing the impact of community reinvestment programs on a social level, but also how these contribute to create centers that generate production and business activity in communities, which in turn represents new opportunities for industries, as well as the development of the community’s members, Carrión said.
“It’s remarkable that in a competitive market, banking industry components don’t mind coming together and agree to sponsor and produce dialogue and action to promote economic development and the welfare of communities,” said Randall Nielsen, Kettering Foundation program officer. “It’s something we think is very positive.”
Friday’s conference cycle includes seminars on: strategic planning for nonprofits in Fajardo; economic solidarity and resilient communities in the 21st century, in Coamo; credit, insurance and planning for small and mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in Las Marías; and legal aspects of nonprofit organizations, proposals and budgeting in Utuado.