Oct. 27, 2016 12:51 pm

This Philly nonprofit is pursuing new partners in the Caribbean

When she couldn't get a grant to continue working in one Dominican town, Schools for Sustainability founder Alyssa Ramos-Reynoso found opportunities elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Expanding education opportunities in DR.

(Photo by Flickr user Dining for Women, used under a Creative Commons license)

Remember Schools for Sustainability (S4S), the young, bootstrapped nonprofit working to build a sustainability-centric school in Monte Plata, one of the poorest provinces in the Dominican Republic?

After collaborating with another organization called 33 Buckets earlier this year to build a water purification system in Monte Plata, cofounder Alyssa Ramos-Reynoso said things kind of came to a halt when the nonprofit couldn’t land a grant to continue its work in town.

But “rejection can be a blessing,” Ramos-Reynoso said. S4S was approached by two other organizations in the Caribbean — Heart in Haiti and Mariposa DR Foundation — that are interested in partnering to expand its education services outside of Monte Plata.

So, while S4S won’t be able to build the school it originally set out to build by landing a grant (“construction isn’t sexy,” said Ramos-Reynoso), it’ll be able to make money by expanding the contracted education services it’s been offering.

“Our mission is still the same,” said Ramos-Reynoso. “We’re empowering communities through a sustainable education. The difference is instead of focusing on one location, we realized there’s a need in other communities.”

And while there’s still a need in Monte Plata, S4S’s work there is at a stalemate. Expanding before the work is done is a “tough choice,” she said.

“The reality is, fundraising is very challenging,” she said. “This shows our model works. It’s kind of like taking a step back to move forward.


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