Annual Report 2016

We connect our Peace Corps community to promote appreciation of and service to the people of the Dominican Republic

2016 Annual Report

 

Overview

Friends of the Dominican Republic (FDR) is a non-profit corporation created to continue supporting Peace Corps’ work in the Dominican Republic. We summarize our work quite simply: 


We are a “cyber-based” membership organization of former and current Dominican Republic Peace Corps Volunteers, staff, and supporters. Our members:

  • Raise funds to support the work of current Volunteers in the Dominican Republic, 
  • Advance the Third Goal of Peace Corps by sharing our knowledge of the Dominican Republic with other Americans, and
  • Foster “connectedness” by growing our membership network to provide news and information about Peace Corps DR and encourage participation in and support for our work.


For 2016 we continued working on our strategic goals:

Goal 1: Focus on Organizational Sustainability

Goal 2:  Strengthen Core Programs

Goal 3: Increase Membership/Supporter Involvement 


FDR’s Significant Accomplishments in 2016

  • We approved a record 17 Community Challenge Fund grants that will benefit more than 1,089 Dominican households with new libraries, sanitary latrines, sports courts, fuel efficient stoves, cement floors, a learning center and two economic development projects. 
  • We supported Brigada Verde, PC-Dominican Republic’s environmental program, by providing 100 copies of the Brigada Verde manual to new Volunteers through our Program Support Fund. 
  • We helped coordinate a Brigada Verde conference at the National Environmental School in Jarabacoa attended by 26 Dominican youth and 33 American students from California, sponsored by Education First, where DR-RPCV Ekow Edzie, works and was the primary driver behind the conference.  
  • We established a partnership with SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT to offer a $2,000 scholarship to an FDR member enrollee each year and waive the $50 application fee for all FDR member applicants. DR-RPCV, Joan Perreault, Senior Admission’s Officer and Marketing Specialist with SIT helped arrange the partnership. 
  • We elected two new board members, Susan Stine (DR 2013-2015), and Jeremy O’Brien (DR 1998-2000), representing more recent DR-RPCVs; and, we started a Growth Committee to look into FDR’s relationship with our members and our future. 
  • We opened the Friends of the Dominican Republic section of American University’s Peace Corps Community Archives with the first two donations of materials by DR-RPCVs; 
  • We continued a University Scholarship Pilot Program in cooperation with a sports group from Virginia Tech for two Dominican youth and created an Exploratory Committee to investigate the potential establishment of a larger scholarship program. 
  • We attended the NPCA Peace Corps Connect in Washington, DC and connected with more than 15 DR-RPCVs to talk about FDR’s activities, thanks to the efforts of Susan Stine;
  • We published 5 issues of our on-line newsletter, La Voz,;
  • We maintained our website and DR-RPCV database and our Facebook and LinkedIn pages for our members to use. 
  • We donated $500 to Alana DeJoseph’s Peace Corps documentary – A  TOWERING TASK – and provided a significant amount of background material to Alana concerning the history of Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic prior to her visit to the island in April 2016 to film a segment for the documentary. 

2016 COMMITTEE REPORTS

Community Challenge Fund 

2016 was a banner year for the Community Challenge Fund (CCF). The committee approved a record 16 projects, exceeding the previous year’s record by 2 projects. During the year, we pushed through a major milestone of 100 projects approved since inception. Funds approved for projects during the year also reached a new high ($49,342), representing a 20% increase above the previous annual record. Importantly, the quality and variety of projects supporting DR Peace Corps Volunteers increased as we expanded the number of economic development projects and funded our first Courts for Kids project.  Just short of $30,000 in donations to the CCF were received during the year to support these activities.  

The program continued to support partnerships at the local level between community leadership and Peace Corps Volunteers, working together to plan, organize and implement high impact community infrastructure projects. One of the clear outcomes of the assistance FDR provides is the opportunity it provides for both the PCV and the Dominican community leadership to learn to be successful in planning and implementing community projects. In the process, PCVs conducted training and held workshops on community health and hygiene as well as community development techniques. The Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCCP) continues to be a key partner, providing the conduit for transferring funds raised for projects by the Community Challenge Fund to Peace Corps Volunteers working in communities. 

2016 Projects - The 16 projects which were funded in 2016 exceeded previous annual records since the CCF was created over the 12 years ago. A total of 1,089 households benefitted from 2016 year projects, the third highest annual total.   

A wide variety of projects were funded in 2016: 

  • 2 economic development projects were started including an eco-tourism project and a Woman’s Coconut Oil Cooperative
  • 2 communities constructed improved, efficient cooking stoves in 50 homes
  • 3 libraries or learning centers were constructed, supporting literacy and education programs
  • 105 sanitary latrines were constructed in 7 communities, including one in a local school
  • A community home improvement program constructed 20 cement floors in homes
  • One project providing potable water to a community benefitted 908 people.  
  • A Court for Kids project benefitted 65 households   


2016 Fundraising – Our efforts to expand outreach through social media continued with strong positive feedback as more donors learned of the efforts of FDR and its programs. We essentially met our 2016 fund-raising goal with contributions reaching $29,894 – a scant $106 short of the goal. A total of 164 donations were made from 131 different donors. We anticipated a fall-off in donations from 2015 when over $36,000 was received from 145 donors. We attribute the 2016 reductions to the end of the $10,000 matching incentive fund provided by Joe Epler to encourage new or increased contributions in 2014/2015. Overall, we are maintaining a fund-raising level comparable to historical contributions over the past 5 years. 


Included within the 2016 contributions was $686 donated by 11 donors to support community water projects through the Robert Kulstad Memorial Fund. The funds were used to provide funding to a community water supply project in the DR southwest. 


2017 Projections & Activities – In 2017, we hope to be able to fund 15 projects and we continue to maintain a goal of raising at least $30,000 during the year. Our capitalized sustaining fund remains at a healthy balance and will be sufficient to fill any gap between funds raised and project allocations – as was done in 2016 when project needs exceeded donations for the year.


Historical Perspective – Since the first project was approved in 2004, we have awarded $248,145 (up from $198,803 in 2015) to 109 projects (up from 92 in 2015). The following projects have been approved to date:

  • 36 Latrine projects, including latrines for 501 households and 4 schools
  • 30 Community Drinking Water, Aqueduct or Well-drilling projects, including benefit to 4 schools
  • 12 energy efficient/healthy cooking stove projects for 489 households
  • 11 Library/Youth Education Facilities                
  • 10 Sanitary Cement Floor projects for 208 families
  • 4 School Expansions
  • 3 economic development projects, including a Greenhouse, Women’s Coconut Oil Production Facility and an Eco-Tourism project
  • 1 Community Health Clinic
  • 1 Community Electrification project
  • 1 Community Water Catchment System


More than $600,000 in other funds has been leveraged by Community Challenge Fund grants.  A total of 31,277, persons in 7,266 households have benefitted from assistance since the Challenge Fund   provided funding to its first project in 2004. 

 

The Dominican Committee and Program Support Fund 

The Dominican Committee’s efforts to support Peace Corps’  Brigada Verde youth environmental awareness program advanced with the decision of Education First, a private international education company, to collaborate with the Dominican Republic’s National Environmental School to organize a three-day environmental conference at the school’s campus in Jarabacoa.

The conference, conceived by recent RPCV Ekow Edzie, a member of the Dominican Committee and employee of Education First, brought together four local Brigada Verde youth groups, along with their Dominican and PCV leaders, with 33 middle school students and several teachers from a private school in Southern California. The students and the Brigada Verde members  spent time together developing proposed environmental initiatives for their home communities in both countries.

The costs of running the initial conference were covered by Education First and no expenditures by FDR were required.  However, the Program Support Fund may consider supporting future joint environmental conferences at the National Environmental School.

In November, the Dominican Committee approved a grant of $377.23 from the Program Support Fund to print another 100 copies of the Volunteer-written Brigada Verde training manual that is used by PCVs to organize Brigada Verde courses for youths in their communities. The manuals are distributed to new PCVs during initial training to enable them to give the Brigada Verde courses that are the core of the program. Currently about 15 local Brigada Verde groups are active in communities around the country.

During the year members of the Dominican Committee worked to develop a practical proposal for the establishment by FDR of a University Scholarship Program for selected youth leaders who had proven their dedication, ability and leadership working on the various youth programs organized by PCVs.

Part of this effort drew on experience gained by the Dominican Committee and FDR Treasurer John Evans to successfully administer an informal scholarship program initiated and funded by staff and students from Virginia Tech. As a result of this effort, two Dominican youth pursued their university studies during 2016, one has since graduated as a licensed medical laboratory technician. The other is halfway through his studies as an education major with a minor in social science.

Using a proposal developed by PCVs several years ago, the Dominican Committee presented a revised proposal to the FDR Board late in 2016. In November the Board approved formation of an exploratory committee to develop a detailed plan, including a fundraising component, for final consideration by the board. However, at this point a group of Fondo Quisqueya (FQ) board members informed the Dominican Committee they had taken up the idea of a similar university scholarship proposal. After some discussion to determine the nature of the FQ proposal and its likelihood of approval by the FQ board, the chairman of the Dominican Committee recommended deferral of action on FDR’s scholarship proposal pending implementation of a similar program by FQ. The FDR board approved the committee’s recommendation and since then FQ has implemented a scholarship program incorporating significant elements of the original proposal from PCVs as refined by the Dominican Committee.

 

The Treasurer’s Report

This report covers net assets, both cash and investments as of 12/31/16.  We ended the year with $24,423.77 in our checking account, owing mainly to the $26,821.21 we received in year-end donations, primarily for the Community Challenge Fund (CCF).  Our combined assets total $373,565.05.  The amount of unrestricted cash available in the General Fund is $12,205.78 thanks to carry over from 2015, $1,582.50 in dues payments and $2,127.01 in donations made directly to the General Fund.  The vast majority of our assets, of course, are restricted to the Community Challenge Fund.  However, even with the significant amount of year-end donations to CCF, that line item ended the Fourth Quarter with a negative balance of $708.24 in our Checking Account.  This is because CCF started the Quarter with a negative balance of $11,876.66 and funded four new projects during the Quarter totaling $13,218.00. This negative balance will be off-set with a transfer from CCF reserves in the First Quarter of 2017. 


Looking ahead to 2017, I believe we are well positioned financially to have another productive year with many opportunities to provide assistance and service to both the Peace Corps and the Dominicans we are committed to serve.  Our major programs, Community Challenge Fund and Program Support Fund (PSF), are both financially stable.  Our History program is also well positioned, as is the General Fund.  Our pilot program for university scholarships, in conjunction with current and former student athletes at Virginia Tech, is showing a balance of only $16.00, but in actuality there is a balance in our peso account of $1,418, as reported by Guy Baehr, Chair of the Dominican Committee and the PSF.  Our partners at Virginia Tech are committed to continue raising the funds necessary to support the two remaining students who comprise the pilot program.


Our 2016 Year End Balance Sheet is presented below.


Balance Sheet As of 12/31/2016

Printed: January 18, 2017

ASSETS

1000 Checking Account 24,423.77

1500 Long Term Investments

1501 American Funds 344,574.15

1502 Brokerage Account 4,567.13

      _________

TOTAL Long Term Investments 349,141.28

TOTAL ASSETS 373,565.05


LIABILITIES and FUNDS

3000 Unrestricted Funds

3010 General Fund 12,205.78

TOTAL Unrestricted Funds 12,205.78

3200 Permanently Restricted Funds

3201 CCF Permanent Fund 348,433.04

3202 PSF Permanent Fund 8,539.81

3203 Kulstad Permanent Fund 1344.00

3204 History Project Permanent Fund 3,005.39

3205 Documentation Project Permanent Fund 21.03

3206 Fondo Quisqueya Permanent Fund 0.00

3207 Andres Hernandez Permanent Fund 0.00

3208 NPCA Permanent Fund 0.00

3209                                                                     Univ. Pilot DPV Permanent Fund           16.00

                                                                                      _________

TOTAL Permanently Restricted Funds 361,359.27

TOTAL LIABILITIES and FUNDS 373,565.05

 

Communications Committee and La Voz 

We published four regular issues of La Voz in 2016 and several special editions. The January issue thanked former board members Steve Johnson and Kathryn Hanowell for their service to FDR; we welcomed new board members Susan Stine and Jeremy O’Brian; we gave notice of two new books published by DR-RPCVs; we published three obituaries notices of DR-RPCVs; and, we featured an article about Camp Hope, a summer camp for kids with HIV in the DR, which is operated by La Clinica de Familia in La Romana and where DR-RPCV Adam Halpern works. In addition, we provide links to 13 articles of interest about the Dominican Republic. 

The April issue had an article about A Towering Task and the visit of the documentarian, Alana DeJoseph to the DR to film a segment for the film; a story about the Community Challenge Fund grant to La Vigia to bring potable water to four small communities; an article about the upcoming Brigada Verde conference to be sponsored by Education First with Dominican and American youth in Jarabacoa; And, an article on a potential university scholarship program being considered by FDR. In addition, we provided links to eight articles of interest about the Dominican Republic. 

Our June issue featured an article on the Community Challenge Fund grant to the Guarzara Associacion de Agricultores to fund a new green house to expand their production of agricultural products; an article about the Brigada Verde conference in Jarabacoa attended by 26 Dominican youth and 33 American students from Turning Point School, Culver City, CA; a story about Andy Hernandez, the first Country Director of Peace Corps in the DR and the plaque that was placed in the Santo Domingo PC office; and an article about two nonprofits that operate programs in the DR – Bridges to Community and Education Across Borders, both of which have DR-RPCVs involved.   In addition, we provided links to 14 articles of interest about the Dominican Republic. 

For our September issue, we opened with an article about FDR’s interest in collecting copies of Gringo Gritas for our history project and our support for the Peace Corps Community Archives at American University and FDRs urging DR-RPCVs to donate their PC materials; an article about our experience at NPCA’s PC Connect in Washington, DC; a story about the Community Challenge Fund grant to Copay to construct 40 fuel efficient, vented stoves to improve family health; An article about Madres Jewelry, a social enterprise program to provide vocational training, employment and income to very poor mothers in Los Pinos del Eden; and, our final article on the Peace Corps and the Center for Disease Control’s survey about the health condition of RPCVs.  In addition, we provided links to 16 articles of interest about the Dominican Republic. 

The four special editions of La Voz included a September call for nominations for the FDR board of directors, a survey of our members conducted by the Growth Committee; the 2016 holiday fundraising letter and the special Community Challenge Fund fundraising appeal. 

The Growth Committee Report

The Growth Committee’s goal is to ensure a vibrant, diverse, committed and sustainable organization and board of directors.  The Growth Committee will accomplish this goal by:

  1. Determining how to attract and retain younger members and sustain FDR’s future. 
  2. Designing and implementing a system for recruitment, selection, training and evaluation of board members.  

In October as its first official function, the Growth Committee conducted a survey of the subscribers to FDRs on-line newsletter. The purpose of the survey was to help determine changes that FDR could consider to better serve our members. The initial summary of the survey results were reported as:

  • Overall, there were 163 responses.
  • There were mixed results in most responses to the questions. 
  • Most people are involved with FDR through donations to our different programs (17% have donated to FDR-83% have not)
  • There was an interest in promoting PC’s Third Goal as a priority and there was strong support for the Community Challenge Fund and the Program Support Fund. The Mentoring Program also received support.
  • The respondents were separated into different generations of PCVs- there were 40 responders from the1960’s; 28 from the 1970’s; 25 from the 1980’s; 26 from the 1990’s; 26 from the 2000’s; and, 18 from the 2010’s.
  • 24 respondents have not returned to the DR since their service; 62 have returned between 1 & 6 times; 29 have returned more than 5 times; and 16 live in the DR.
  • 53 respondents wanted to keep dues but 110 respondents wanted to eliminate the dues (although there was some misunderstanding about the form of the question in the responses).

Generally, the respondents want to see more Third Goal activities and want more information about our programs and how to donate to them. The Growth Committee committed to evaluate the results of the survey and recommend changes in FDRs operations to more closely match the priorities expressed by the members in the survey. 

 

 

 

 

The Professional Development-Networking Committee

As a result of the Growth Committee’s survey of members and the lack of recent interest in the Mentoring Program, in March of 2017 the FDR board ended the Mentoring program and reorganized it into the Professional Development-Networking Program.  This program is aimed at Volunteers leaving Peace Corps service in the DR that are interested in pursuing a fulfilling career, attending graduate school or perhaps exploring an opportunity to do international work elsewhere in the world. The program is designed to connect Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) with other returned volunteers from the DR with whom they can network; learn about jobs and professions in the US; connect with graduate school opportunities, such as the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute in Vermont; or, provide information about international companies that are looking for former volunteers that want to continue their overseas work. 


The members of the reorganized Professional Development-Networking Program are looking to develop relationships with NPCA, businesses interested in RPCVs as partners and employees, graduate schools that want RPCVs as graduate students and other partnerships that will enrich the professional and personal lives of DR-RPCVs as they move forward in their careers and their lives. 

 

The Third Goal Committee

Also as a result of the Growth Committee Survey, the FDR board reorganized FDR’s Third Goal Committee. Sharing the Dominican Culture: This is Peace Corp’s Third Goal, helping Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries. It is one of the three goals that support the mission of Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. FDR’s reorganized Third Goal Committee hopes to provide information and tools to help you learn about the Dominican people and culture and share this information with others. We hope you will join in this effort. 

History Committee Report

The History Committee’s primary work during 2016 was advertising FDR’s new section in the American University Peace Corps Community Archives and sending the donation materials to six FDR members that requested them. Two DR-RPCVs, Geer Wilcox and Kim Herman, have already donated materials to the FDR section of AU’s PC Community Archives.  While interest among DR-RPCVs has been growing, the Dominican Republic section of the Archives remains one of the smallest in the collection. 


The History Committee also collected information on deceased DR-RPCVs, cataloging 3 deaths among this group with the help of our Membership Director, Janice Jorgensen, and submissions from other sources. 


In addition, the History Committee collected information on successful DR-RPCVs from newspapers and other sources that are brought to our attention. In 2016 we noted Matt Zumstein as the new Norwood District Ranger for the US Forest Service (Jan); Chris Waters as the President and Founder of LUNA Language Services, the largest American Sign Language interpreting staff in the central US (Feb.); Monique Turner-Lopez’s appointment as the CEO of the Family Center of Columbus, OH (Feb); Angela Bennet’s founding and continuing support for Counseling Connection International, Inc. in Consuelo, San Pedro de Marcoris, DR (March); the establishment of University of Rhode Island’s Peace Corps Prep program at the insistence of Neil Ross (March); Trudy Jaycox’s participating in Education Across Borders (April); the retirements of Al Kamen from the Washington Post after 35 years of writing the “In the Loop” column (Spring); Artist David Bradley’s receipt of the New Mexico Arts Community’s highest award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts (Oct); the appointment of Edward Crawford to be Managing Director of Avesta Communities new office in Dallas, TX (Oct); the reunion of RPCVs Frank Ferrari ( age 95) and Michael Warden in Seattle 50 years after serving together in the DR Nov); the posting of Rudolph Keith Dunn’s story, The Gift, by John Coyne, founder of the Peace Corps Writers Association, in his blog (Dec); and, the fundraising and planning for the students of Marshwood High School Interactive Club from South Berwick, Maine, for a trip to the Dominican Republic to work on projects for the environment and education with the help of Club Advisor Grace Jacobs (Dec). 


Finally, the History Committee with the help of FDR founder, Neil Ross, provided Documentarian, Alana
DeJoseph, with a significant amount of information about the history of Peace Corps in the DR in preparation for her trip to the Dominican Republic to film a segment of her upcoming documentary about Peace Corps, A Towering Task, which is scheduled for release in 2018 on PBS. 

 

The Membership Committee Report

The Membership Committee provides information to members about how to register for FDR’s database of current and former Volunteers and staff members that are serving or served in the Dominican Republic. They review and approve all persons that try to register for the database to be sure they meet the requirements to be registered; collect data from newspapers and other sources about DR-RPCVs, including obituary notices; revise materials for Peace Corps Dominican Republic to provide to new Volunteers and staff entering the DR; maintain the database and monitor for problems and errors; and, generally try to encourage Volunteers and RPCVs to become members of FDR. The Membership Committee provides the following information concerning FDR’s 2016 current membership:


Grand Total of Registered PCV’s, RPCV’s and former staff: 4,248

PCVs and RPCVs 3,963

Not a DR PCV   125

Deceased    160

Registered PCVs with non-working emaiil address   264

Registered PCVs with no mailing address   860

Registered PCVs with no email address   830

Registered PCVs with no years of service listed     28

FDR Facebook members 1,099

FDR LinkedIn members   387


If you need assistance with the database or have problems registering information, please contact membershipdirector@fotdr.org

 

Summary

Friends of the Dominican Republic continues to be an active and vibrant organization committed to supporting the Peace Corps’ programs in the Dominican Republic and helping the American people understand the culture and people that live there. We appreciate the support we get from our members and encourage you to become involved in the programs and committees of FDR in the coming years.