Annual Report 2017

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

2017 Annual Report

 

 

FDR had a busy year in 2017 with the addition of five new board members: Bronwen Raff, Topher Vollmer, Christopher MacAlpine-Belton, Randy Mauer and Christina Houtz . They have contributed significantly to our work. Our new officers include Peter Hainley as Vice President and Randy Mauer as Secretary. To improve member services we created the Professional Development-Networking committee this year and re-organized the Third Goal committee to include advocacy.

Highlights of our work in 2017:

  • Through the Community Challenge Fund we helped fund: 95 smokeless Duncan Stoves in three communities – Juagua, El Hatico and Los Miches ($8,270); constructed an Agro-Veterinarian Supply and Resource Center in Punta Cana ($4,000); constructed a Sports Court for Kids in Copay ($4,000); constructed 20 residential cement floors to improve health in Juan Santiago ($2,357); and, re-constructed non-potable water canals in the city of Constanza ($3,491). Most importantly, in the process of these projects we assisted PCVs to be successful in their communities and helped Dominicans learn how to improve their lives.
  • Through our Program Support Fund we helped: the Gringo Grita PCV Editorial Board obtain two needed software licenses for magazine production ($919); provided funding for a Dajabon area school conference to benefit teachers ($186); and committed funding to equip a community center in the Samana area ($3,000).
  • We completed a two year Demonstration University Scholarship Program that supported two young Dominicans: one who graduated this year and one who will graduate in 2018 under the new Fondo Quisqueya Scholarship Program, which we helped get started.
  • We reached agreement with the School for International Studies (SIT) in Burlington, VT to provide two $2,000 tuition scholarships to RPCVs from the DR each year.
  • Two FDR board members attended the NPCA Peace Corps Connect Conference in Denver, staffed an FDR exhibit table and talked with 8 RPCVs from the DR.
  • We provided new information about FDR programs to Peace Corps-DR for distribution to new PCVs and also revised our welcome letter to new RPCVs registering with FDR.
  • We contributed a second $500 to Alana de Joseph’s soon-to-be-released PBS documentary - A Towering Task- which will feature PC’s experience in the DR.
  • We created the Professional Development/Networking Committee to develop a stronger, more effective way of serving COSing Volunteers looking for career assistance or a graduate school opportunity.
  • To keep you informed, our editor - Lauren Abreu and crew - issued 4 publications of La Voz, our newsletter on DR/Peace Corps happenings.
  • Received recognition from Charlotte Key, Acting Director for the Office of Gifts and Grants Management in PC Headquarters, for FDR’s continued support for PCV projects in the Dominican Republic through the Peace Corps Partnership Program.

The following are more detailed reports about our most important programs and Committee Activities, starting with the reports of the Community Challenge Fund and the Program Support Fund.

The FDR Community Challenge Fund

Highlights

2016 was a strong year for the Challenge Fund but unfortunately, 2017 was one of the few “off” years experienced in terms of the number of project applications received and approved. Only 7 projects were approved (about the annual average). Over the two-year period however, we had the second strongest two-year period ever with 23 projects approved. The reasons cited by Peace Corps/DR staff for the drop-off in the number of project applications submitted were changes in Peace Corps priorities, which dropped the youth and health programs; anomalies from cycles in Volunteers coming and leaving; and, unusually high drop-out rates for Youth Sector Volunteers.

The total amount of funds approved for projects in 2016-2017 (over $71,000) was the second highest in our fifteen-year history, pushing our total approved over the $250,000 mark to more than $270,000 over the life of CCF. Total project approvals reached 116 by the end of 2017.

Fund-raising continued to be strong in 2017 with a total of $46,844 donated, exceeding the prior year donations of $30,213. One reason for this increase was a large ($15,000) donation contributed to the Robert Kulstad/CCF fund . The Robert Kulstad Memorial funds are matched with other CCF funds and used for water projects. Due to changing Peace Corps priorities, however, we anticipate that applications for water projects, which until recent years were one of the major requests, will slow significantly in future years. On the other hand, because of new emphases by Peace Corps, we anticipate more applications for economic development and education-related facilities such as learning centers and libraries.

Impacts

Site visits conducted during 2017 by two CCF Committee members demonstrated the worth of the projects. The projects reviewed included some near the Haitian border, demonstrating that funds were directed toward the families in most need. The completion of cement floors, latrine projects and highly popular Duncan, high-efficiency, cooking stoves in the communities we visited demonstrated the projects were having positive impacts on the health of beneficiaries, especially children.

A site visit to the inaugural Challenge Fund project approved 15 years ago (Paso de los Burros) revealed that the aqueduct project has provided a continuous supply of water to households since then.

As expected, economic development projects were taking longer than most projects to complete, some requiring Volunteers to extend or have incoming Volunteers assigned to complete the project. The 2018 site visits will include a return to two of the economic development projects to review progress.

2017 Projects -

The 7 projects funded in 2017 benefitted 3,450 Dominicans and raised the total number of projects to 116, benefitting 34,727 persons.

Projects approved in 2017:

  • 3 communities constructed improved, efficient cooking stoves in 95 homes
  • 1 economic development project was started for a bovine feed store/veterinarian service
  • A community home improvement program constructed 25 cement floors in homes
  • A Court for Kids project benefitted 85 households
  • Reconstruction of drainage canals to prevent flooding from drainage and reduce contamination in one barrio in a large community

2017 Fundraising – As mentioned above, we far exceeded our goal of raising $30,000 for project activities. A total of $46,844 was received, including a $15,000 donation for the CCF/Kulstad Fund. A total of 155 donors contributed to CCF. This represented a record number, exceeding the 2016 total of 145 donors. This total included $16,036 donated by 14 donors to support community water projects through the Robert Kulstad Memorial Fund. However, there were no applications submitted for water projects so the Kulstad funds will roll over into 2018.

2018 Projections & Activities – In 2018, we hope to fund 10 new projects and set a goal of raising at least $25,000 during the year. Our capitalized sustaining fund remains at a healthy balance and will be sufficient to fill any gap between funds raised and 2018 project allocations.

Historical Perspective – Since the first Community Challenge Fund project approved in 2004, we have awarded $270,263 to 116 projects, including the following:

  • 36 Latrine projects, providing latrines for 501 households and 4 schools
  • 30 Community Drinking Water, Aqueduct or Well-drilling projects, including benefit to 4 schools
  • 15 energy efficient/healthy cooking stove projects for 584 households
  • 11 Library/Youth Education Facilities
  • 11 Sanitary Cement Floor projects for 233 families
  • 4 School Expansions
  • 3 economic development projects, including a Greenhouse, a Women’s Coconut Oil Production Facility, a Feed Store/Veterinarian Service and an Eco-Tourism project
  • 2 Courts for Kids projects
  • 1 Community Health Clinic
  • 1 Community Electrification project
  • 1 Community Water Catchment System
  • 1 Drainage Canal Reconstruction

A total of 34,727 persons in 7,958 households have benefitted from this assistance since 2004. More than $650,000 in other funds has been leveraged by the contribution of Community Challenge Fund grants.

Program Support Fund and the Dominican Committee

The Dominican Committee continued its efforts to support the Brigada Verde youth environmental awareness program during 2017. Education First, in collaboration with the National Environmental School and Peace Corps Volunteers involved with local Brigada Verde groups in their communities, held a second annual Brigada Verde national conference in March at the environmental school in Jarabacoa.

The 2017 conference followed a similar conference the previous Spring, also sponsored by Education First, a private company that sponsors international language, education and exchange programs in numerous countries. Both conferences were initiated and organized by Ekow Edzie, a former DR-PCV and previous Education First country manager in the DR who is a member of the Dominican Committee.

Building on those successful events, the Dominican Committee helped organize a meeting in December among the two co-coordinators of the current PCVs active with local Brigada Verde groups, the current country manager for Education First in the DR and the director and dean of students for the National Environmental School.

All agreed to pursue plans for another national Brigada Verde conference in March, to be followed by up to four regional workshops in which students from the school will travel to sites in the areas of Mont Cristie, Dajabon and El Seybo to hold one-day workshops with PCVs and local Brigada Verde leaders and participants. The Dominican Committee approved a grant from the Project Support Fund of $1,460 to pay for transportation, lodging and workshop materials for the environmental school students leading the workshops. The grant will be made to the environmental school once details of the workshops are determined. The committee is also supplying additional Brigada Verde manuals for participants in the workshops and the national conference.

One goal is to have the environmental school, which is part of the Dominican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, take on a more active role in sustaining and expanding the Brigada Verde program, which was created by Peace Corps more than a decade ago but is no longer a formal part of PC/DR’s core programs, although individual Volunteers continue to work with local groups as an optional secondary activity.

Also during 2017, the Dominican Committee closed out a pilot program co-sponsored with a group of students and faculty at Virginia Tech to provide full university scholarships to two Dominican students who had worked for several years with Peace Corps Volunteers and Virginia Tech students and faculty in Sports for Life (Deportes Para La Vida), a youth program. Both students’ scholarships to Dominican universities were funded entirely by Virginia Tech donors while the scholarships were administered through and by Friends of the DR and its Dominican Committee.

One of the two students, Victor Reynoso, graduated in October from the Universidad Central del Este in San Pedro de Macoris with a degree in bioanalysis qualifying him to operate a medical laboratory. The other student, Miguel Angel Smera, completed his seventh trimester of study at the National Evangelical University in Santo Domingo and was accepted for a competitive scholarship from a new university scholarship program recently initiated by Fondo Quisqueya. The Fondo Q scholarship will allow him to complete his last three trimesters of study and graduate at the end of 2018. He is majoring in education with a minor in social science. He was one of only three applicants accepted into the new scholarship program from among more than 150 original applicants.

During 2017, two grants were made from the Program Support Fund: one for $919 for software licenses needed for computers used by Volunteer editors to produce Gringo Grita, the Volunteer written newsletter distributed to Volunteers in the Dominican Republic; the second grant was for $3,000 to equip a community center near Samana. Community members working with a local PCV contributed an additional $1,900 toward equipping the center with lighting, chairs, security bars and other items. The building had earlier been competed by members of the community working with PCV Jaime Henry White.

The Program Support Fund ended the year with $6,672, including donations of just over $1,000. The committee anticipates an increased demand for grants as efforts to sustain and expand Brigada Verde accelerate and as Peace Corps continues to expand its Education Sector teacher training efforts. The Committee plans continued discussions with PC/DR staff and Volunteers to determine where future program support grants may be most needed and effective.

Third Goal Committee

At the March 2017 board meeting, the Growth Committee recommended the creation of the 3rd Goal Committee. A survey conducted by the Growth Committee found large interest in 3rd Goal activities. It was therefore decided to form the 3rd Goal Committee. In 2017 the committee worked with the Membership Committee to improve the email new FDR members receive. The updated email includes links to FDR resources as well as NPCA links related to the 3rd Goal. In September 2017, the Board decided to include advocacy as part of the 3rd Goal Committee’s work. The committee plans to promote the NPCA’s National Day of Action on March 1st, 2018, as one of the new activities.

Professional Development/Networking Committee

The Professional Development/Networking committee was created in March of 2017 to replace FDR’s Match and Mentoring program, which had not been active for about two years. The committee was created to develop a new program for PCV’s ending their service in the Dominican Republic and looking for help with their transition from Peace Corps to career or educational opportunities as an RPCV. Board member Jeremy O’Brien was named chair of the new committee and Christopher MacAlpine-Belton and Christina Houtz, were appointed to serve on the new committee. Some highlights of the committee’s work in 2017 included the following:

  • Beginning in March the committee met by phone to begin to define the role and responsibilities of the committee.
  • In July the committee drafted a Charter for the committee that included a new Mission Statement: “To support and enhance the professional development and networking of DR-RPCVs at all stages of their careers through education, training, networking, and professional development activities, both during and after formal Close of Service (COS).” The draft charter also outlined the roles and responsibilities of the committee and a draft schedule of activities.
  • The committee discussed the draft Charter with the board of directors and determined to consider revisions as the purpose and the work of the committee was more clearly defined.
  • The committee talked with World Waters about that organization’s work in developing countries and about possible opportunities for COSing DR-PCVs.
  • Committee member Christina Houtz wrote an article for the September issue of La Voz about her impressions of the NPCA- PC Connect- conference in Denver as a recently COSing volunteer.
  • Committee member Christopher MacAlpine Belton interviewed Eric Narnajo, a DR-RPCV that had received the 2017 scholarship to the University of Southern California for their International MBA program. The article will be published in La Voz in 2018.
  • In the last quarter of the year, the committee began the development of a register of DR-RPCVs that are interested in serving as mentors to COSing DR Volunteers interested in particular career fields, international work or graduate school attendance. They were successful in connecting a recent returning volunteer interested in publishing a book with a DR-RPCV that has published several books as one example of the committee’s effort to connect returning Volunteers with a mentor.

History Committee

The History Committee completed a number of projects during 2017 that will help record the history of Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, track the lives of former PC Volunteers who served their and promote an understanding of how Peace Corps changes the lives of both the Volunteer and the people they served. The highlights of the Committee’s 2017 accomplishments are noted below:

  • Promoted interviews of RPCVs that served in the Dominican Republic in La Voz and supported the creation and development of the Professional Development/Networking Committee.
  • Attended the National Peace Corps Association’s PC Connect, in Denver Colorado representing FDR and disseminated information about FDR’s programs and visited with eight RPCVs from the DR that also attended the conference.
  • Conducted the First Annual History Committee Short Story Contest that received five stories submitted by FDR members that were linked to both La Voz and FDR’s website at www.fotdr.org.
  • With great help from Membership Director, Jance Jorgensen, collected newspaper articles and stories about current and former PC Volunteers from the Dominican Republic.
  • Successfully encouraged the first two donations of materials to the FDR Section of the Peace Corps Community Archives at American University, published several articles about the opportunity to donate to the archives at AU and mailed donation information to FDR members about how to prepare and donate materials in the future.
  • Again, with great help of Membership Director, Janice Jorgensen, collected information about deceased RPCVs who served in the Dominican Republic.
  • Encouraged a second $500 donation to the production of Alana De Joseph’s documentary on the history of the Peace Corps – A Towering Task- which will feature information about PC in the Dominican Republic.

Communications Committee and La Voz

The Communications Committee and Editor of La Voz, Lauren Abreau, continued to post on FDR’s Facebook site and publish our electronic newsletter, La Voz. The four editions of La Voz contained a variety of articles on FDR’s activities, happenings in the DR and links to articles about Dominican Life. Highlights of La Voz articles included:

The February La Voz highlighted information about our five newly elected board members; the establishment of the Friends of the Dominican Republic Section of the Peace Corps Community Archive at American University; the value of potable water in the community of Jabonico, after completion of a water project there by PCV Tiven Buggy; a summary of the meeting between FDR officers and PC staff in the DR; an interview with the PC Country Director, Kristin Kaper; and, links to eighteen stories about Dominicans, Dominican life, DR-RPCVs and other related information collected by Editor Lauren Abreau.

The April La Voz highlighted three newly elected board members; the changes to FDR’s committees and activities as a result of the Growth Committee’s membership survey in 2016; the History Committee’s First Annual Short Story Contest; a new scholarship opportunity for DR-RPCVs at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont; an interview with recent DR-RPCV Grayson Caldwell; and, links to fifteen stories about Dominicans, Dominican life, DR-RPCVs and other related information collected by Editor Lauren Abreau.

The July La Voz included a summary of FDR’s Significant Accomplishments in 2016 and a link to the 2016 Annual Report; a reminder of NPCA’s Peace Corps Connect Conference in Denver; an invitation for members to serve on FDR committees; a Thank You! From the community of Los Rios for the construction of 15 sanitary latrines made possible by a Community Challenge Fund grant; a story about Board members Susan Stine and Christopher MacAlpine-Belton participating in the NPCA PC Advocacy day in DC; and, links to nine articles, books or other information related to PC or the DR.

The September La Voz included an article about Hurricane Irma hitting the DR; two articles about NPCA’s PC Connect Conference in Denver, Colorado; an article about Alana De Joseph’s historical documentary of PC to include PC/DR segments; a call for nominations for board members; a reminder about the Short Story Contest: an article about the annual El Convite Banilejo in Boston featuring Dominican culture there; and links to articles, books, events and other information related to PC or the DR

In November and December La Voz included the Annual Fundraising Appeal Letter (Nov) and the Election Ballot (Dec) for the election of FDR board members.

Treasurer’s Annual Report

In the simplest terms, the Treasurer’s primary job is to handle corporate finances, that is to process and account for all monies received and to account for all monies disbursed. In 2017, three quarterly Income and Expense Reports, as well as a year-end Income and Expense Report, were prepared and submitted to the Board. Similarly, Balance Statements and Trial Balance Statements for the same periods were prepared to better reflect the organization’s overall financial condition, including investments. Form 990, the annual reports to the IRS for non-profits, can be viewed on our public website. In 2017, the Treasurer continued to rely exclusively on the accounting software we acquired in 2014. With the exception of a manually produced Trial Balance, all reports were generated by the software.

In 2017, FDR continued to fund a pilot project to test the feasibility of awarding university scholarships to young Dominicans who have worked alongside Peace Corps Volunteers in various youth leadership programs (see the Program Support Fund above).

Financial Summary

In summary, on a cash accounting basis, the organization started the year with $24,423.77 Cash on Hand. We received $55,128.80 in new dues and donations, including a one-time extraordinary gift of $15,000. In addition, given the extraordinary rise in the stock market, our investment portfolio earned $49,707.84. In turn, the organization disbursed a total of $28,240.09 leaving $51,402.36 Cash on Hand at year-end. As expected, the great majority of our expenses supported programmatic activities, specifically $24,073.42 or 85.2%. Administrative expenses were minimal, specifically $2,833.31 or 10.0%, even though year-end printing and mailing expenses for both 2015 and 2016 are included in this category. Finally, benefits paid to or on behalf of members represented $1,333.36 or 4.7%. Note, additional administrative expenses for postage and printing of our 2017 year-end mailing were not available at year-end and will be included in the 2018 report. Given the magnitude of our principal program, Community Challenge Fund, the Treasurer maintained separate reports for donations to and disbursements made on behalf of that program, and liaised frequently with the CCF Program Manager and the Peace Corps Partnership specialist at Peace Corps headquarters.

In addition to the principal financial responsibilities, the Treasurer completed the following actions in 2017.

  • Annual filing of Form 990 and supporting schedules to the IRS
  • Annual report to the Virginia Corporation Commission on status of the organization
  • Confirmed 51 donations to our smaller program funds for tax deduction purposes
  • Updated expiration dates of individual memberships in corporate web database
  • Updated address changes received from USPS in corporate web database
  • Liaised with Fondo Quisqueya, attending their quarterly Board meetings in the DC area
  • Participation in monthly FDR Board conference calls as well as occasional calls and emails to/from Executive Committee

My primary job is to keep the database as current as possible; to help people who have trouble logging-in to access the database. In reality, I do nothing with getting people to be a member. I collect no money. I monitor no memberships within FDR. I check the bounced emails in Constant Contact and update those I can find and begin to unsubscribe those that are rejected, suspended or discontinued for some other unknown reason. The Membership Report represents almost no growth, although there are probably close to 75 to 100 new PCVs every year.

Issues for Future Attention:

  • Working successfully with PC/DR to have current PCVs and trainees learn about FDR and join while in the DR
  • To identify the benefits of FDR to current PCVs and RPCVs. Mostly, the printed or published information is about facts not the benefits of FDR membership.
  • FDR needs a Facebook and LinkedIn champion that will contact PC/DR folks to get their email addresses so we can get them in the database.