Puerto Rican Community Foundation

Global Philanthropists Circle (Synergos)



Case Study Sector


In Africa, Asia and Latin America, citizen participation through a range of civil society organizations has become a growing and vital force. Civil society organizations have brought significant material and human resources from the community level to bear on poverty problems through donations of time, energy, materials and money. Locally managed and controlled organizations that provide direct financial support to other organizations within their societies have been established over the last decade in many southern countries. Few of them were created with a single large endowment, as was the case with most northern private foundations. Most of them rely on a wide range of strategies to mobilize financial resources, including earned income contributions from individuals and corporations and grants from international organizations. Some managed donor-designated or donor-advised funds following the US community foundation experience.
To distinguish this type of southern foundationlike organization from northern foundations, the term "civil society resource organization," or CSRO, has been proposed. This term refers to organizations which combine financial assistance to community-based organizations and NGOs with other forms of support for organizations or the civil society sector as a whole.
The idea of establishing the Puerto Rico Community Foundation (PRCF) began at a forum sponsored by the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC), a nonprofit organization led by mainland (U.S.) Puerto Ricans. Support for the idea grew through extensive discussions involving Puerto Ricans on the island and in the US, as well as among businesses in Puerto Rico and US foundations.
U.S. foundations—led by the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, and the Rockefeller, Charles Stewart Mott, and MacArthur Foundations—supported the creation of an indigenous foundation that would mobilize local and international resources and channel them as grants to community organizations and nonprofit organizations. The founders had hoped that, in addition to support from 936 corporations and U.S. foundations, significant funding would also be available from local corporate and individual donors, but local donors have lagged behind the other sources. In 1986, the Foundation began accepting earmarked grants that it administers from other donors. It also manages nine donor-designated family funds. Today the PRCF's endowment stands at $10 million.
The PRCF has five priority areas: economic development, community development, art and culture, and health and education. The PRCF also manages an autonomous Permanent Fund for the Arts with its own program director and separate grants budget. In addition to grantmaking and grant intermediation, the PRCF directly administers programs, including the Institute for the Promotion of Philanthropy, which provides training and technical assistance to philanthropic institutions throughout the Caribbean.



  • Latin America

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