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Clinton Foundation recognizes Foundation for Puerto Rico

By on August 7, 2018

SAN JUAN – During the second meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery to help islands struck by last year’s historic hurricanes, several commitments were announced, and President Bill Clinton recognized the work done by Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR).

More than 400 government, business and civil society representatives gathered at the University of Miami to address the islands’ long-term recovery needs and discuss preparation during this year’s hurricane season.

At the event, former President Bill Clinton, who founded and chairs the Clinton Foundation, announced seven “commitments to action”– or “solutions that are new, specific, and measurable”– including solarizing schools in Dominica, improving technology and communications infrastructure across the Caribbean, and pre-positioning health supplies.

Foundation for Puerto Rico–a nonprofit established to insert the island into the global economy via social and economic development programs as well as to promote its attractions not only as a tourism destination, but also its investment potential–was recognized by Clinton for its work after Hurricane María, which included providing capital and mentoring to small businesses.

FPR added its own commitment in Miami. It will expand its “Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative” to 50 communities in the next three years.

Bottom Up works with communities and small businesses to provide the tools they need to develop social and economic development plans. It began in the Puerto Rico municipality of Orocovis and is also being carried out in Humacao’s Punta Santiago.

Following Hurricane Maria, FPR began to help small and midsize businesses reopen. With a combined $500,000, it has now supported 200 businesses in 11 municipalities. But the plan now includes a $7 million investment in infrastructure, including solar energy systems, water tanks and filters, and satellite communication systems. In addition, participating small businesses can pursue $1.2 million in cash incentives.

The goal, FPR explained, is to support 300 more businesses, and specifically, create 72 new businesses and 1,116 jobs.

“Foundation for Puerto Rico is committed to the social and economic development of our communities through the Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative. We are extremely grateful to the Clinton Foundation for recognizing the importance of this program and the impact it will have on Puerto Rico,” said Annie Mayol, president and COO of Foundation for Puerto Rico. The effort is conducted in partnership with local nonprofits such as Centro para Emprendedores, Grupo Guayacán, Kiva and Fundación Banco Popular.

Former President Bill Clinton and Annie Mayol, president and COO of Foundation for Puerto Rico (Courtesy)

To date, the Action Network and members of the CGI community have made 17 commitments that are addressing critical needs in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Barbuda.

“I’m so grateful for all the members of the CGI community who are working not only to address the current challenges, but to support each others’ efforts to improve lives across the Caribbean region,” Clinton said. “We must remember that there’s another hurricane season already upon us. We need to continue our efforts, working together to repair the past in a way that makes the future more resilient.”

Among the other participants of the meeting were Nikima Royer Jno Baptiste, chief executive officer, Digicel Dominica; Dee Baecher-Brown, president, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands; Marta Michelle Colón, Chief Attitude Strategist, Buena Gente; Bob Lord, chief digital officer, IBM; and Rosie Pérez, actress and activist.

At the meeting as well was Arnaldo Cruz, FPR’s Research and Analytics director, who led a panel about the visitor economy in the Caribbean, which is central to its development and attracting investment.

Besides FPR’s Bottom Up expansion to build resiliency and economic opportunity to 24 new communities on the island, Clinton also announced the following commitments, as per CGI’s news release:

– NetHope has committed to strengthen the communications and technology infrastructure in the Caribbean region, working with Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft, and others to pre-position equipment, deploy staff, providing training, and create data sharing platforms that will support real-time decision making by responder.

–  Expedia Group, Construction for Change, and Sextant Foundation have committed to install solar systems at six schools in Dominica, all of which were identified as high priorities by the prime minister.

– Direct Relief has committed to expand their Hurricane Preparedness Programs, allowing them to distribute more critical modules and packs containing basic medical supplies to high-risk areas; these modules can be deployed in the event of a hurricane and used to treat 5,000 patients for up to a month or 100 patients for five days.

– The Smallholder Farmers Alliance has committed to work with Visit Rico and Textile Exchange to study the feasibility of reintroducing cotton as a crop to Puerto Rico, and making recommendations based on those findings to potentially adopt this as a vehicle for economic development.

– Solight Design and the Hispanic Federation have committed to donate and distribute 50,000 SolarPuffs – durable, collapsible solar lanterns – to communities without reliable access to grid power in Puerto Rico.

– SteadiCam Associates and Trieste Associates Inc. have committed to create a docu-series that will simultaneously work as an outreach and education program to inform local communities about critical innovations in agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and other areas that will help promote recovery and long-term resiliency.

For more detail about these commitments, see a document posted by CGI here.

The Clinton Foundation says CGI has helped “improve the lives of more than 430 million people in 180 countries worldwide,” including through the decade-old CGI Haiti Action Network, which “has led to 130 Commitments to Action in Haiti worth more than $500 million when fully funded and implemented, in areas including health, education, energy, enterprise, agriculture, and infrastructure.”

Former President Clinton launches post-hurricane recovery network 

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