Intensive Training opportunity through Let Girls Lead – Honduras


We are pleased to share a new opportunity in Honduras through Let Girls Lead. Let Girls Lead is requesting applications from leaders ages 16-60 to participate in an intensive training program that will strengthen capacity to implement strategies to improve health policy advocacy, human rights, and the social and economic well-being of adolescents. Let Girls Lead is looking for leaders who work in the following areas: human rights, sustainable development, sexual and reproductive health, youth development, micro-credit, public policy advocacy, lobbying, media, education, leadership, gender and other related areas.

The deadline to apply is June 5, 2015. For more information and to download an information sheet and the selection criteria, visit the website of Let Girls Lead:, or contact the Let Girls Lead Country Representative in Honduras, Vanessa Siliezar at

CAMY Fund Visit to ALAS/WINGS in Guatemala

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

On my recent trip to Guatemala I had the opportunity to see first-hand the work of ALAS/WINGS, one of the CAMY Fund’s grantees. Early in the morning on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Michele Frix, SIF’s Director of Programs, and I headed off to Cobán in the northern state of Alta Verapaz.

Panoramic view of Cobán, Alta Verapaz.

We reached the city (population: 144,461) in the afternoon and headed to the WINGS office to meet their team. We knew Fidelia Chub, the project leader for the CAMY Fund, but had not yet met her colleagues: Kimberly Morales, Director of Programs, Dominga Torres Morales, who is a Peer Educator along with Fidelia, and Ana Iczep, who is a Health Promoter with the organization. The next day, Michele and I joined Kimberly and Fidelia on a visit to the nearby community of Tanchi in order to meet with some potential youth leaders and their mothers. Cobán’s streets quickly gave way as we bounced along a lush-green gravel road. The meeting was held inside the home of a WINGS health promoter, Doña Olga Chocoj, in a large room where she can meet privately with women and men from the community seeking out family planning methods. Four young women between the ages of 16 and 20 had been recruited by Doña Olga to participate in WINGS’ youth network. They were accompanied by two of their mothers who were there to learn more and give permission for them to participate in the network’s first training the following week. Fidelia spoke to the mothers and young women in their native Q’eqchi’, though the young women also spoke Spanish. She shared with them about WINGS’ mission, the upcoming training for peer educators, as well as the expectations for these youth leaders in their communities. The young women had been selected because they are all role models in their communities and are interested in working with their peers to increase their access to reproductive health services and reduce teen pregnancy.

Young women in Tanchi, Alta Verapaz selected to participate in WINGS’ youth network.

The young women timidly, but enthusiastically, shared about their interest in joining the network and participating in the upcoming training in Coban. They all had previous experience as peer educators with another local NGO that works to improve maternal health and promote girls’ empowerment.
While the rest of us ate sweet tamales and café prepared by our hostess, Fidelia carried out her standard supervisory visit in Q’eqchi’ with Doña Olga in order to review the monthly clinical records of community members who had sought out family planning services and refill her stock of contraceptive methods.

Fidelia and Doña Olga Chocoj review the patient records and contraceptive methods disseminated during the last month.

At the end of the visit we said goodbye to Doña Olga and the young women and their mothers, wishing them well at the upcoming training. Both Michele and I were deeply impressed by the level of organization and professionalism that Fidelia demonstrated. She seemed equally comfortable speaking with the young women who are only a couple of years younger than her, as with their mothers and Doña Olga. It was clear to us that Fidelia is not only a valuable member of the WINGS team, but also a recognized leader within her community.

Fidelia Chub, CAMY Fund project leader.

On Friday, March 13, Michele and I met with the WINGS team in their Antigua office. We spoke with the organization’s Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Bernarda Jimenez, also a former iLeap Fellow, as well as Shilpa Kothari, the organization’s Development Director. We appreciated learning about the past several years of WINGS’ work, how their organization has grown and developed, and their plans for the future.

The post-script to this entry is that a week later, back in Mexico City, Fidelia asked me to participate by Skype in the inauguration at the youth leaders training. The training was a great success, with 134 young people present from 61 communities in the municipalities of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Carcha, Cobán and Chisec.

Inauguration of youth training.

Congratulations to Fidelia and the WINGS team for their commitment to empowering young people through education, in Alta Verapaz and throughout Guatemala!


Scholarship and travel opportunity!

The Central American Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) sets aside money every year to fund two travel grants for scholars in Central America who would like to attend the annual conference. LASA especially encourages students to apply for these awards. To apply, please submit a C.V. and a cover letter describing your research, the paper you plan to present at the conference and financial need. The deadline to receive your application is February 13, 2015. The section officers will review the applications, and we will notify the winners in early March. If you receive a grant, you must then become a member of the Section (the cost is $10).

Please submit the required application materials to the co-chairs, Claudia Rueda ( and Sonja Wolf (  Please note, If you received a travel grant from LASA to attend this year’s conference, you are not eligible to apply for a section grant.


CAMY Fund Accepting Proposals from Guatemala and Honduras

The CAMY Fund, supported and administered by the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) in partnership with the Summit Foundation, is currently seeking proposals from young leaders in Guatemala and Honduras. Here at the CAMY Fund, we believe young people have the innovative ideas, energy, and passion necessary to improve their own lives. What they need is a catalyst to bring all their ideas to fruition. The CAMY Fund provides critical financial support and technical assistance to young leaders to turn those fresh ideas into reality, helping young people to lead their peers to build better lives.

The CAMY Fund is currently seeking proposals from young leaders working in Guatemala and Honduras to address the following issues 1) child/early marriage and 2) secondary school retention among girls. The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) for this first round in 2015 is February 6, 2015. Organizations can apply for up to $35,000 USD during this current grantmaking round. Although this round is limited to Guatemala and Honduras, CAMY Fund will be seeking proposals from organizations working in Belize and Quintana Roo, Mexico as well later this year.

The CAMY Fund is pleased to announce a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for the first round of grantmaking in 2015. The current RFP is only open to organizations in Guatemala and Honduras that are working on the issues of 1) child/early marriage and 2) secondary school retention among girls. Please download the RFP by clicking here and review it carefully to determine if you organization meets the eligibility criteria.

Organizations that fulfill the criteria for selection within the current (RFP) may submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in English or Spanish (not in both languages) by clicking here to set up a user account in SIF’s grantmaking system:

  • Click Create New Account to create a new user name.
  • Once you are logged in, click on Dashboard in the top left corner.
  • Click on Apply and then click on 2015 Central America and Mexico Youth Fund | Round 1 to begin to fill out the Expression of Interest in English.
  • You can save your work and return at any time. Once you are ready to submit, click on Submit.

The deadline for submission of the EOI is February 6, 2015.

Call for Applications: 2015 Professional Collaboration and Leadership Course
The Association for Leadership in Guatemala (a NGO in Guatemala) is accepting applications until January 31, 2015  for a course in vocational training. SIF is pleased to promote this initiative led by Rocío Gonzalez, 2010 iLEAP graduate.

The course takes place over the duration of 9 months (March to December 2015) and creates a space that cultivates and integrates the leadership skills, strengths and collaboration between participants. The monthly sessions are designed to create a space for reflection for local leaders with community experience who believe in their country. Ideal candidates are those leaders capable of working with different cultures and who demonstrate openness and ability to adapt to new learning experiences.

For more information and application process, please visit:

General Information

Application (Spanish)

We encourage you to consider this great professional development opportunity. This course will take place in Guatemala, and will be lead in Spanish by a professional team.

If you have any questions while completing your application, please contact the Association for Leadership in Guatemala team at


To help Central America, send smarter aid, not just more aid

The plan announced last week by the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is a promising start toward addressing the issues causing so many people to flee those countries.

Announced alongside Vice President Joe Biden and Inter-American Development Bank President Moreno, the plan focuses on development and job opportunities for youth, providing security through prevention and better law enforcement, and improving governance. But it’s going to take more than rhetoric to attack the problems driving migration. The governments of Central America and their private sectors, the United States government and U.S. philanthropic community, and other international donors are going to have to provide resources to turn the rhetoric into reality.

Securing funding from the United States government, other countries, and the private sector will be only the first step. We must also make sure the money is spent wisely. Congress and the Administration should take an active role in helping to facilitate these smart investments.

Yesterday, in fact, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere heard from Administration officials about their plan to deal with the surge in migration of unaccompanied children from Central America to the U.S. Both Administration officials and subcommittee members expressed a mutual interest in addressing the root causes of the issues plaguing the region.

One common-sense approach would be to make sure new aid builds on the decades of support and investments made by U.S. foundations and other nonprofits working to help the region. A new report commissioned and released today by the Seattle International Foundation shows that between 2010 and 2012, 138 foundations awarded 909 grants for Central America totaling $488.4 million. However, there is poor coordination between the U.S. government, private philanthropy, and other donors. The problems of Central America are complex, and to succeed we need to foster collective action and work to maximize and align the investments of key stakeholders.

The Obama Administration has an important role to play in helping shape a regional strategy that can leverage private resources and ensure the federal government’s dollars are maximized.

The U.S. government and other nations have poured billions into these countries over the decades, but state institutions remain fragile and unable to deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security. Conditions are so poor that in the past year, we saw more than 60,000 unaccompanied children fleeing Central America and arriving at the U.S. border. They are fleeing extreme poverty, conscription into criminal gangs, and the highest murder rates in the world. But perhaps most importantly, they are fleeing societies where the governments are incapable of protecting their citizens or their economies leave too many without a chance to earn a basic income.

The people of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras need support that can boost their economies and strengthen their state institutions. But they also need smart aid that helps improve basic government functions and encourages the private sector to create new jobs for millions of disenfranchised youth.

Vice President Biden rightly points out the dire infrastructure needs in this region for roads, bridges and electrical grid improvements. But its people need jobs, and the training and education necessary to do those jobs. As we build roads and bridges, we must also work to prepare the craftsmen and engineers who will build and maintain that infrastructure, and the entrepreneurs and workers who will use it to build more inclusive economies.

This region needs strong, accountable government institutions. The three countries must tackle organized crime, street gangs, and pervasive insecurity. That requires solid criminal investigations, professional police forces, and effective criminal justice systems. Community policing and special criminal investigation units are models that show promise, so aid should be targeted at improving civilian law enforcement and court systems.

The people of this region need support in combating corruption and increasing the accountability of their elected leaders and public officials. Accordingly, support should flow to governments and agencies where leaders are committed to strengthening civilian-led law enforcement, criminal justice systems, and the rule of law.

Most agree on the issues; these are complex problems that require a smart, long term commitment and the political will to change the status quo. We need to also remember that help is not enough. Let’s make sure we send smart help. This is a rare opportunity for the U.S. to lead, improve millions of lives, and increase our standing in Latin America.

This op-ed by Mauricio Vivero , CEO of Seattle International Foundation, which supports worldwide poverty alleviation efforts through grant-making and other activities, with a strategic focus on Central America, appeared  here.

Call for Applications: Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program 2014

The Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program is looking for people who have a commitment to the conservation of the region’s coastal and marine ecosystems to establish a cohort. The thematic focus of this years focus will be Solid Waste Management, special a special emphasis on the Sustainable Materials Management.

To apply, visit and click on “be a leader”, or contact Elisa Lopez Garcia at

Can El Salvador’s private sector play a role in violence prevention?


Gang member paints over graffiti as part of social reintegration program. Photo: EL MUNDO / TULIO GALDÁMEZ

El Salvador is one of the world’s most dangerous nations due to the war between the Mara Salvatrucha 13 and 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18). In March 2012, imprisoned leaders of the two largest street gangs announced a truce, thus leading to the suspension of violent conflicts between the two gangs. The leaders also announced that they would cease-fire in school zones, end forced recruitment, and stop extorting or “taxing” the small businesses that operate in their communities.

Since the truce in 2012, the National Civil Police (PNC) registered 2,675 murders; compared to the 2011 PNC figure of 4,371 homicides, according to EFE news agency. The number of people filed missing decreased as well. However, according to an article, 876 people disappeared in the first quarter of 2012, with more than 600 of those taking place since the truce went into effect. Additionally, the article states that since the truce, gang members have now begun to extort large businesses and prey increasingly on bus drivers and other transportation employees.

Experts say the current truce opens the door to a tremendous opportunity: Salvadoran society, government, private sector, and international donors should move quickly to use the pause in violence to help create social service and job programs in some of the poorest and most gang-ridden communities. Nonetheless, it still remains a challenge for businesses to deliver goods and services to gang-controlled neighborhoods.

Read the rest of this entry »

SIF convenes key leaders to discuss collaboration in the region

Fernando Carrera, Secretary of Planning and Programming (SEGEPLAN) – Government of Guatemala and Helen Mack, Founder of Fundación Myrna Mack participate in the opening plenary on Guatemala at the Central America Donors Forum, held at Microsoft Headquarters on June 19, 2012.

To view photos from this event, click here

On June 19, 2012, over 130 donors and development experts working in Central America gathered at the Microsoft headquarters for SIF’s Central America Donors Forum. This event provided a unique opportunity for learning and deeper engagement on priority issues, successful models, and opportunities for networking and co-investment in the region.

Representatives from the IDB, U.S. Department of State, USAID, foundations, and Central American civil society leaders lead panel discussions around critical issues such as women’s rights, civil security, investing in youth, and opportunities for collaboration. For the complete agenda and list of participants, please click here.

Michael Solis of OYE Adelante Jovenes writes about the event in the Huffington Post Impact Blog:

“At the second annual Central American Donors Forum in Seattle, Julieta Castellanos spoke about the threats facing Central America. Among them, she cited rising homicide rates in what is now considered to be the most dangerous region on earth outside of a warzone. She focused on Honduras, a nation “in crisis” that currently ranks first among the world’s most violent countries….” To read the full article about the event in the HuffPost, click here.

To read about the event on KPLU’s Humanosphere, click here.

About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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