Taking Action For Puerto Rico's Renewal

unnamed (5).png

#CommittedtoPR In the six months since hurricanes Irma and Maria changed everything for Puerto Rico, many hard lessons have been learned. The most relevant perhaps, is that recovery is not given, it doesn’t just happen. It is earned through sweat and tears, through diligence and drive, through collective communication and collaboration. Your ongoing support allows us to continue to stay the course, helping build coalition and capacity in advance of the upcoming hurricane season and for the long haul.

unnamed (6).png

ConPRmetidos recently led a delegation of over 30 Puerto Rican leaders to New Orleans to meet key actors and organizations behind the city’s remarkable recovery after hurricane Katrina. In partnership with the non-profit organization Friends of New Orleans, and sponsored by the Skip Battle Foundation, island leaders from across various sectors -- from academia to tech, from foundations to healthcare, from community empowerment to venture capital -- were able to directly engage with counterparts in New Orleans who knew exactly what they were facing, what post-hurricane trauma feels like, and what it takes to move forward. It was sobering, it was hopeful, and it was reaffirming to the commitment shared by millions that a better Puerto Rico can emerge out of Maria’s devastation.


unnamed NOLA.png
 Kristin Gisleson Palmer (center), New Orleans City Councilperson District “C” and former Executive Director, Rebuilding Together New Orleans, speaks to delegation from Puerto Rico at a Preservation Resource Center warehouse.

Kristin Gisleson Palmer (center), New Orleans City Councilperson District “C” and former Executive Director, Rebuilding Together New Orleans, speaks to delegation from Puerto Rico at a Preservation Resource Center warehouse.

#LessonsLearned New Orleans, similar to Puerto Rico, faced critical challenges exacerbated by the hurricane Katrina's aftermath: limited government capability, growing crime-rate, pervasive corruption, acute socio-economic inequality, a deficient public education system, environmental abuse....

The experience in revitalizing New Orleans -- complete with failures and mistakes, as well as successes and luck -- has provided critical lessons for the island’s recovery and development: (1) it is crucial to listen to our communities to directly and equitably address their reconstruction needs; (2) local businesses and social entrepreneurs are key economic drivers that must be championed; (3) universities must play an important role attracting innovation, volunteers and new talent; (4) media must play a major role in driving the recovery story and exposing abuse and corruption;(5) transparency, accountability and citizen participation must permeate all recovery efforts; (6) and that we need to advocate for inclusive public policies that can reverse institutionalized inequality.

unnamed (7).png

ConPRmetidos has synthesized the lessons learned by the island’s delegation in New Orleans into a publicly available document: Post-Maria Recovery: Lessons and Recommendations from Post-Katrina New Orleans

Taking cue from these lessons, a collective of local organizations that were part of the NOLA delegation -- including Parallel 18Colmena 66 and Centro Para Emprendedores -- have committed to producing Puerto Rico’s first entrepreneurship week in November, a budding example of local entrepreneurship as economic driver.

Similarly, Foundation for Puerto Rico and ConPRmetidos jointly hosted the Six Months After Maria Forum on March 20, featuring a panel discussion that dived into the post-Katrina lesson of the importance of unified advocacy efforts and a unified political agenda: 

  • Andy W. Kopplin, President of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, who served as First Deputy Mayor of New Orleans and as Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority post-Katrina, strongly advised Puerto Rico's leaders to establish bipartisan alliances and organize the island’s diaspora to aggressively advocate for federal help.
  • Robin Barnes, Executive Vice President of GNO, Inc. expressly noted the urgency of identifying and channeling federal funding that can help on-the-ground organizations in Puerto Rico maximize their resources, and the importance of establishing a positive and galvanizing new narrative of the island’s future. 
 Former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, with Mili Landrón (l) and Isabel Rullán (r) of ConPRmetidos.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, with Mili Landrón (l) and Isabel Rullán (r) of ConPRmetidos.

On March 22 and 23, ConPRmetidos joined former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a group of 25 former federal government staffers for two days of community-led action to repair and refresh areas of two public schools in Cataño, where almost 90% of the students live below the poverty line.

A special ¡gracias! to Yoobi, which provided classroom materials for 700 students, and to Walmart Puerto Rico, which donated two playground sets to replace ones lost to Maria. ConPRmetidos is further helping these schools by covering termite extermination costs, replacing damaged ceiling panels and looking for ways to solve problematic, rooftop water leaks.

Video Credit: Tito Román Rivera

This joint effort is emblematic of how impactful a helping hand can be to community leaders -- like those in Cataño -- who are rebuilding their communities from the children and vulnerable up. They don’t have easy access to resources, but they don’t give up, they act. They solve. They drive forward as if the future depends on it… because it does.

By enabling a few dozen extra hands and providing tools and materials needed for their self-determined recovery efforts, ConPRmetidos helps an entire community develop capacity and confidence.

unnamed (9).png

Thanks to the support of over 17,000 awesome donors like YOU, we've been able to directly impact the lives of thousands of people across the island during the past six months. As Puerto Rico progresses along the long road of recovery and rebuilding, we continue to count on your generosity and goodwill for the people of Puerto Rico.

To learn more about different ways you can continue helping Puerto Rico, visit: www.conprmetidos.org or click on the button below. 

Miguel Ferrer