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Fast for Hope Click here for Printable version

Rotary District 5960 Chair Dave Newman EMAIL Dave

The Fast for Hope Initiative is based on the belief that while project based funding is critical to address immediate needs in developing parts of the world, a new model needs to be created in order to more effectively address the problem of systemic poverty in the world. This new model is based on a belief that the local community knows best what they need and that the community must take ownership of any solution in order for it to be successful. Finally instead of doing a project in multiple communities, this is intended to be a multifaceted effort simultaneously addressing the myriad of needs that are interconnected and which cause the residents of one or two particular communities to live in extreme poverty.

Goal is to create a replicable and sustainable model to address extreme poverty in the developing world. Base in part on the book The End of Poverty which maintains we are the first generation with the ability to end extreme poverty in the world. The premise is that this cannot be achieved by doing projects. Rather we need to work on a community wide basis addressing the myriad of issues that cause a community to be in extreme poverty and that once the community achieves a basic level of economic success than they can continue to grow without further assistance. The issues will vary community to community, but may include lack of access to education, lack of access to transportation and markets, limited experience organizing as a community, culture of dependence on charity.
In 2015, with assistance from a District Grant, El Corozo: 


Started in 2007. Reading books, attending lectures and seminars, traveling, interviewing different organizations and trial and error.
Want to deliver service in a new way. Not the typical grant model, though that has been employed in parallel with individual capacity building in the community.
Decided to partner with Kairos (Elena Hendrick is the coordinator) in Managua, Nicaragua. They were selected in part because of their willingness to design a program that was consistent with our vision and their welcoming us to be equal partners as opposed to other organizations who wanted us to adopt to their model or only wanted us for our money.
We wanted to be able to bring Rotarians into the country to experience life in the community firsthand and to create personal relationships with members of the community.
A key to our approach is to build relationships before we build stuff.
Part of what creates sustainability is building capacity of the residents of El Corozo. Historically communities organize around the family so little experience organizing as a community, how to call meetings, how to make group decisions, how to elect leaders, how to reach consensus, how to organize into different work groups, how to raise funds.
Because of the extreme poverty there has become a culture of dependence, to seek help from others and to follow the directions of government leaders. Important for the community to realize that their voice, thoughts and dreams matter.
Invited El Corozo, Nicaragua to join us in this initiative in spring 2012. Efforts really started to get underway in fall 2012



  • Started a reading project. Like a book mobile but in homes. Run by volunteers.   Parents are hesitant but children are excited to be able to read.
  • Pharmacy – We purchase two advanced first aid kits. Several community members completed training. Community now trying to determine where they should be located and how much to charge so that supplies can be replaced.
  • Road. The road is impassible during the raining season and hardly useable during the dry season. About 3.2 miles in length. The road is used to attend High School, to get to work, to conduct trade, for medical care, etc. The road serving the community is in two municipalities. After about a year of effort, the two mayors agreed to conduct a survey of the road. They then promised to design the road and to prepare a cost estimate. They promised to have this done by the end of June 2015, but have failed to do so. The community is in regular contact with the mayors, the respective municipal councils and other government agencies to remind them of the promises and to advocate for the completion of the studies. While that has been very frustrating, it has been an opportunity for the community to learn how to advocate for themselves. This is a major accomplishment. It is also important to remember that while by our standards things seem to be moving slowly, we also need to remind ourselves how long it would take to build a new road in our country, if we were starting at the initial concept stage.
  • The community has a laptop computer so they can more easily communicate with the outside world.
  • The community has incorporated in their curriculum a program on entrepreneurship. This is for the upper grades of the elementary school and is in its second year.
  •  Opportunity International is an international organization focused on micro-lending, but in Nicaragua they are exploring a new approach to improving the agricultural practices of poor rural farmers and in providing them with alternative markets for their products.
We are developing a program of formal evaluation.
  • It is easy to evaluate projects, the difficulty is in evaluating building human skills and capacity.
  • We participated in a class on evaluation conducted by the Acumen Fund. We complained to them that they were only tracking projects, not the building of human capacity. While we don’t take responsibility for it, six months later Acumen changed their model of evaluation to include capacity building. See attachment.
  • We have seen this new approach as one that is being adopted by many service organizations in the past year or two.
  • In Rotary we have relied on a grant project model with an emphasis on process rather than evaluating the effectiveness of the outcome. It is hoped that what we have learned about the evaluation process can be replicated in other Rotary activities.
We knew this would be a learning process. From the beginning one of our goals was to learn from our experiences and to then modify our work plan accordingly.
  • The Aspen Institute has been reporting on Complex Adaptive Systems. “They are emergent and self-organizing. They learn from experience and from internal communication, and they change and adapt over time. Feedback and communication across the parts of the system is vitally important to these functions. They do not have a command center which directs all agents; instead, control is distributed throughout the system. What matters is not the individual parts that make up the Complex Adaptive System, but the relationship between the pieces.”   This is very descriptive of the system that has been created by the Nicaragua Initiative.

Larger lessons.
  • Celebrate the small wins. While the lack of progress on the road is frustrating, if we take the time to pause and reflect, there is much to celebrate.
  • Progress is not always easy to see. As people build capacity and learn skills, it is often hard to see and to measure, even though this is where real and sustainable progress occurs.
  • We will make mistakes, but we will also learn from the experience.
  • We need to be patient. In our culture we expect immediate results, but as we work to assist other cultures to learn and adapt, this takes time.
How can you participate?
  • Participate in a cultural delegation. Any Rotarian can participate and spouses and significant others are also often invited. You will have an opportunity to meet the people, to see the country, to learn about the history and to see the work you are helping to fund.
  • Continue to provide financial support. This effort is not funded through the Foundation. (At the same time, Fast for Hope has successfully applied for and received District Grant Funds.)
  • Share the attached reading list with members of your club.
  • Have members of the Fast for Hope Steering Committee present to your club.
For more information, you can contact the Fast for Hope Chair, Dave Newman dave@bancorgroup.com 
For a presentation about Fast for Hope to your club contact Ed Marek henakaga@yahoo.com

If you want to learn more about the philosophy behind this initiative, you may find some of the books below of interest:
·       The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
·       The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz
·       Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
·       A Country under My Skin by Gioconda Belli
·       Bridging the Class Divide by Linda Stout
·       Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
·       Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson
·       Collective Visioning by Linda Stout
·       Poor Economics by Abhlijit Banerjee
·       Blood of Brothers by Stephen Kinzer
·       Culture Matter: How Values Shape Human Progress by Lawrence E. Harrison
·       If I Had A Water Buffalo by Marilyn Fitzgerald
Find Me Unafraid, Love, Loss and Hope in an African Slum, by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner


 CLICK HERE for the application for the Cultural Delegation.
 CLICK HERE for the 2014-15 Fast for Hope Booklet
 CLICK HERE for the 2015-2016 Fast for Hope Presentation (PDF)