Learning Tour in Puerto Rico

Jointly Sponsored by Environmental Grantmakers Association and Neighborhood Funders Group

Puerto Rico’s rich cultural, community, and environmental landscape offer significant opportunities for defining innovative solutions that advance equity and resilience. Decades of inequitable development patterns coupled with urgent climate change and economic threats have reaffirmed the need for new public, private, philanthropic and civil society partnerships that prioritize the needs of the island’s low-income communities. Against this backdrop, community based organizations across the island are forging new community development tools and civic engagement strategies to promote equitable development, resilience, transparency and accountability.

Join the Environmental Grantmakers Association and Neighborhood Funders Group on a two-day learning tour of the areas surrounding San Juan, during which funders and advocates will ask:

  • How are community-based organizations from multiple sectors organizing to address the challenge of inequality on the island?
  • What strategies are Puerto Rico-based community organizations using to advance inclusive and sustainable development?
  • How can grantmakers foster and promote increased philanthropic, public and private sector collaboration and accountability to accelerate inclusive planning and more equitable economic development policies and practices?

The tour will begin early the first morning, and close late the following day. Lodging information is below. Please write to us at nfg@nfg.org with any questions.

*The Environmental Grantmakers Association will host a bio-diversity learning tour in Vieques, on Saturday, November 15th. The group will depart San Juan together on the evening of November 14th. If you are interested in joining that tour, please write to EGA at aharms@ega.org.

Registration rate: $200. Registration cost covers food and ground transportation during the tour. Participants are expected to cover their own airfare and lodging expenses. Please register in the form at the bottom of this page. If you have any difficulties, please write to us at nfg@nfg.org.

Hotel Information

We will be staying at the Sheraton Old San Juan. The group rate has ended. The hotel is selling out fast, and we recommend that you reserve your room immeditately. To make reservations:

1) call the Hotel’s Reservations Department at (787) 289- 1914, or

2) reserve via email at reservations@sheratonoldsanjuan.com,, or

3) reserve a room online, go to Sheraton Old San Juan

Each guest must provide a major credit card upon booking the reservation. A non-refundable one night deposit of room, tax and hotel fee will be charged upon booking the reservation. 

Please also email us at nfg@nfg.org to let us know that you reserved a room.

Agenda Overview

November 12th: Evening Welcome Reception
at Paseo de la Princesa, Old San Juan

Please join the Neighborhood Funders Group, the Environmental Grantmakers Association, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for a reception to welcome you to San Juan.

We will begin the tour bright and early the following morning.

Day One – November 13th

Breakfast and the opening panel discussion will be hosted by Banco Popular Foundation.

Opening Panel Discussion: Puerto Rico at a Crossroads: Reflections on Inequality and Development in Puerto Rico

The opening plenary discussion will engage a diverse panel of leading public sector, academic and non-profit stakeholders in an interactive discussion of some of the major macroeconomic, environmental and development challenges facing Puerto Rico.  How are diverse sectors addressing the twin challenges of sustainability and inequality in Puerto Rico?  What are the prospects for advancing more inclusive development in Puerto Rico?

Morning Learning Tour: Caguas, Puerto Rico
From Displacement to Inclusion: Reimagining Public Housing and Community Development in Puerto Rico
Tour and Panel Discussion, Gautier Benítez Public Housing Project, Caguas, Puerto Rico

Over the past thirty years, residents of both the Gautier Benítez and the Las Gladiolas Public Housing Projects have battled displacement by developers seeking lower density projects and higher profits.  Residents across the island have used diverse legal advocacy and community organizing tactics to claim their right to participate in the redevelopment of their communities.  Traveling from San Juan to Caguas, this tour will engage residents, advocates, and local small business leaders from both communities in a discussion of the link between public housing reform, economic development and place based change in these two communities.

Afternoon Learning Tour: Adjuntas, Puerto Rico
Balancing Justice, Development, and the Environment: Lessons from Puerto Rico’s Environmental Justice Movements

Traveling to the heart of the island’s Central Mountain Range,  this tour will visit the Bosque del Pueblo (People’s Forest), and include a conversation with leaders of Vieques and of Casa Pueblo, Adjuntas - the heart of social movements in Puerto Rico for several decades.  In Adjuntas, the environmental movement against the threat of copper mining in the 1960s eventually led to the creation of Casa Pueblo and the Bosque del Pueblo, the first community-managed forest in Puerto Rico.  Casa Pueblo has since developed successful economic development and educational projects, and organized in opposition of a gas pipeline that would have caused irreparable damage to ecosystems and rural settlements alike.  Today, they lead the proposal to create a model forest covering several municipalities.  The successful closure of the US military base in Vieques was one of the most important social movement in recent Puerto Rican history, bringing together multiple sectors of civil society. Vieques now faces gentrification, while still struggling for the clean-up of the former military practice range, just economic development, and access to basic services.  

We will return to San Juan for dinner.

Day Two: November 14

Morning Learning Tour: Pinones, Puerto Rico

From Contamination to Resilience: A Guided Tour of the ENLACE Caño Martín Peña Project
Featuring Introductory Remarks from Judith A. Enck, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 Office, and an overview by ENLACE’s executive director.

This half day workshop will include a boat tour through lagoons and channels of the eastern Estuary, and a walking tour through streets and allies to Martín Peña, and will join community leaders and some of their partners.

The Caño Martín Peña is a 3.75 mile natural tidal channel in the San Juan Bay Estuary, heavily contaminated and clogged with sediment and debris.  Frequent flooding of untreated sewage water threatens the livelihood and health of over 25,000 residents living in eight low-income informal settlements along the waterway, located next to San Juan’s financial district.  The Martín Peña communities are the first community land trust in Puerto Rico, created to avoid gentrification, address the lack of land titling through collective ownership, secure affordable housing, and overcome poverty. The ENLACE Project is a comprehensive endeavor that seeks environmental and social justice through Strong community organizing, unprecedented participatory planning, and effective partnerships characterize.

Afternoon Closing Discussion:

Funding Community Engagement to Advance Equity: Lessons Learned from Philanthropic Leaders in Puerto Rico and the United States

*The Environmental Grantmakers Association will host a bio-diversity learning tour in Vieques, on Saturday, November 15th. The group will depart San Juan together on the evening of November 14th. If you are interested in joining that tour, please write to EGA at aharms@ega.org.

Please register in the form below. If you have any difficulties, please write to us at nfg@nfg.org.

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