Pangea Giving: Funding Social Justice Around the World

From left: Jesús Tecú Osorio, founder of New Hope Foundation in Guatemala, with Pangea Giving member, Audrey Shiffman, in the Rio Negro Valley of the Rabinal municipality, where massive genocide took place between 1980 and 1982. His organization is supporting the Achi Maya people in preserving their culture and native language by educating and helping youth find a secure place in the larger society. (Pangea Giving photo by Betsy Hale)

Seattle can sometimes feel far away from the global issues of the world, especially while we are hunkered down in the cold, grey dampness of a Pacific Northwest winter. And our best efforts to support positive change in the world aren’t always satisfied by writing another check to a large and impersonal organization.

Pangea Giving was founded after 9/11, to encourage like-minded citizen philanthropists to connect and grow in our understanding of the world, and support committed local leaders who are working to bring change to their communities in the Global South. Members and other friends of Pangea combine their donations each year, and award them to grass-roots community organizations involved in such areas as children’s educational success, improving livelihood opportunities, women’s reproductive health, and high-yield sustainable agriculture. 

Unlike many large institutional donors, Pangea does not come with its own silver bullet agenda, but rather listens to and supports what communities say they need. Our partner organizations are clustered in three areas: Southeast Asia, Latin America and East Africa. Pangea members in Seattle learn about the specific challenges in each region, manage the grant making process, and coordinate every-other-year site visits to each group.

This month, Pangea Giving will award almost $120,000 to a total of 18 partner organizations. Close to 10,000 program participants are expected to benefit as a result. Most of our partners are small emerging community groups who are able to leverage their Pangea grants to grow into stable and sustainable organizations that continue long after the average five-year Pangea grant support cycle. Many of these organizations continue on as friends of our organization, collaborate with other partners, and recommend new partners. In this way, the relationships continue and the cycle of community improvement grows.

Women from Leitak, a remote mountain village in Chin State, Myanmar. Their community benefits from the work of Chin Women’s Empowerment Group, which is funded by Pangea Giving. (Pangea Giving photos by Fred Mohr)

In Southeast Asia, Pangea currently partners with six organizations in Myanmar and Cambodia. The Chin Women’s Empowerment Group, located in a remote ethnic minority area of Myanmar, for example, promotes gender equality by providing gender awareness training and the development of marketable skills for local women. As a result, their children have better access to education, and better nutrition because of diversity of diet and stronger family units. Their most recent project is starting a Women’s Development Resource Center in Hakha.

There are six Pangea partner organizations in Latin America, four in Guatemala and two in Oaxaca, Mexico. All of the groups are comprised of indigenous people who are addressing the issues and challenges of their communities. New Hope Foundation in Guatemala describes its mission this way: “We revalue the culture and historical truth, contributing to the balanced, fair and solid development of the municipality of Rabinal through bilingual intercultural education with methodology that promotes the person, community, equality, respect and values of the Achi Maya people.” In preserving the Mayan culture and native language, it also supports the most vulnerable poor families as they struggle to find a secure place in the larger society.

Wendo Aszed, director of Dandelion Africa addresses hundreds in the rural Kenyan community of Lomolo, who declared their village an FGM free zone in November 2015, and has had no new cases of FGM reported since. (Pangea Giving photo by Dennis Wackerbarth)

In East Africa, Pangea has been working with three Kenyan organizations, and one each in Tanzania and Burundi. Dandelion Africa is located outside Nakuru in the central Rift Valley of Kenya. Dandelion’s Girls for Leaders program, funded solely by Pangea, has been one of their most dramatic successes. This program gives rural, marginalized middle-school aged girls the opportunity to continue their education successfully beyond primary grades by interrupting the cycle of  Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), school drop out, and early marriage. Using parent involvement, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, and mentoring in “high demand” school clubs, the participating 5 villages reported no cases of FGM in 2016 and the 8 schools involved had the highest test scores in Kenya. In 2017, they will be reaching nearly 900 girls in 15 schools and nurturing a complementary Boys for Change program demanded by the boys.  This year the Kenyan Ministry of Education has expressed interest in replicating Dandelion’s program in other areas of Kenya.

For a complete listing and more information about all of Pangea’s partner organizations, please go to our website grantmaking pages: Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa. Or better yet, email us at info@pangeagiving.org, and we’ll connect you with a Pangea member over coffee to learn more about our unique collective giving model. Information sessions are scheduled periodically and can also be found on the website.

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