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With the U.S-Mexico border being such a hot political topic today in the media, it can be difficult to find good news about US-Mexico relations. But the nonprofit U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership (BPP) is seeking to change this perception through their efforts to promote philanthropy and collaboration on both sides of one of the busiest borders in the world.
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Learn more about the Border Philanthropy Partnership.
BPP was started in 2008 in San Diego by a cluster of binational community foundations including the locally based San Diego Foundation and the International Community Foundation. BPP supports a network of organizations that build prosperity through leadership, collaboration, and philanthropy in the U.S.-Mexico Border region. Today, the network includes nearly 300 organizations from academia, business and corporate partners, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and foundations along and across the 2,000 mile border from San Diego/Tijuana to Brownsville/Matamoros.
BPP promotes teamwork in a variety of ways, whether its hosting seminars to increase understanding of cross-cultural communication, working with the Border Health Commission on health initiatives, or hosting panel discussions on concerns specific to the border region. They also run a variety of programs, including the Family Asset Building Program, (FAB) which helps low-income families and communities transition out of poverty, and Frontera Vibrante, an exhibit of images of border communities created by regional artists.
“It’s kind of a unique organization in that it’s both a US and Mexican 501c3, which is very unusual and allows us to assist other organizations in their international philanthropy activities,” said board member and original BPP board chair Russell Jones. Although traditionally Mexico is very philanthropically inclined, said Jones, it tends to be more individual and person-to-person rather than the organized philanthropy you find in the US. As a result, BPP seeks to develop organized philanthropy on the Mexican side.
BPP also promotes collaboration on environmental issues along the border. “We have this event called Kid’s Ocean Day. It was February 26th last year,” said I Love a Clean San Diego executive director Pauline Martinson, whose organization has been a member of BPP since 2014. “We made it a binational event, and we brought out about a thousand San Diego kids from Title One schools, and in Tijuana we brought out about 350 high school students from Tijuana high schools. Border Philanthropy Partnership was really helpful in our efforts to secure permits on the [Mexican] side as well as to recruit high school students. It was a really memorable event for us and a step toward our work with binational issues–pollution has no boundaries and really involving youth to understand that concept.”
Carmen Amigon, senior vice president of Achieve Programs for Community HousingWorks, (CHW) a nonprofit that provides housing and financial stability for those in need, has found BPP useful to her organization in a variety of ways for more than a decade. “Border Philanthropy Partnership has been very instrumental in providing technical assistance, helping us coordinate conferences, [and] being able to share best practices in the industry,” Amigon said. BPP has also assisted CHW with translation of documents from English into Spanish as well as providing administrative and technical support.
Amigon also noted that partnership between the two countries, which BPP seeks to facilitate, is more important than ever. “Being in San Diego, we’re affected by the economic changes, or impacts, on both sides of the border,” she said. “It really affects us all, because we have many families that reside within Tijuana that come and work here, or vice versa, and we’re all dependent on a variety of the trade and the businesses on both sides of the border.”
BPP’s impact is felt in many ways. Since 2008, they have provided education and training for more than 8,500 nonprofit and philanthropic leaders in the U.S. and Mexico on governance issues, resource development, volunteer mobilization, communications, cross-cultural understanding, social media, fiscal and legal requirements, program development, and fundamentals of nonprofit management. Additionally, BPP has provided organizational coaching to over 120 nonprofit organizations, and provide over US$150,000 in technical assistance grants to network members. BPP also provides fiscal agency services to organizations and programs needing to legally transfer charitable gifts on either side of the border. To date, BPP has legally transferred over US$1.2 million in support of child services, the environment, health, public policy advocacy, and recreation.
BPP is the only group along the 2,000-mile border that unites a vibrant network of leaders and organizations who are making a difference. That makes it the most important vehicle in the Southwest to ensure that the Border Region maintains a constant and assertive voice in its own affairs, shaping the region’s policies –and shaping the destiny of its people.
To learn more about BPP click here.