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The Puente Model

We believe community development should be led by those with most at stake: the residents. Our community leadership training program gives Dominican residents the knowledge, experience, and tools they need to make a difference in their own backyards. Over the course of four weeks, program participants define community development, learn survey methodology, practice data collection, and understand how to plan and implement projects. Participants who demonstrate commitment to the cause and course proficiency graduate as Puente volunteers.

Armed with data collection knowledge, Puente volunteers use their newfound skills in their very own communities. Using the Puente application, volunteers survey residents in order to understand what needs and resources exist. Our standard Puente survey collects data about a household’s demographics, environmental conditions, such as access to water, and context within the community’s ecosystem. Our experts analyze the data volunteers collect to prioritize the greatest need, and we work alongside our Puente volunteers to create project ideas that address this need.

Once we finalize a clear project plan, Puente activates our mission-aligned partners to fund proposals to bring volunteers’ project ideas to life. Volunteers apply what they learned about project implementation in our training program to their very own project plans, making a real impact in local communities.

Puente-Model

1. Train local residents in community development and data collection

2. Collect data by surveying target communities with the Puente app

3. Analyze + map data in real-time to find and prioritize needs

4. Plan projects and activate mission-aligned partners to fund proposals

5. Monitor impact by re-surveying communities to track key indicators

Signature Projects

Puente cares deeply about the real impact of our platform. We have trained 27 community residents how to use the Puente application to survey and understand the needs of target communities within the Dominican Republic. But, our model would be incomplete without addressing the urgent needs that this data reveals. As a nonprofit, we’re able to leverage our network of partners and take action when lives can be changed or saved. We seek funding to support community projects that are data-driven, community-led, and collaborative.

The data we’ve collected from thousands of surveys tells us that individuals consistently experience several key health and wellness challenges due to their environment. While we will create and fund any project in response to new data, we have developed five signature Puente projects that address common community needs. In addition to providing health infrastructure, our signature projects also include health and sanitation training to teach families how to integrate healthy choices into all aspects of their lives.

Puente Potties

A staggering 16% of Dominican residents still lack access to proper sanitation facilities, including toilets and latrines. Access to a sanitary toilet is not only a basic human right, but it also prevents critical illnesses, such as chronic diarrhea, enabling individuals to lead healthy lives. Our bathrooms project aims to improve this health infrastructure problem in the most vulnerable communities by providing residents with high-quality latrines. We use the Puente application to identify the number of households who lack access to a bathroom or latrine, as well as related health conditions that could be due to a lack of proper sanitation facilities. We then build high-quality latrines for these same families, directly boosting each individual’s quality of life.

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Our Impact

"Puente has helped me create change in my home community, using the resources that are available to us. I never knew my community was so rich in natural resources! Thanks to Puente, my community now has many things that make it better, including bathrooms, cement floors, and water filters" -Pedro, Puente Volunteer

9,200

Residents Surveyed

1,960

Individuals Educated

528

Projects Completed

1,954

Lives Changed

COVID-19 Response

Our mission to use data to make a difference is more important than ever. In the Dominican Republic, many families lack the health infrastructure necessary to lead healthy lives on a good day. During the COVID-19 crisis, these same families are particularly vulnerable to infection. Puente data pinpoints the gaps in health resources, such as running water, needed to fight the spread of COVID-19. To support the health and well-being of individuals across the Dominican Republic, we have deployed the following initiatives in direct response to COVID-19:

Hand-washing Stations

Hand-washing is one of the most effective methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, without access to a consistent source of running water, it can be difficult to practice hand-washing effectively. Since March, Puente has distributed more than 150 hand-washing stations in the Dominican Republic to tackle this issue head-on. In order to maximize our impact, Puente volunteers identified high-traffic areas, such as grocery stores and clinics, to place the stations so that individuals can properly wash their hands before interacting with others. Finally, as part of our maintenance plan, we regularly disinfect the hand-washing stations so that they can continue to do their job.

Personal Protective Equipment

It is critical that medical professionals and other frontline workers are protected against COVID-19 while on-duty, so that they can continue to give lifesaving care to infected individuals. In response to the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), Puente has distributed more than 1,000 pieces of PPE to essential workers, including hospital staff and sanitation workers. Equipped with N95 masks, gloves, and more, frontline staff throughout the Dominican Republic have been able to safely continue their line of work.

Emergency Food Kits

In order to respond to families’ basic needs during the pandemic, Puente has distributed over 100 emergency food and supply kits to families in the Dominican Republic. Our kits contain essential items, including Dominican food staples, health supplies, and toiletries. Using Puente technology, we identify families that do not qualify for government assistance and might otherwise lack access to food and other essential items. Our emergency supply kits allow these same families to stay nourished, healthy, and safe amidst the challenges of the pandemic.

Financial Aid

At Puente, we know that the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis extend beyond just staying healthy. Many individuals in the Dominican Republic are experiencing job insecurity as a result of the pandemic; others face unexpected and steep medical expenses after contracting COVID-19. In recognition of this financial hardship, we have distributed over $1,000 USD in direct financial aid to our volunteers and their families to help keep them afloat during this uncertain time.