SAN DIEGO, California — On Jan. 19, 2021, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) shared that they will be awarding a total of $2.4 million to nine different recipients for the BetterTogether/JuntosEsMejor Challenge. The challenge’s purpose is to develop social programs and facilitate partnerships that support Venezuelans to build a more inclusive and prosperous future. The awards given by the two aid organizations went to Venezuelans within the country as well as Venezuelans throughout Latin America. Below are the award recipients, along with details about them and their missions.
Incluyeme.com: Inclusion of People with Disabilities
To support Venezuelans with disabilities, one of the awards was granted to incluyeme.com. Incluyeme is a foundation that works to help people with disabilities throughout Latin America find employment. It also provides workshops for companies and raises awareness of disability unemployment. Gabriel Marcolongo founded the website in 2013 after watching his disabled, but exceedingly qualified and competent, father struggle to find employment while growing up.
Since its inception, Gabriel’s initiative has helped employ more than 2,000 people. The website has also developed connections with dozens of well-known companies such as Ford, Walmart, Coca-Cola and Unilever. With the money awarded by USAID and the IDB, Incluyeme will continue helping the disabled, thereby playing a role in mitigating the harm caused by the Venezuelan migration crisis.
National Coordinating Coalition
The National Coordinating Coalition (NCC), a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formed in 1999 to develop a national response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Guyana, received one of the awards. With these funds, the NCC will improve upon its digital platform to develop cross-country partnerships that lead to successful resettlements to support Venezuelan migrants.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HAIS) received one of the awards to help support its work in Panamá. More specifically, the award will go toward starting a program that will educate men and boys about gender violence. It promotes behavioral changes to reduce violence against Venezuelan women and girls, promoting healthier social growth in the midst of the migration crisis.
Needslist: Coordinating Humanitarian Aid
One of the awards also went to Needslist. Needslist is an app that the two founders, Natasha Freidus and Amanda Levinson, developed in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Described originally as a “wedding registry for humanitarian aid,” the platform now provides a means for donors, whether individual or corporate, to assist NGOs who share their needs on the app. This ultimately leads to more efficient and transparent humanitarian responses. With the award, Needslist will work on scaling up its operations to accommodate the needs of Venezuelan migrant communities in Perú.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group associated with the famous kids’ show Sesame Street, was another recipient who will use the award to support Venezuelans in Perú positively. With the award, Sesame Workshop will further its mission of educating young children. Providing access to a free digital learning platform will greatly reduce developmental barriers for Venezuelan children and families who are on the move and impacted by COVID-19.
Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago
In the southernmost Caribbean country, the Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago also received one of the awards. It will use the funding to operate the first-ever after-hours, free hotline that is bilingual and will support Venezuelans that have fled to the island nation as well as all survivors of gender violence in Trinidad and Tobago. The NGO provides a myriad of other crucial services to gender violence victims as well, such as counseling and support groups along with awareness-raising programs and workshops.
Together WI Foundation
Another group that received an award in Trinidad and Tobago is the Together WI Foundation. The foundation works to raise awareness for gender violence and sexual harassment toward women through campaigns and events. The Together WI Foundation will use USAID’s and the IDB’s award to help Venezuelan women find employment within the garment-making industry.
Award Recipients In Venezuela
Awards also went to two different recipients inside Venezuela, who will bring critically important services to communities suffering from the crisis. However, the press releases from both USAID and the IDB did not go as far as to share any details about them.
Why the BetterTogether/JuntosEsMejor Challenge Matters
With the $2.4 million distributed by the IDB and USAID, several life-changing programs across Latin America are able to relieve some of the effects of Venezuela’s crisis. Considering this, USAID’s funding and the difference it can make shows the importance of protecting the foreign affairs budget and making a strong effort to fight poverty around the world. Many of these programs will improve the economies of countries abroad and provide humanitarian relief to those in crisis.
Ultimately, much of USAID’s and the IDB’s mission serves as a more affordable, peaceful and wholesome solution to problems happening worldwide while also providing a potential return of investment in the long run. All in all, the BetterTogether/JuntosEsMejor Challenge and the money it has provided has made and will continue to make substantial and meaningful impacts. Therefore, supporting Venezuelans in need across Latin America serves as a strong example of why USAID and a well-funded foreign affairs budget are essential.
– Sean Kenney