Happy Holidays and Looking Forward to 2017

Team Partners

Dear Partners Friends and Family,

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. No matter where we are located in the hemisphere, or what holiday we celebrate this time of year, the season’s sentiment remains true for us all. The holidays are about being with family, giving thanks for the year we’ve had, and looking forward to the year ahead.

As we at Partners reflect on the year we’ve had, and anticipate 2017, we are grateful to be surrounded by such inclusive, open-minded staff, chapter members, volunteers, and program participants. During a time when the Western Hemisphere is divided by politics and ignorance, Partners brings people together, and builds care and mutual understanding.

Through partnering U.S. states with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for international exchanges and volunteer-based service projects, we aim to foster understanding and respect for other cultures and languages that surround us, with the hope that people grow to feel less isolated from one another.

We are thankful for our volunteer-led chapters, and the work they put into building mutual understanding in their local communities. Throughout 2016, our chapters were more creative and innovative than ever in building a more inclusive hemisphere. Here are a few of our favorite projects:

• Wyoming Partners Chapter member Dorly Piske’s business, Biojewelry for Breast Cancer raised $50,000 from 2009-2016. The funds will be used to provide women in Brazil with access to preventative screening measures.
• Wisconsin Partners donated two fire trucks to Nicaragua’s fire departments. In total, the chapter has donated 30 fire trucks and 28 ambulances.
• Illinois Partners held its 7th Annual Mostra Film Fest, which showcases movies created in Brazil. This year’s theme was women and sports. 
• Ecuadorian artist Enriquestuardo Álvarez held an art exhibit in Kentucky through a Kentucky-Ecuador artist exchange.  Álvarez creates lifelike paintings depicting the history of the Cherokee tribe in Kentucky, using doors as his canvas.

Partners’ programs also continue to grow and thrive, and you can read about their past work in our Annual Report. As we anticipate 2017, we look forward to what lies ahead:

• Continuing its 25-year tradition, Partners' Farmer-to-Farmer program will send 130 expert volunteers to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere to work with farmers, cooperatives, agribusinesses, and more, directly assisting over 14,000 people.
• At the closing of 2016, the Nutrition Security Program improved maternal and child health in Haiti by educating 59 health promoters, who trained 2,237 Mother Leaders in infant and young child nutrition, who reach pregnant and lactating women in 25,531 households.

100,000 Strong in the Americas expects another exciting year of building study abroad partnerships as we launch 4-6 grant competitions and host 3 capacity-building workshops throughout the Americas.
• December 19 marked the deadline to apply for the 2017 Capacity Building Grants for U.S. Undergraduate Study Abroad. Winning institutions will be announced in May.
 For its third year, Partners' Panama Teacher Match program will be sending 18-20 U.S. English teachers abroad in summer 2017 to train and coach Panamanian English teachers in public schools.
• In support of the Paraguayan government's commitment to combat child labor in Paraguay, the Paraguay Okakuaa project, funded by the USDOL, will begin the provision of services to project beneficiaries in 2017. The project will target a total of 2,890 children and adolescents and 1,350 households in the next three years.
• The EducaFuturo project, funded by USDOL, which provided education, vocational training and livelihood activities, to 4,597 children, 1,319 youth and 1,675 households in Ecuador and Panama, will come to a close in 2017. 
We look forward to convening over 50 PartnersCampus leaders from all 10 of our student chapters for the 2017 What Works! Conference and Youth Leadership Retreat in Medellin, Colombia.
• Partners' Youth Ambassadors (YA) program will send its 3rd delegation of YA’s from the U.S. to Colombia, and welcome its 6th delegation from Colombia and 11th from Venezuela to the U.S.
• In 2016, Partners awarded 53 Travel Grants, with 29 LAC participants traveling to the U.S. and 24 U.S. participants traveling to LAC. In 2017, we aim to fund 66 new Travel Grants, strengthening educational and cultural exchanges and providing training and resources to local communities.
• Partners’ A Ganar program and ESPN will jointly launch new sport courts in Bogota, Colombia and Sao Paulo, Brazil, reaching 50 local youth. We will also work with over 500 youth in Barbados and Bolivia.

Partners’ chapter members and programs have shown that we do not have to live with invisible barriers between us. When we connect and serve, we can change lives. And it happens by joining together.

Our best holiday wishes,

- Team Partners