From the beginning, our mission has been to support equality in underserved communities. We have a core belief that in a world dominated by enormous gaps between the rich and poor, it is crucial to support empowered communities who can develop and sustain programs that help close that gap. We collaborate with communities and other non-profits, acting as bridge between national best practices and the communities who know what programs are needed the most.
Once we have shown the success of a demonstration project, we work with the community and our other partners to secure long-term funding. The community then owns the program.
When we first began our initial Marketplace Programs, targeted at improving financial literacy among adults, we had mixed results. Based on feedback from community members of inner city neighborhoods, we redirected our programming efforts toward urban, elementary school children. What local leaders told us was that 3rd graders in poor communities know much more about money than most adults think and they are still at an age when compassion is important to them. At the time, teaching financial literacy to 3rd grade children was controversial. Now however, it is widely supported by academic research and public policy. What makes our approach distinct is that we offer customized curriculum, relevant to the lives and experience of low-income neighborhoods. Our programs are created with the full participation of teachers, school staff and parents so that each school addresses its specific strengths and needs and our program is continually being improved.
The project in Jagna, Philippines came about when there was an opportunity to support the efforts of the Jagna government and Philos Health to bring improved healthcare to an entire area. Philos Health is committed to providing medical equipment and training to local doctors and medical personnel. The government of Jagna had Philos Health sign a memorandum of agreements protecting the rights of the Jagna community to identify their health needs, decide which programs to select, decide if they could pay for them, manage them and assume responsibility to see that they were sustainable. These agreements lead to a steady improvement in Jagna’s ability to deliver healthcare. What began as medical personnel education, ended up as an intensive health screening conducted by a joint team of US and Jagna based healthcare professionals, screening up to one thousand residents, three times a year. Working together, Jagna and Philos were able to identify and treat 800 residents for diabetes and 1,200 for hypertension. Philos, in collaboration with NGOs in the developed world, delivered cost-effective treatment for these individuals for less than $7.00 a day, versus the regular wholesale price of $600. This was essential because in the Philippines there is no program to support individual purchase of medicine.
The biggest challenge was reaching the poorest and most isolated areas which had a high number of illiterate and non-mobile individuals. Community Radio does this exceedingly well. It offered the possibility of consumer health education that could reach everyone independent of literacy skills or geographic isolation. EC supplied the funds for radio equipment, securing a license, and for initial training. The Jagna community accepted responsibility for maintaining and sustaining the station once it was on the air and committed to using it for health education, to promote citizen participation, and to promote a sense of unity and enjoyment.