PLATINUM2023

Rainforest Partnership

Building a future with thriving tropical rainforests

Austin, TX   |  www.RainforestPartnership.org

Mission

Rainforest Partnership's mission is to protect and regenerate tropical rainforests by working with rainforest communities to develop sustainable livelihoods that empower and respect both people and nature.

Ruling year info

2008

Chief Executive Officer

Niyanta Spelman

Main address

P.O. Box 49268

Austin, TX 78765 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-1618125

NTEE code info

Forest Conservation (C36)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Rainforests are vital for the survival of life on Earth. We depend on the Amazon rainforest alone for 20% of the oxygen we breathe and the freshwater we drink. They absorb our carbon dioxide, stabilize climate patterns, and are home to half the world’s plant and animal species. Yet every minute, we lose 40 football fields of rainforests, which threatens our biodiversity and imperils our planet’s health. Deforestation causes 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions that accelerate climate change—more than all the cars in the U.S. and China combined. The communities within rainforests feel an immense pressure from oil, logging, and mining companies for access to their land. Rainforest Partnership works with such communities to create a sustainable economy that relies on the surrounding forest for its sustainable resources, creating a natural incentive to preserve the environment while also providing for the community.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Tropical Andes Ecosystem (Cloud Forest Ecosystem)

To the north of Peru, an enormous forest covered by a blanket of clouds extends over around 900,000 acres - the Cordillera de Colán. Rainforest Partnership launched this project in 2021 to ensure long-term protection of the cloud forests and high biodiversity of the area. RP coordinated with 7 conservation units, which came together for the first time to develop the overall conservation strategy made up of four components: strengthening conservation management, conducting conservation research, supporting local sustainable agricultural production, and improving communications systems and environmental education. The project increased access to environmental education and awareness, sustainable economic options, and management tools that empower local communities to envision, plan, and implement their own projects and plans for the future of their communities and land. With expanding and replicable models, the project directly and indirectly impacted the over 68,000 people who live here

Population(s) Served

On August 8, one of Rainforest Partnership's Project Coordinators arrived at the community of Sani Isla, the first stop on a weeklong journey to five Kichwa communities along the Napo River. This day marked the beginning of the Women of the Rio Napo project, which brought together groups in these communities - led by women but inclusive of all who want to participate - to build sustainable enterprises that built economic security, community resilience, and community capacity to lead conservation of their forests. Building sustainable livelihoods has always been a central tenet of RP's 360 conservation model. The project expanded greatly: the communities began to work in agroforestry/sustainable production of rainforest products as well as sustainable fish farming, and over time the project created more income and stability. Sustainable livelihood projects are thus key to building a foundation for long term, effective forest protection, led by rainforest communities themselves.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

In 2020, the Gen Z for the Trees team, composed of a diverse group of young people, established their mission: engage youth in rainforest protection, combat the oversimplification of conservation work, and shift the narrative on climate change from despair to optimism and action. The “Z4T” movement has already reached hundreds of young people, researched thousands of palm oil mills and begun long-term work on corporate transparency, and established itself as a beacon of hope for the future of the world’s forests.

Gen Z for the Trees is quickly expanding; they developed teams focused on each of the main commodities driving deforestation, with the goal of understanding linkages between corporations, governments, and consumers in a global context. They will continue to identify and reveal gaps in transparency or enforcement, use collective engagement and action to pressure corporations to address deforestation in their business models and supply chains, and ultimately uplift solutions which help protect forests and the lives that depend on them. Gen Z for the Trees leveraged the power and reach of social media to engage hundreds of young people on our social media channels, through educational, inspiring, and activist-oriented content. The team mapped over 5000 palm oil mills and identified nearly 300 mills without a Universal Mill List identification code. Z4T goal is to publicly share the information they unsurfaced through their first long-term project: researching corporations that have conflict palm oil in their supply chains, and holding them accountable, especially if they have made pledges to deforestation-free commitments. Conflict palm oil is palm oil linked to environmental or human rights violations, and is a major issue in the industry. This project has allowed our team of youth to connect with experts in sustainability as they advance palm oil traceability and corporate accountability. Since its inception in June, Gen Z for the Trees has been featured by Giving Tuesday, the Daily Texan, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth

On Earth Day, April 22nd, Films for the Forest (F3) screenings were streamed in three different time zones across several media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and the Rainforest Partnership website. The online Films for the Forest screenings were so successful that even after the pandemic, we will continue to offer online screenings to create content that is accessible and available to people around the world.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Since 2017, for many people in this field and around the world, June 22nd has been dedicated to celebrating our rainforests. 6 years later, the Global Summit was born—a community- powered event for and by rainforest guardians, critical ecosystem defenders, and those seeking to make the connection between their lives and forests. Tying together everything that makes World Rainforest Day a powerful initiative—an unparalleled network of actors in the environmental space, partnerships with the private and policy sectors, and room for anyone who wants the join the movement—the Summit was conceived with the mission of breaking down the silos that limit powerful, global collaboration for rainforest protection.

Population(s) Served

Out of the World Biodiversity Summit came Rainforest Collective, long a brainchild of Niyanta Spelman, born into the world as the result of a roundtable discussion between 12 experts from sectors representing education, law, public policy, on-the-ground conservation, innovative technology, and engineering. Having explored in real-time the opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration, several of the speakers reconnected after the event to push the conversation further, transforming it into a long-term collaboration for real rainforest impact. After months of planning, the Collective was officially announced at COP26 in Glasgow.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Adults
Children and youth
Adults
Children and youth
Adults
Children and youth
Adults
Children and youth
Adults
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Planet Women's Year End Gift 2022

Planet Women

HPF Grant 2023

Hollomon Foundation

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Tropical Andes Ecosystem (Cloud Forest Ecosystem)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Worked in direct partnership with 14 indigenous and many more local communities, 5 protected areas, 3 regional governments in Peru and many other partners.

Number of individuals impacted through our projects

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our work benefited 550,612 people across 6 regions of Peru, two provinces of Ecuador and across 3 ecosystems.

Number of community initiatives in which the organization participates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

RP's work with a community is not intended to be permanent–a decrease in number of community initiatives often indicates completion of our role within a community

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

It took a team of 91 dedicated volunteers and interns in the US, Peru and other parts of the world with their services values at $453,249, helping us create outsized impact in rainforest conservation.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The mission of Rainforest Partnership is to protect and regenerate tropical rainforests by working with the communities of the forests to develop a sustainable economy. As a result, these communities can provide for their families while respecting both people and nature.

Our central objectives are to:

- Protect tropical rainforests and mitigate local drivers of deforestation by making it more profitable for rainforest communities to keep the forests standing

- Improve the lives of local populations by helping communities establish and manage economically and ecologically sustainable businesses that will continue to flourish long after our work with the community is over

- Make community members key players in the protection and monitoring of the forests where they live

- Achieve added beneficial objectives alongside the key goal of rainforest protection including biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation

- Create enduring, replicable models in regions where we work and beyond

We are currently working with communities in the Amazon rainforest region in Peru and Ecuador, developing income generating activities specific to each project area. Specific considerations for every income generating activity include biodiversity potential, land management practices, socio-economic conditions, cultural context, market potential, and most importantly, whether the community has control over their land and if they want an alternative, sustainable income source.

We establish synergy between environmentally sustainable economic development and rainforest conservation.

Our model is collaborative, bottom-up, and results-driven. We work closely with rainforest communities and with in-country organizations, technical experts, business, and local governments to identify and develop goods and services found only in the forest. Then, we ensure the product is created sustainably and that it returns a steady income to the community. We work with communities that want an alternative to deforestation. By enabling communities to have an active role in the project and by using market-based approaches we collaboratively prevent deforestation, promote active conservation, and foster economic development.

We have community selection criteria which is the first essential tool to determine whether a community has the potential to carry out sustainable development activities that would lead to the direct protection of tropical rainforests.

Our strategies to protect rainforest lands and reduce deforestation include
1) Identifying rainforest communities that are looking for an alternative income source for protecting their forests and want to commit to a rigorous effort of sustainable development for five to seven years. Collaboratively, we work on identification, planning and implementation of an economically and environmentally sustainable course of action.

2) Assessing opportunities within the forest for marketable goods and services. There are a variety of goods available in many Amazon forests that can be sustainably harvested and sold in local and international markets–food products such as cacao and coffee, tree products such as piassaba palm fibers, medicinal plants, and even ecotourism opportunities. Our role is to work with the communities themselves, local foresters and biologists, and other local partners as needed to document the full range of possibilities for further exploration in each region.

3) Designing an action plan for the development of the identified goods and services. We take into account the cultural rules and norms for work and decision-making, in addition to current and potential skills of community residents. Plans typically call for training and education of community members, with training provided by our in-country local team members to ensure cultural sensitivity. Our collaborative style ensures that every community works within itself to produce goods and services that are consistent with cultural values.

4) With advice and assistance from the Rainforest Partnership team and technical experts, the community implements the plan. The plan is revised and extended to accommodate new information and new opportunities. The implementation achieves our joint objective–a reliable income for the community while keeping the forest intact.

We believe that building a strong and collaborative workforce is critical to any organization's long-term success. We work as an integrated team in Austin, Peru, and Ecuador. The team in Peru and Ecuador includes the director of projects, community based project coordinators, and technical personnel. Communicating with the team on-the-ground on a regular basis from Austin is critical for the successful implementation of the various project goals and objectives. We use platforms such as Skype and WhatsApp to keep updated on progress and updates on a daily and a weekly basis. We aim to achieve high-impact results while keeping costs low by forming strategic partnerships and leveraging the knowledge and resources of our staff, partner communities, and strategic experts in key program areas.

We follow five defined steps to make sure this happens:

1) Initial Research & Selection: We select our partner communities based on thorough on-the-ground research of the community. We assess the community’s current forms of livelihood, needs and desires, the threats to each rainforest, and the business opportunities inherent in each rainforest.

2) Implementation of Sustainable Production Methods: Our knowledgeable from on-the-ground teams comprised of Rainforest Partnership team members and partner NGOs allows us to provide hands-on training in sustainable production and extraction, starting with community leaders.

(3) Design of individualized business plans: Based on our initial research, we work side-by-side with the community to develop executable business plans. We identify target markets, challenges, marketing strategies, management plans, leadership needs and Rainforest Partnership's exit strategy.

(4) Train Community Leaders and Project Coordinators: We equip key community leaders and project coordinators with business skills through a series of workshops, apprenticeships, and one-on-one guidance from knowledgeable experts and partners.

(5) Measure Our Impact: Long-term change will not occur unless the local population is empowered to protect their own forests. After our initial project evaluation, we coordinate with university partners and community members to utilize a “citizen expert" approach, enabling the local community to be ongoing stewards of their own forests.

We have established multiple projects with rainforest communities in Ecuador and Peru. They have all been successful in our organization's aim to protect tropical rainforests by working with the communities of the forests to develop sustainable livelihoods. Most of our projects are ongoing, some have been completed, and others are in the process of expanding. In the future we will seek to replicate, scale, and amplify our projects in order to have a greater impact on protecting the rainforests and empowering local communities.

Our projects currently cover 68,493 hectares of protected rainforest and support 1,326 people who directly benefit from the generation of income as a result. In addition, nearly 800,000 hectares of forest and over 14,000 people are benefitted indirectly by our projects. These numbers will continue to increase as new projects go live.

Projects: Our work with the women of Sani Isla community in Ecuador helped establish a local income generating activity of artisanal crafts. Previously these women had no source of income, but now they collectively make over $25,000 in craft sails and ecotourism. By empowering the women in this community and establishing a sustainable means of income, they no longer have to consider opening their lands to oil prospecting.

With the Achuar communities in Peru we are in the process of establishing a traditional medicine center to help create a sustainable means of income. With the indigenous Chipaota communities of Peru we helped create the Allima Waska artisan group, which allowed women of the community to produce and market traditional baskets and bags. We also established a sustainable method of harvesting Piassaba palm fibers–previously they were harvested by cutting down the entire tree.

In the Colibri cloudforest of Peru's Selva Central region we have established basic ecotourism in the San Antonio and Calabaza communities. We have also created methods for protecting local wildlife and are in the process of constructing a butterfly sanctuary.

Rainforest Partnership has an international short film challenge, Films for the Forest. Winning films are screened at SXSW in Austin and elsewhere. The annual challenge consists of short film entries about the forests and picked by a panel of celebrity judges.

Protecting tropical rainforests is a highly ambitious goal. It is going to require collaborative global action by individuals, corporations, nation states and local governments and NGOs working at multiple levels to achieve net zero deforestation of these forests.

We at Rainforest Partnership recognize that we have to activate a global network of Rainforest Partners to act at every level for us to reach our lofty goals. To this end, we launched the inaugural World Rainforest Day on June 22, 2017 as a collaborative effort to encourage individual actions in protecting rainforests while highlighting their critical climate regulation role.

See our site https://worldrainforestday.com/

Financials

Rainforest Partnership
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Rainforest Partnership

Board of directors
as of 02/17/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Frank Richards

President, CEO and Board Member CBDI

Frank Richards

Hazel Barbour

Lucia Gallardo

Kristin Owen

Niyanta Spelman

Laura Hall

Sumit Jamuar

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/17/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/09/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.