Sowing Opportunities, Inc.

Cultivating self-sustainability in rural Guatemala

aka Sembrando Oportunidades   |   MALDEN, MA   |  www.sowingops.org

Mission

Sowing Opportunities seeks to cultivate self-sustainability, education, and wellness in rural Guatemala.

Ruling year info

2018

President

Ms. Fern Remedi-Brown

Main address

21 IVY RD

MALDEN, MA 02148 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Sowing Opportunities, Inc.

EIN

81-3388386

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (K01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (P01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (J01)

IRS filing requirement

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

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The village of Chajmaic, Guatemala is located along el Río Cahabón. The river provides plentiful water for the village. Destitute and bereft of resources, stripped of options by years of being forgotten by the government, the river is the greatest asset for the remote village of 3,000. However, the river is used for all the village's needs – cooking; cleaning clothes, food, cookware; bathing; drinking; eliminating. Many years ago an administrator from the nearby municipality of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas tried to set up water by sectors for the village, with a small hut for a water pump, which would elevate the water through a pipe already installed, up a hill in the village and it would have been pumped up from river into the hut. The project was halfway completed. This would reduce contamination of water toxicities – projected to reduce by half their current values. This opens the opportunity to eradicate GI illnesses and greatly improve the well-being of the entire village.

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?

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

We seek to help Chajmaic to become self-sustaining, but first they must have access to clean water and food so that they can think of options.

Our pilot project in the village of Chajmaic is water access for the village, population 3,000:

1) Set up a system to access water for the village, with 3 milestones: water accessibility, water filtration, water hygiene education

2) Set up greenhouse tiered farming and teach a team how to continue this work and why it’s important

3) Teach the people to plant non-native vegetables to feed themselves, on their land, and to sell the vegetables to the other villages

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Families

Where we work

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 affiliates speaking to government leaders about relevant policy issues

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

Women and girls, Men and boys, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Five affiliates have requested and received funding from the municipal mayor about our pilot project. These include our board and staff members in Guatemala, our President, and village leadership.

Number of government officials who publicly support the advocacy effort

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

Women and girls, Men and boys, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our team met with the municipal mayor of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Lilian García Contreras. in 12/2017. She aided us in 5/2018. The new mayor, Arnoldo Fontana completed the project in 3/2020.

Number of list subscribers

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

Women and girls, Men and boys, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

As of January 22, 2022, we have 308 subscribers.

Number of funding dollars secured for demonstration projects or pilots

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

Women and girls, Men and boys, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The work of the two municipal mayors equals USD $225,000 in effort, displacing the amount Sowing Opportunities needs to raise.

Number of meetings held with decision makers

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

Women and girls, Men and boys, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our Board of Directors (decision-makers) meets approximately 8x/year.

Number of new advocates recruited

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

Women and girls, Men and boys, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Water for Life – Agua de Vida

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In the past month (March 2020), we actively have recruited five new advocates.

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.

What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
Our associate in Guatemala, Ricardo San José, and his team of agricultural engineers, have traveled several times since 2015 to the village of Chajmaic, providing food and water filters, doing field research, and establishing good relations with the village leaders (COCODE) of Chajmaic and with the mayor of the nearby municipality, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas.

We wish to accomplish three objectives:
1. Create peace and healing between the village and the government, in response to historical intentional disregard and destruction of indigenous people and their land.

2. Deliver water from the river, purify it, and bring it to stations within the village.

3. The team will use the clean water for growing crops, which will provide food (agriculture) to sustain them, and a livelihood selling the food that they grow.

What are your strategies for making this happen?
1. In December in 2017 they met with the mayor, who showed them the water filtration system in Fray on which Ricardo and his team will model a pump system for Chajmaic. They are visiting again in May 2018 to further this strategic mission.

2. Pump water that will deliver suctioned water uphill from the river and draw it into a tank to purify the water. They will send this water to the entire village by force of pressure and gravity push, approximately 450 gallons per hour, 24 hours a day. This will eliminate gastrointestinal diseases.

3. Rent a relatively small portion of land to build a tiered greenhouse, bringing in vegetables that are not native to Chajmaic.

Fern Remedi-Brown has expertise is in designing successful programs that understand the needs of multicultural and multilingual populations, and she has a passion for eliminating global healthcare inequities. She has traveled multiple times to Guatemala and is working closely with the Guatemala NGO CorGuate. She is an educator with a Master's of Education and an MBA in Global & Healthcare Management. She has done extensive fundraising on a small scale, raising over $65,000 over six years with grassroots funding.

Our associate in Guatemala, Ricardo San José, Board member, is the project manager for our team in the region. He has directed projects and has connections with the Catholic church, as well as having developed personal trusted relationships with members of the village of Chajmaic. He has knowledge of business practices, as well as organizational capability.

The initial plan for the village of Chajmaic was to create a chili pepper farm because that is one of the only crops that will grow on the land. We sent Ricardo and Antonio to do field research in Péten, in the north, to visit a functional chili pepper farm. When we realized the cost of renting a large amount of land and hiring farm hands, we decided in March 2017 to start smaller for our pilot project and to go with the most pressing need – that of clean water, which will help the villagers to stop getting sick from the river water, which they use for all their needs.

At the December 2015 trip to Chajmaic, Ricardo and Antonio visited the COCODE, the village leaders, and got their approval to do a project that will help them to move out of poverty. At that time, we were thinking about the chili pepper project. At the December 2017 trip to Chajmaic, they also visited the mayor of Fray Bartolomé, which was a necessary step in creating a bridge relationship between the village and this municipality. There are long-standing issues of trust between the indigenous people and the local government, so this work has to be done with finesse. Ricardo and his team are approaching this strategically.

In August 2020 we conducted a needs assessment with 125 families, which confirmed our agricultural direction. Water filtration will be Phase 2.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Families living in remote, indigenous villages in Guatemala

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We decided to bring on an expert agricultural engineer to help families to grow the vegetables that they would like to grow to feed their families and to sell to other villages, for livelihood.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    The people are in charge of the decisions and are able to better understand the resources needed for the projects.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Sowing Opportunities, Inc.
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Operations

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

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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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.

Sowing Opportunities, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 1/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Fern Remedi-Brown

Sowing Opportunities, Inc.

Term: 2017 - 2025

Cecilia Nuñez O’Doherty

Lauren DiSalvatore

Zinaida Alekseeva

Ricardo San José Roca

Denis García

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 ? Yes
  • 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 12/24/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

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

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/09/2020

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 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 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 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.