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Foundation for Sustainable Development

This organization has been expired and its programs are no longer offered.


Founded in 1995, Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) works closely with small NGO's in project locations around the world to enhance the capacity of local communities, and address environmental conservation, healthcare, social and economic issues, and a variety of other issues. FSD operates in a collaborative manner with local communities by engaging in capacity building, grant writing, and international development programs. Visit the FSD website to learn more about how you can get involved.



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Yes, I recommend this program

I interned for a grassroots organization the Summer of 2018 and took part in a reusable sanitary pad production and hygiene education project. It was my first time in Africa. I came to Uganda not knowing what to expect. With the support of people I met (my host family, the FSD team, and my colleagues), I learned a lot about community development and sustainable work through field work. The FSD team provided training (how to conduct community assessment, submit budgets, Luganda (language) lessons, etc) to better prepare interns. People in the neighborhood were friendly and went out of their way to integrate me into the local culture and community. I was inspired by the local youth's desire for entrepreneurship and drive to help their own community.

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Yes, I recommend this program

During the Summer of 2011, I participated in the Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), a Group Engage partnership model between the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Northwestern University. GESI is a unique credit-bearing program that combines intensive asset-based community development coursework with 8-10 weeks of team-based asset-based fieldwork with one of FSD’s community partners in Bolivia, India, Nicaragua and Uganda. As a FSD/GESI intern, I spent the summer at one of Udaipur’s oldest and largest NGOs, Seva Mandir. While Seva Mandir’s commitment to “democratic and participatory development” manifests in myriad program areas including education, women’s empowerment, youth development and social enterprise, I worked in Seva Mandir’s health department. Specifically, my GESI team of three worked alongside Seva Mandir’s Community Care Center (CCC), a HIV/AIDS clinic providing clinical and counseling support to local patients.

During my 10 weeks, I had the privilege of first, interviewing clinic patients to better understand their individual and collective barriers to access, regimented care, and stable health, and second, collaborating with Seva Mandir staff to develop and pilot test a small-scale two-part programmatic response consisting of a patient-driven pillbox/chart system and new education materials for clinicians. While parts of our project inevitably failed, my time with Seva Mandir taught me that equally important to the goals of development are the methods by which they are realized – that the process matters. Through the GESI program, the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Northwestern University opened my eyes to the value, intention and necessity of asset-based community development and ignited a life-long commitment to thoughtful international development work.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I traveled to Kakamega with FSD in 2010 on a GST for 4 weeks. A fellow student at SUNY Geneseo had discovered FSD and decided to put an ad in the college newspaper to see how interested other students might be. I luckily stumbled upon it and it has truly shaped my life for the better.

8 other students and I worked abroad with Daisy Special School on three different initiatives; solar cooking, water harvesting and income generation. Before I got to Kakamega, I had had an understanding of sustainable grassroots development, but had never seen or understood how to implement it.

I was incredibly impressed with how FSD managed to not only help us complete huge projects (we planted over 300 trees for both nutrients and harvesting, learned/taught Daisy how to use solar cookers, and installed/taught maintenence of three 250 gallon water tanks), but FSD also gave us lessons in Swahili, alotted us numerous days reviewing our progress and our ever progressing understanding of "sustainable development", provided us host families, and even brought us to neighboring towns for a greater understanding of Kenyan culture.

After my internship I went on to graduate with a degree in International Relations in the Developing World and am looking forward to spending 6 months working in Kenya as a Program Coordinator. I can't wait to help teach others even a little bit of what FSD has taught me.

The saying goes "teach a man to fish and he eats forever". FSD has taught me not only how to teach a man to fish, but also to teach him how to teach others, so the whole community can eat.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing about my program, it would have been the length of time: I could have stayed much, much longer.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I did FSD's Salta program last semester and it was easily one of the best summers of my life. FSD really eased my transition into living and working abroad, and also broadened my perspective about sustainable development and service work. An orientation at the beginning of the program helped to acquaint us to the city of Salta and served as an easy transition period. Salta is a gorgeous city with a mild climate and friendly population. It is easy to navigate, and virtually every corner has a tienda selling anything you may need. During orientation we went on a scavenger hunt to familiarize ourselves with the city, climbed el cerro San Bernardo where we could see over the entire city, leaned about Saltenan and Argentine culture, and got to know the other interns and FSD's staff.

FSD pairs inters with organization based their interests and skills. I got to work with Fundacion HOPe, an NGO who supports those affected by a child's cancer. HOPe was the perfect fit for me, as I love children and would like to be a doctor one day. FSD's host organizations cover a broad scope of topics, for example environmentalism, entrepreneurship and education. The site team provided constant support throughout our internships, providing advice on hot to create an effective, sustainable work plan at weekly meetings. They helped me improve me grant writing skills through workshops and offered feedback on my grant before submission. The Salta FSD staff really looks out for the well-being of their interns, and is always eager to help you with anything you may need, whether it be advice on where to find the best cafe con leche or provide accompaniment to the doctor's office.

The best part of my stay was getting to know my host family. It was a great way to familiarize myself and participate in Argentine culture while making life-long friends. FSD's host families are so open and friendly, and are eager to hos the interns. Among all the great experiences I had in Salta, sitting with and talking to my host mom after dinner was my favorite.

I would recommend FSD Salta to anyone who is interested in sustainable development and wants to strengthen their profession skills while meeting some incredible people.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about the program!

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Yes, I recommend this program

I had participated in two month-long global experiences with different organizations prior to my FSD program. FSD stood out with its emphasis on community partnership and sustainability. They really made participants think about their role within the project, and how they could empower the community to take an active role in the project. This was incredibly refreshing, as the other trips I went on encouraged a savior mentality.
With the FSD program I had an opportunity to interact with locals daily, and it was an enriching experience. Living standards for the students were incredible, and they all greatly enjoyed their home stays.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Meagan Le

Meagan is a San Francisco native and attended the University of San Francisco for her B.A. in environmental studies. She grew up navigating the 7x7 city on Muni when bus rides were only 35-cents. Her upbringing in such a diverse city makes her an adaptable traveler but has set her expectations for good, readily available coffee and varied cuisines unrealistically high.

Why did you pick this program?

I always knew that I wanted to travel abroad in college. However, my experience at USF, a social justice oriented liberal arts college, influenced my perspective on what a meaningful abroad experience looks like.

I chose to participate in FSD’s program because I was confident in having genuine cross-cultural interactions and a relevant educational experience.

FSD offers holistic international internship programs with arranged homestays, exposure to cultural activities and unique professional development opportunities with local grassroots organizations.

As an environmental studies major, FSD’s internship in sustainable development seemed like a natural fit. I was excited to apply my background in environmental studies to better understand sustainable initiatives in community development abroad.

I was always keen on traveling abroad to Asia given my own cultural roots, which influenced my decision participate in FSD’s program in India.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

The beauty of my experience abroad with FSD is that it is something I continue to learn from, build upon and apply in different scenarios. For example, the concept of time in India was difficult for me to adjust to initially.

Over time, I learned to sit and sip my chai, which surprisingly allows me to work better under pressure in the U.S. and to exercise more patience in challenging situations. In my experience, Indian culture places emphasis on family and community, whereas the U.S. can be described as an individualistic culture that values alone time and private space.

After my experience living with a host family and being surrounded by such warm and welcoming communities, I am not as shy in a group setting with strangers.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

This is difficult for me to condense into a single story because my experiences in India are overflowing with unforgettable memories, embarrassing moments and peculiar incidences. I went to India twice with FSD, first as an intern and second as a program coordinator.

The first time I went to India, I was admitted to the hospital with dehydration and typhoid fever on my second day, so people are always surprised to hear how eager I was to return a second time. I’ll never forget those days in the hospital hooked up to an IV contemplating my decision to come to India. That was really a turning point for me where I let go of all expectations, made a pact with myself to push the boundaries and venture beyond my comfort zone, and engage in new experiences to the fullest.

What made this experience unique and special?

FSD also works with universities to incorporate customized trainings and achieve specific university objectives. USF’s partnership with FSD makes it a very unique international internship program for students.

In addition to participating in the internship abroad with other students from my university, USF has a class built into the program before and after the internship, making it a yearlong program.

As a result, the friendships I developed with my USF cohort in the classroom blossomed abroad into some of the strongest bonds I developed in college and that remain today.

While in country, living with a host family and being exposed to the local India FSD office’s established relations with other community members and local organizations made the experience that much more unique and personalized.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Catherine “Cat” Brozena

Job Title
Board Member

How did you become aware of FSD’s work?

I first learned of FSD when I was finishing graduate studies and exploring opportunities that would allow me to offer my time and skills in service to a community while gaining a deeper understanding of the dynamics of sustainable development and globalization being felt around the world. While my overseas pursuits took me in different directions, I have continued my great admiration for the work that FSD does, its mission, and its approach to sustainable development even to today.

What experiences in sustainability or international development had you had prior?

In 2003 to 2005, I participated in an international development study and internship program in India through the University of Minnesota. The U of M program offered a combination of four months of instruction in the local language, culture, and history; eight months of volunteer work with a local NGO; and culminated in a comprehensive research paper that I was to write to encapsulate my learnings. Despite having never traveled abroad at that point in my life, I put all my belongings in storage, booked a one-way ticket to northern India, and embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

My volunteer time in India was spent in partnership with the Morarka Foundation in Jaipur, Rajasthan, where I traveled with local teams across the Shekhawati region, helping local farmers turn their farming practices over to organic methods of raising crops and livestock (methods which were sadly lost during the agricultural revolution in India in favor of more industrial farming methods). I also supported the Morarka Foundation’s yearly cultural festival, which celebrated the beauty, art, and history of the Shekhawati region each year in February. Less than a year after returning to the U.S., I went back to India to continue my work as a communications consultant with the Morarka Foundation, further supporting their efforts to tell the story of their work and to foster a burgeoning of eco-tourism in the region, which still thrives today.

What recent FSD field project best illustrates the organization's model and work?

I've been really moved by the group of teachers who recently travelled to Kakamega, Kenya. In conjunction with a local partner organization, the group created a presentation and leave-behind materials that served as the basis for an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. Those materials continue to be used to help prevent the transmissions of HIV in Kakamega and surrounding villages. I think this project illustrates the ways in which FSD programs and projects are not just one-and-done programs. Rather, they are collaborative in all aspects, and are shaped to have positive, lasting impacts on the health of communities.

How do you contribute your talents to FSD and advancing its mission?

As an FSD board member, I have been lending my time and skill to support FSD's marketing and outreach efforts, to help grow participation in the organization's projects and programs. FSD's collaboration with communities across the globe is done with such integrity, and its mission is so solid and honest. I truly hope that we can get the word out to more people about this great organization and its model of sustainable development so that more communities can benefit from their partnerships with FSD.

What makes an FSD internship especially unique?

FSD internships have been designed to provide both a positive and enriching experience to interns while also delivering the kind of capacity-building support that communities can benefit most from. There's a real thoughtfulness to how these internship opportunities are designed so that everyone comes away from the experience with a stronger set of skills and understanding.