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Foundation for Sustainable Development


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.


PO Box 21467
Oakland, CA 94620
United States


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You can tell that everyone here cares about the work that is done with the partner organizations on the ground. The fact that they are so knowledgeable and passionate about grassroots sustainable development makes it easier on those of us going abroad.

The host families were a huge plus with this organization, they really choose families who are interested in your well being and having someone join their family as opposed to seeing visitors as paychecks.

Also learned a lot first hand about grant writing!

Yes, I recommend this program
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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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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It is the philosophy of FSD that I think is so good. In their name, “sustainable” refers to the fact that the projects the interns work on are self perpetuating. A Ugandan once said to me, “donations have destroyed Africa,” and by that I believe he meant that coming into the country and just leaving some resources behind is not helpful to anyone. Instead, the generation of business and transfer of skills are the most valuable things. FSD gives you great freedom to work on what you want and guides you to ensure you project fits this model of a sustainable social enterprise. For the project to be sustainable the materials must be sourced locally, people from the community need to be the primary labor force and the utility must be relevant to progressing the standards of living of the community.

Being interested in technology, I worked with another intern on solar energy. FSD introduced us to the Lwemodde Youth Group which tinkers around with electronics and had an interest in the subject. The youth group pointed us to a small fishing village called Malembo which was not on the electricity grid. Our project was to then help the youth group build a small solar power company by teaching and helping them with the initial grid. It was very rewarding to see some of the villagers get connected and receive night time lighting and phone charging services. The youth group now has another source of income, part of which they use for community projects.

Without FSD guidance we certainly would not have used our time as effectively. In terms of setting us up in the country the local FSD organizers were very useful. Uganda can be a difficult adjustment for many and so the team put effort into our orientation which included a bit of history, cultural lessons and language. They tried very hard to find us the best host families possible. One of the best doctors in town doctor was brought in to tell us about how to keep safe against diseases we normally do not encounter such as Malaria. We were given all sorts of ways to access this doctor’s services or others if need be. In my summer term, there were 14 interns and FSD helped us socialize and go on trips together. We were able to travel to others parts of the county, experience the Nile river and see Queen Elizabeth park. It would not have been as comforting or as good a set up for our work without the FSD team.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Our experience in Masaka, Uganda was both challenging and amazing. I traveled with a group of college students over spring break for 3 years. I am confident in saying that every student came home energized and motivated. Each student stayed with a local family and each day, we worked with the local community on community-identified needs, such as building energy efficient stoves, planting trees, building water harvesting tanks, and building tippy-taps (hygiene stations). The value of the trip was in being exposed to a new culture, working together with the local community, and making a difference.

As a partner, I can't say enough nice things about FSD. They were VERY organized, had a strong staff presence in the local community, were responsive to questions and concerns, had a positive attitude, and most importantly, were clearly committed to the work of social change.

I read the poor review on here and it seemed like a completely different program than we experienced. I know some people might shy away from an experience in a culture and location so removed from their usual life, but the potential for personal growth in Uganda is amazing. I would recommend this experience to anyone!

Yes, I recommend this program
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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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program


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