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Foundation for Sustainable Development

This provider 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.


PO Box 21467
Oakland, CA 94620
United States


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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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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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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!

Yes, I recommend this program
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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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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When I first decided to leave my day job and give volunteering/interning abroad a whirl, I was overwhelmed with the opportunities out there. The first thing I noticed was that a lot of the opportunities offered revolved around teaching English or constructing a building. My background wasn't rooted in teaching and I was looking for a transition into sustainable development, not aid. I was when I found FSD's site and realized that what they were offering was exactly what I was looking for. They offered three different areas that I was really looking for in a program -- cultural integration, (real) project development, and support. After checking with an old college professor about the organization, I decided to apply. The cost of the program was the only thing that was the only thing that had me concerned -- I was essentially paying a lot of money to work for free. Yet, I later realized FSD practices what they preach. The fees for the program allow the organization to function without depending on donations.

From the very start FSD was really involved in the process. It included an interview with the local site team, which was both an introduction and an opportunity to further express the type of work I was hoping to do. After the interview, the site team helped me with the visa application and promptly sent me my host organization and host family information. The support didn't stop there. Once I was in Udaipur, I received a week-long orientation on how to both practically and culturally navigate my time in Udaipur. After the orientation the site team checked in with me at least once a week, but were always available if I needed assistance. The support covered helping me find soap to giving constructive criticism -- that really helped! -- during my project. The site team also facilitated both cultural and development related activities. The activities included Q&As with prominent figures in the community, cultural activities, and exposure to different fields of development. We even went on a midterm retreat to Northern Rajasthan.

The key to the cultural integration, which was also the best part of the internship, was the host family. Living with the host family gave me a different perspective. My host mom was the sweetest woman and she suffered through my painstaking nights of trying to learn how to cook and learn hindi like a champ. She also included me in family activities, introducing me to her extended family, bringing me to weddings and patiently responded to all the questions I had about Udaipur/Indian culture.

The third part was the project development with a host organization. This was really important to me from the beginning. I was looking for a program of substances, which is why I opted for FSD over teaching English/volunteering. I was taught about FSD's approach to sustainable development, which was really important when I settled into the organization. The staff members, who after a few weeks became friends, had a really strong understanding of FSD's ABCD approach to development. We worked with the communities and clients to create a project. In addition, I was able to support on-going projects within the organization. The collaboration was a great experience, one that I felt I was able to obtain a better understanding of the reality of development and to contribute my own skill set to the organization.

The length of my internship was for six months. During my time I felt like I was able to accomplish what I set out to do. I learned about the practical applications to international development, I successfully integrated into a new culture, and had some good ole' fashioned fun.

How can this program be improved?
An alumni network would be great.
Yes, I recommend this program


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