MPI Ecuador: Our Approach
Manna Project International’s mission is to foster communities of young adults and encourage them to use their passions and education in service to communities in need. MPI’s Ecuador team recruits college students and graduates to live and work together as catalysts of sustainable, community-driven development. In the Chillos valley outside Quito, Ecuador, we apply a four-step approach to asset-based community development:
- Identify the existing assets, resources and capacities in a community. Drawing from methodologies developed by the World Bank and Northwestern University, we conduct surveys and community dialogues to familiarize ourselves with the institutions, networks and individuals in one or two small, contiguous neighborhoods. Rather than focusing on that community's needs, the surveys identify the existing assets and resources that are the foundations of community-driven development.
- Launch short-term programming and lay the foundation for sustainable impact. Based on results from the asset surveys, we work with local leaders to develop visible, relevant short-term programming, aimed at different age groups and populations within our target community. These initial efforts build trust, cultivate relationships, and establish MPI’s presence in the community as we begin to identify potential partners and establish areas of focus.
- Empower Individuals, Strengthen Institutions, and Build Networks. All of our programs build upon one of three asset-based axes.
- Empower individuals through programs that develop their capacities to advance economically and educationally, and to become leaders in their communities.
- Strengthen institutions by working alongside them to introduce best practices, connect them to national and international resources, and expand their services.
- Build networks by creating stronger links among community members, connecting people to local institutions, and promoting inter-institutional collaboration.
- Continue the asset-building cycle. By investing in individuals, institutions and networks, we equip communities with the tools they need to continue their own development. When the momentum for continued development is in place, we shift our focus from the primary community to a neighboring community, replicating the process.