All About the CAP: How Has it Changed Fundación El Arenal?

Written by Stephanie Chamberlain, Volunteer and Michigan State University Student

What is Fundación El Arenal?

Fundación El Arenal is an organization that aims to provide educational assistance and nutritional services to students in Feria Libre, the largest market in Cuenca. Generally, the students that receive assistance from Fundación El Arenal are children of street workers that come from the area, which happens to be the poorest region of Cuenca. The resources that Fundación El Arenal offers its students – including, but not limited to: an after-school program, tutoring, and nutritional meals – play an important role in ensuring the students’ academic success and allowing them a better future.

What is the CAP?

The Community Assistance Program, or CAP, allows the Hearts of Gold Foundation to partner with grassroots organizations and community leaders to assist them in the development of their organizations and programs. The main goal of the CAP is to provide its members with the necessary tools to not only survive, but to prosper. Success in the CAP is achieved primarily through the services provided to the member organizations, such as: individualized counseling, skills-building workshops and dialogues, and networking opportunities.

The CAP and Fundación El Arenal

Fundación El Arenal joined the CAP within the last year after having already established a working relationship with Hearts of Gold. According to the Director of E Arenal, Maria Elizabeth Barreto, (best known as “Maribel”), the foundation is already stronger and has seen many positive changes in its organizational structure as a result of the support from Hearts of Gold. Maribel states that monetary assistance from the CAP has helped Fundación El Arenal’s programs substantially, and she also stresses the positive impact that the workshops, dialogues, and networking opportunities have had on the organization. Maribel notes that the workshops have helped her to improve efficiency in her organization, especially when it comes to delegating tasks, avoiding burnout, and sticking to a strategy that allows the organization to prosper. She also says she greatly benefits from being part of the network of nonprofits which allows her to collaborate, learn from, and share emotional experiences with leaders in a similar situations as her.

Fundación El Arenal: Looking Forward

Looking forward, Maribel expresses her hopes that Fundación El Arenal will continue learning strategies from Hearts of Gold and its CAP program that will help them to raise and sustain funds to keep the organization alive. With these funds, she claims that first and foremost, Fundación El Arenal would like to acquire a permanent property for the organization and the students. After that, any funds raised would go towards providing the students with even more programs directed towards their well-being.

You can make an impact.

Make a donation to Fundación El Arenal today! Help El Arenal reach its goals of providing students the best programs possible and save to acquire their own building for the foundation! Click donate below.




Stephanie Chamberlain is a student at Michigan State University studying International Relations and Economics. Stephanie is in Ecuador for the summer volunteering at Hearts of Gold and Fundación El Arenal.

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