The MEXICO Report
By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
The International Community Foundation, which was founded in 1990, is an organization that focuses on channeling donations made by San Diegans to nonprofit organizations in various parts of the world, but from the beginning the founders made special emphasis on supporting those in Baja California.
“The International Community Foundation is excited to celebrate 20 years of volunteering, grantmaking and leadership,” said Cheryl Hammond, the chair of the International Community Foundation board of governors. “The organization has made great contributions across U.S. borders and will continue to assist overseas communities and nonprofit organizations.”
To celebrate the two decades of charity, the foundation recently celebrated at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. The event recognized companies, organizations, and individuals who have made a difference in the history of the International Community Foundation.
Proceeds from the event will be used to support foundation programs that focus on border issues in San Diego and Tijuana, said Richard Kiy, president and CEO of the foundation.
“One area of focus has been the border, because we think San Diego and Tijuana and the rest of Baja California is a region only,” Kiy said. “We live in a binational region where health problems, social problems do not respect political boundaries. Challenges such as tuberculosis, HIV, pollution do not respect political barriers, do not stop at the border wall. We have problems we must solve together as sister cities.”
Kiy added that what happens in Tijuana directly affects San Diego.
“San Diego and Tijuana are highly dependent on each other. The quality of life in San Diego depends on the quality of life in Tijuana and vice versa. Everyday we have cultural, business, family exchanges,” he said.
That is why, he said, when San Diegans make a donation to a good social cause in Tijuana, in fact they are also helping San Diego.
Kiy said that 65 percent of donations from the International Community Foundation is devoted to the peninsula of Baja California from Tijuana to Los Cabos.
About 60 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have received funding or assistance in some form or another from the foundation, Kiy said.
Some of the areas where the foundation focuses most are children, health, education, environment, and culture.
In these 20 years, Kiy said, the foundation has raised more than $ 33 million that have been donated to social organizations.
Although much of the donations are made by individuals and philanthropic organizations, all San Diegans can donate, even a dollar, said Kiy.
“There are specific funds for specific causes,” he said.
Some of the recent causes which they have supported include the long-term treatment of more than 80 children with cancer in Baja California, creating homes for homeless and neglected children in Ensenada, and establishing educational programs in rural areas in Mexico.
One of the organizations that have worked with the International Community Foundation in Tijuana is the Fundación para la Protección de la Niñez, which is dedicated to supporting programs designed to bring well-being to children in vulnerable situations in Mexico.
For Maria Aurora Garza, chief operating officer in Baja California for the Fundación para la Protección de la Niñez, the 20 years of the International Community Foundation mean a big relief for Mexican organizations.
“Their support acknowledges the work we’re doing on this side of the border,” Garza said.