Our first introduction into Baja, Mexico was Laguna San Ignacio, a protected bay off the coast of Baja Sur. A United Nations World Heritage Site, Laguna San Ignacio is a critical birthing ground for gray whales and is also home to green sea turtles, peregrine falcons and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
In 2007, Philanthropiece was invited to join a community coalition to install a renewable energy system for the schools of Laguna San Ignacio. Somewhere between installing solar panels and digging ditches for eco-composting toilets, we began to learn more about the priorities of this rural fishing village. In response to what we heard, we worked with local leaders to initiate a of series sustainable development projects including: environmental education, rural health promotion, sustainable tourism and English language courses, small business loans, and financial literacy trainings. Our Community Bank program has proved most successful: it meets a strong community priority, has the potential to impact thousands of people, and is locally-driven and locally-led. Building upon our forged relationships in the region, we have identified Community Banks as our core program in the Baja region.