In 2017, EARTH University began an ambitiously comprehensive strategic-planning initiative. Faculty, administrators, donors, students, graduates, and staff added their voices to the high-level discussions. We asked one question again and again: How can EARTH generate more impact in the world?
At that time, EARTH had earned a reputation for its 30-year educational leadership as well as global recognition for its deep-rooted values, innovative educational model and initiatives such as the community development program, student volunteering, and graduation projects, among others. Yet, the EARTH community wanted to pursue something more, something to supercharge the University’s impact in developing regions’ rural areas.
The answer: EARTH Futures, which has since become a driving force behind positive community transformation.
Operating under the Education for Leadership, Developing Solutions and Collaboration pillars, EARTH Futures seeks to accelerate the development of vibrant, sustainable rural areas and communities. The impact platform forges diverse partnerships to build scalable models that promote women’s economic empowerment, sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, the growth of dignified employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, technological innovations and climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
For example, in 2019, thanks to an alliance with the CRUSA Foundation, EARTH Futures developed an innovative training model to fortify climate adaptation and resilience among 500 small farmers in Costa Rica. With support from the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the team implemented best agricultural practices to reduce the impact on water resources in communities near EARTH’s Guácimo Campus. Another example is the new Fellowship Program, which is being developed in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. Designed to facilitate the transition of African students returning to their home countries after completing their degrees at EARTH and partner institutions, the program provides employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Africa, together with a modest stipend for personal expenses, mentorship, and other resources.
“The processes we support in rural areas start from a constructivist methodology in which individuals, communities, and organizations are active players. The models we develop must be flexible to replicate elsewhere,” says Karina Poveda (’13, Costa Rica), program manager at EARTH Futures. “Our work is about accompanying processes and building solutions to problems that we identify together with local actors, who are the leaders of the development of their communities.”
EARTH Futures promotes transformative solutions for rural communities by providing new tools and strategies that will empower people, preserve and enhance the environment, and improve the population´s quality of life. EARTH Futures champions change agents, defends sustainability, and fosters the integral development of rural areas and communities.