To Emily Fintel Kaiser, going to work means building a better world.
As executive director of EARTH Futures, she and her team are powered by the vast knowledge that EARTH University has gained during more than three decades of existence – harnessing it to amplify our impact across the globe and serve a world in urgent need of innovative solutions.
In the following interview, Kaiser tells us how EARTH Futures is leading the way toward positive transformation in developing regions.
What is EARTH Futures?
EARTH Futures is a platform that was created in 2018 as part of the University’s new strategic plan. In essence, it seeks to grow the impact that EARTH can have, with the goal of building more prosperous and sustainable rural communities. We focus primarily on Latin America, the Caribbean, and the African continent – places where most of our students come from.
What kind of impact are you working toward?
We look for our work to have an impact in different dimensions, mainly on changes in practices and policies that lead to improvements in the quality of life and livelihoods of people living in rural communities.
What kinds of projects are developed?
EARTH Futures has two main pillars: the first is called Leadership Education and is based on the University’s academic experience and its learning model. From this experience and in partnership with other institutions, we seek the transformation of agricultural education into developing regions, so that the formation of new leaders is the most effective possible to meet the challenges and opportunities of agriculture of the future. One of the “flag” programs we are currently working under this pillar is the MCF-EARTH Fellowship Program, which we launched this year in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation. This innovative program seeks to support our African graduates – and eventually graduates of other affiliated programs – in making effective transitions between university education and its professional development as agents of change for the continent. In the program’s first year, we have 17 participating Fellows from 7 African countries.
The purpose of the second pillar, “Solutions Development”, is to identify, design, test, implement, and replicate solutions to some of the main challenges facing rural areas. We work in five sectors: sustainable agriculture & natural resources, technological innovation, entrepreneurship & job creation, climate change, and social inclusion and equity
Under this pillar, we and the Walmart Foundation started an important project last year, which pursues three goals: To increase access to precision-agriculture technologies that boost the information available to producers about their farms, thereby enabling them to make better decisions. To connect producers with new opportunities and partners in local markets. To train future agricultural leaders in Costa Rica and Guatemala.
How are the projects funded?
EARTH Futures was born under the promise of being a self-sustaining platform within EARTH. This is a promise we have honored. Our projects are funded by donors from different countries. In the future, through these partnerships, we hope to further promote the processes of positive change.
At EARTH, we are confident that Emily and her team will continue to impact many communities as they have since the creation of EARTH Futures. Thank you for going the extra mile!