Supporting Community Leaders

During years of action and investigation to address the needs of rural young people, FUNDAEC has developed educational materials to help young people become protagonists of the development of their own communities. In 2009, these materials were combined into an educational program for development called “Supporting Community Leaders.” The program is the result of more than 40 years of experience of FUNDAEC and its University Center for Rural Well-being. Working in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental institutions, it offers young people high-quality education and creates environments where their desire to serve is cultivated. Their intellectual development is stimulated and they develop the capacities necessary to build prosperous societies through civic engagement.


The program is aimed at young people who have completed secondary education and wish to strengthen the capacities necessary to contribute to the material and spiritual development of their communities. It was designed specifically to help young people achieve excellence in a trade or profession, through which they will be able to promote the well-being of their families, communities and society in general. The program also seeks to strengthen their leadership capacity to inspire and motivate others to serve, thus contributing to the creation of a culture of peace and the reconstruction of the social fabric.

The program consists of the following: the study of relevant educational content, guidance for choosing trades and professions, creation of opportunities for community service, and financial support for higher education through a solidarity fund. In order to ensure that more and more young people have the opportunity to enter high-quality educational programs, the region’s institutions and the program’s graduates themselves, once they have acquired paid employment, are encouraged to contribute to this fund.

The Supporting Community Leaders program works with young people for four years and helps them choose a career path that will support them and their families and contribute to improving the conditions of the world around them. Some of the participants learn a trade through an apprenticeship program, while others develop skills in a technical or undergraduate program. Many young people choose to practice their vocation as entrepreneurs by setting up productive projects and small businesses. In summary, the program strives to provide participants with opportunities to make holistic decisions about their future, based on their dreams, practical considerations, academic excellence, and service to humanity.

Currently, the Supporting Community Leaders program is being implemented in three regions of Colombia, with more than 200 participants and about 2,000 indirect beneficiaries. It has received financial support from the Austrian Development Agency, Two Wings Foundation and Resource Foundation.



Experience has shown that students who participate in this program develop a strong sense of purpose to take charge of their own intellectual and moral growth, and can contribute to the transformation of society in general. They use the skills they acquire in the program to help meet the needs of the community. Another significant result of this effort is that young people who were traditionally marginalized from higher education now gain academic skills, as well as the vocational and career guidance necessary to continue their education after graduating from high school. This directly effects their opportunities to earn a livelihood.

The following are some of the capabilities the program develops in the participants:



Relationship with institutions and companies

To implement the Supporting Community Leaders Program properly, it is vital to have the support of people, institutions and companies in each region.

There are a large number of people in each region who own small businesses and companies; for generations, they have accumulated knowledge and experience on different subjects, for example, how to produce high-quality food, goods or services. These individuals are encouraged to hold inspiring conversations with program participants, teach them how to prepare products, and in some cases, teach an apprenticeship or employ young people.

Educational institutions such as universities and technical institutes support the program by offering spaces for participants to study a specific technical, technological or professional career, or learn a specific art or trade. Other governmental and non-governmental institutions provide loans or scholarships for higher education to participants.

Companies support the program by offering internships or providing employment opportunities. Another form of support involves grants to some of the participants or donations to the Solidarity Fund.
The joint work of the program with individuals, institutions and companies helps create the necessary conditions so that young people with a commitment to the rest of society can be well-trained.

Individuals, institutions and companies can support the program in the following ways:

· Provide internships
· Provide programs and training
· Provide job opportunities
· Donate to the Solidarity Fund
· Share their professional experience in their enterprises, projects or trades with young people.