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Survival / October 11, 2017

Three ways to help Puerto Rico

Written by: Matt Minich

I live in San Juan, Puerto Rico, so I’ve been out of touch for the last few weeks. Like millions of Puerto Ricans, I lost power and running water when Hurricane Maria tore across the island on September 20. I thankfully still have my home and my health, but many here aren’t so lucky.

Now almost three weeks after the storm, the Puerto Rican recovery effort is well under way. Billions of dollars have been allocated to provide water, gas, medicine, and other resources to the island’s communities. That response has been very, very far from perfect, but it is at least well funded.

It’s still not likely to be enough. Even before it was double-tapped by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico was in crisis. The U.S. territory has been mired in an economic recession for more than a decade, and is now negotiating a crushing $70 billion debt. So when essential services have been restored and federal aid agencies leave the island, the 3.4 million U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico will still need a lot of help.

The best way for would-be donors to help in that effort is to give to nonprofits based in Puerto Rico. These groups know the island’s needs better than anyone, and they’ll be there for the long haul. I can personally vouch for all three of the nonprofits listed below. That definitely doesn’t mean I consider any other groups to be suspect or less than worthwhile—these are just the only one’s that I’ve personally vetted.


Para la naturaleza

Para la Naturaleza is probably Puerto Rico’s most prominent conservation group. The group acquires land for conservation, manage nature preserves, and offers citizen science workshops. It’s been operating on the island for more than 40 years.

After Hurricane Maria, Para la Naturaleza set up a Community Fund to support communities near the organization’s nature reserves. One hundred percent of money donated to the fund will go the relief and rebuilding efforts in these communities.

Click here for an English-language donation page.


Regrow Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has a complicated relationship with agriculture. The island has wide swaths of arable land, but colonial policies of both Spain and the U.S. long relegated that land to the cultivation of sugar or coffee. As a result, very little of the food Puerto Ricans eat today is grown on the island—most is shipped over from the mainland U.S.

Groups of small-scale farmers have worked to buck this trend in recent years, but those efforts were set way back by Hurricane Maria. A new fund organized by the island’s tourism bureau hopes to raise $450,000 to help these farmers rebuild.

Click here for an English-language donation page.


The Puerto Rican Recovery Fund

This fund was organized by the Center for the New Economy: an independent non-partisan think tank devoted to finding solutions for the island’s economic crisis. It has already rasied more than $780,000 (as of October 9), making it the biggest fund on this list.

The group pledges to spend the money first on immediate humanitarian concerns, but will use the rest to help rebuild the Puerto Rican economy. That means it will fund advocacy efforts in D.C. as well as local economic initiatives.

Click here for an Enlglish-language donation page.

Featured image by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos, Puerto Rico National Guard. 

Do you have questions or comments about this article? Email them to [email protected]

about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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