Fundación Mi Parque takes a bottom-up approach to transforming Chile's green spaces. By engaging families, the private sector and the public sector in landscaping projects, Fundación Mi Parque is empowering low-income communities to improve their environments.
Focus: Environment, Education
Geographic Area of Impact: Chile
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Percentage Earned Revenue: 97%
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 150,000 (from website)
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Chile, 2012
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 9 square meters of green space per inhabitant. However, the reality in Chile falls short of this recommendation. According to Sinim the average person has approximately 4.35 square meters of green space. This reality is even worse for families that live in poverty, given that they typically live in areas where the amount of green space is far below the national average and existing spaces are poorly maintained.
Innovation and Activities
Fundación Mi Parque works to improve the lives of poor families by increasing access to green space. To overcome shortcomings of public policy in Chile, Fundación Mi Parque uses a new approach to landscaping projects. Such projects have traditionally followed a top-down approach from the national government, but Fundación Mi Parque instead aims to coordinate support of civil society.
The key to this new model is involving families and communities at the earliest stage of a new project. Public spaces are shared - not owned by one individual. To improve these spaces means empowering families to take ownership of the space. For Fundación Mi Parque, the community is the central axis of the project and the project beneficiaries are the principle actors in the project’s implementation. Fundación Mi Parque collaborates with the communities through all stages of the project, from design and construction to maintenance. Businesses provide much of the funding for the projects and to date Fundación Mi Parque has collaborated with 28 businesses to implement 53 projects.
Fundación Mi Parque employs several strategies to educate the broader public about the importance of public green spaces. Events like Fundación Mi Parque’s Urban Picnics serve as fundraisers for landscaping projects while also highlighting the value of well-maintained green spaces. Fundacion Mi Parque also has a unique alliance with the Chilean wine company, Palo Alto. The Fundación Mi Parque logo appears on every bottle of wine along with a description of the foundation's work. A third strategy for raising awareness is the organization’s volunteer program. Fundacion Mi Parque engages many volunteers from the businesses that finance its projects. Many businesses have found that the landscaping projects are a great way to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and to integrate employees into the effort to improve public green space.
As a student, Martín Andrade became aware that in many low-income areas public spaces were poorly maintained. He knew that if nothing were done to improve these public spaces, future generations born into such an environment would be more susceptible to drugs, alcohol and crime. Martín studied architecture and specialized in urban issues, and he was driven to change the situation. He believed strongly in the mission to improve green spaces and saw it as a way to sow the seeds of a better future for low-income Chilean families. In addition to serving as the director of Fundacion Mi Parque, Martín is establishing an online platform (TalkChile) to deliver English teaching services to low-income individuals.
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