SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Seven months after hurricane María hit the island, United for Puerto Rico has awarded $25.8 million in grants for relief and recovery efforts to 133 NGOs, donated 2,068 generators to small businesses, and completed the distribution of 5 million pounds of supplies.
“We are extremely satisfied and proud of the efforts achieved by leveraging the capabilities and resources of NGO’s with potential to impact approximately 1 million individuals with the most pressing needs,” said Aurelio Alemán, Chairman of the Board of United for Puerto Rico (UFPR). “These milestones have been made possible thanks to the generosity of foundations, other organizations, corporations and more than 120,000 individuals who donated $39.2 million to United for Puerto Rico,” added Alemán.
UFPR first focused on providing relief and these efforts have transitioned to recovery. Efforts have supported five critical areas in disaster relief and recovery; 16.15% for food and water; 17.66% for shelter, 26.86% for health, 23.84% for social wellbeing and 15.49% for economic development. These initiatives have concentrated in support of the most vulnerable populations, like the elderly, single mother households and children among others.
According to Mariely Rivera, the Executive Director of UFPR: “The amount collected by UFPR and distributed in seven months is the largest philanthropic effort in Puerto Rico’s history. By leveraging the capabilities of highly qualified NGOs, with established track records, we have been able to maximize the impact of our organization, which was founded between Hurricane Irma and Maria. This work has taken place under challenging conditions with lack of power and reliable telecommunication services during the initial phase.”
The grant effort has also been complemented by the distribution of 5 million pounds of donated supplies through collaborative agreements with various entities: Government of Puerto Rico Collection Center, Compassion Service International, Vieques Love, Fundación Misión de Amor/Ayuda a mi Isla; Mayagüez Municipality, San Germán Municipality, Centro de Amor Antonio Resto Mijol, Corporación de Salud y Desarrollo Económico del Otoao, Universidad de Puerto Rico- Mayagüez and Humacao campuses, Banco de Alimentos, Programa del Adolescente de Naranjito, Iglesia de Dios Mission Board, Utuado, Clínica and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico- Arecibo campus. UFPR also as part of its efforts took on the task to facilitate the process by which these were transported from the mainland U.S. and other countries to Puerto Rico.
To support small businesses, one of the key groups identified as part of the recovery, the organization also supplied power generators, when it became apparent that power restoration would take months in certain areas and close to a year in the central and southeastern part of Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra. More than, 2,000 small businesses benefitted from this program in 24 municipalities facing the biggest challenges in power restoration. This initiative not only provided a survival mechanism for these small businesses, but also offered a support system to these communities by giving a certain level of normality during the crisis.
In addition to these initiatives, UFPR has also, as part of its work plan, participated in forums with other organizations to explore lessons learned from Maria that can help the community be better prepared in the future. As part of these efforts the Executive Director visited New Orleans in the company of Puerto Rico leaders from across various sectors with the NGO Friends of New Orleans, in a trip sponsored by the Skip Battle Foundation, organized by ConPRmetidos, a local NGO. In the upcoming days, UFPR will host a health forum to discuss best practices to serve the health needs of the most remote communities during disasters.
To support the plans set forth by the organization, providing information and transparency to our donors and stakeholders has been a key area of focus. As part of this UFPR publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting its achievements. Also, the organization lists all grants on its website and periodically updates this information. In addition, UFPR has an active presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) providing updates on the organization as well as on the achievements of the NGOs receiving the funds. It currently has more than 135,000 followers on Facebook. For more information, please visit www.unitedforpuertorico.com.
“Many of the NGOs have been reporting to us and their moving stories are a powerful testament of the impact of this social investment in disaster relief and recovery,” said Rivera. UFPR actively monitors the work done by the NGOs and results obtained from the donations.
“We are proud of the efforts achieved during the past seven months. Through the NGOs, we are helping to rebuild stronger communities,” said the UFPR Executive Director. “At UFPR, we are humbled by the trust granted and extremely grateful for the contributions from our donors. We are committed to honor them by ensuring the adequate distribution of all donations to continue to help the people of Puerto Rico recover,” added Alemán, the Chairman of the Board.
About United for Puerto Rico
United for Puerto Rico is nonprofit NGO certified as 501c3 entity by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. It was created after the Office of the First Lady of Puerto Rico called for members of the private sector to join in the relief effort after Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico on September 6. After the catastrophic impact of Maria, on September 20, the organization saw the need to formalize and strengthen its structure as an entity separate from the government ruled by a board of nine directors from the private sector with one ex-officio government representative, the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Treasury, who has no vote. For more information, please visit www.unitedforpuertorico.com.