Fundacion El Arenal, founded 22 years ago, is a nonprofit community center for urban youth and children from Feria Libre, one of the poorest sectors of Cuenca, Ecuador. The foundation serves 75 children and adolescents and offers an after-school program, educative counseling, and a nutritional lunch program. Most families who rely on El Arenal are rural, indigenous migrants who come to the city's craft market to sell their wares.
El Arenal's services are free for families in Feria Libre, meaning it relies solely on donations and public funding. With a tight budget, Fundacion El Arenal works to support current services but struggles to grow and improve on the current services to the families and children. Expanding the organization's fundraising outreach will not only help El Arenal fund additional services, but it will also provide financial independence from public funding, which currently poses significant insecurity.
Most of El Arenal's public funding from the local government has been unstable and unreliable, affecting the nonprofit's ability to support the local community. For such reason, El Arenal is seeking alternative and independent fundraising sources to support operational costs for the current services offered to the 75+ children and youth that frequent the community center and expand services such as a family counseling program to develop a culture of engagement in the children's education.
El Arenal works primarily with underserved groups in Feria Libre, one of Cuenca's poorest sectors. These groups usually lack access to basic public services, meaning the El Arenal's work helps integrate these groups in the community while also providing support for their personal development. In the long-term, El Arenal aims to keep children off the streets, ensure they develop healthily, and break the cycle of poverty while providing emotional support and guidance to the parents.