In 2014, our commitment to social innovation inspired the construction of the Community for Collaboration and Social Innovation (CCIS, by its Spanish acronym) at the headquarters of the Fundación Banco Popular. The CCIS, which is the first collaborative workspace for non-profit organizations and businesses in Puerto Rico, facilitates spaces for meetings and the exchange of ideas to achieve social change. There are 30 organizations or "neighbors" inhabiting the CCIS that bring together approximately 75 people who work at the space. The coworking membership includes services such as unlimited access to meeting rooms, printers, work materials, and the internet. Over 400 meetings and workshops are held annually by our collaborators and community members. We also host microentrepreneur bazaars and offer free seminars open to the public on social innovation issues.

Every day we depend more and more on technology for our everyday activities. Still, access to it is not easy for everyone. Unequal access to technology implies fewer opportunities as well as a diminished ability to participate in—and have an impact—on issues that concern us as citizens and members of a community.

Historically, Puerto Rico’s non-profit sector has played a leading role in offering essential services to foster the progress and development of individuals and communities. However, this sector does not have the financial resources needed to maintain their digital infrastructure up to date. Non-profits’ priority focuses on devoting resources to continue offering direct services and therefore depend on scarce flexible financing sources to strengthen their technological systems.

To address this gap, Fundación Banco Popular created the Tech Fund for Social Change initiative in an effort to support non-profit organizations receiving funds from the Foundation and that are neighbors of the Comunidad de Colaboración e Innovación Social (CCIS, by its Spanish acronym; the Community for Collaboration and Social Innovation) so they can acquire and develop technological tools and have access to continuous services with qualified technicians who will allow them to operate in an agile and efficient manner for the benefit of their communities.

Tech Fund for Social Change formed an alliance with Piloto151 to benefit Ciencia Puerto Rico. An open platform was developed to allow Ciencia Puerto Rico to integrate operational and programmatic processes that are traditionally done manually within organizations. The platform works without encryption or licensing, which allows it to be collaborative, accessible, and adaptable to more than one organization, according to their needs.

Gretchen Díaz Muñoz
director of the Science Education Program and Community Partnerships at Ciencia Puerto Rico.

“My experience working with the Tech Fund for Social Change team has been very pleasant and productive in finding effective solutions for our technological limitations. Being able to count on Fundación Banco Popular’s support has made it possible to explore technological alternatives that will allow us to increase the reach of our operations, and thus, the service and impact to our educational community,”

Fundación Banco Popular seeks to positively impact more organizations with the initiative and this can become a reality with your support. 100% of the donations received are channeled directly to organizations so they can acquire hardware and software as needed.

Donate to Tech Fund for Social Change

In 2012 the Foundation identified the need to foster alliances with the organizations it supports through the Social Investment Program to share best practices and collaborate in social innovation initiatives. The Fomentando Alianzas program convenes, connects, and helps organizations and fosters the right conditions to establish active collaboration networks according to their interests and challenges. Our partner organizations have come together in partnerships where they share ideas and resources to provide services to the community in special education, economic development, extended school hours, mentoring, alternative education, and education in the arts.

Casa de Niños Popular

In 2015, the Casa de Niños Popular was created as a unique Montessori educational project that seeks excellence, the dignified remuneration of its staff and the integration of economically disadvantaged children from neighboring communities.

The objective is to model and transmit knowledge and skills that stimulate the integral formation of the child; and to offer a varied curriculum that enriches the cognitive, linguistic, social-emotional and motor development of the children. We guide participants in the development of attitudes and feelings that allow them to maintain their own personality, in harmony with the norms and values of the community from an early age.

Casa de Niños Popular is located in the Calle Popular building, next to the Fundación Banco Popular and in front of Popular Center.

Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge

As a result of the fundraising efforts to benefit the victims of Hurricane María, we launched, together with the Hispanic Federation, the Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge (PRBIC) as a call to Puerto Rican organizations with the objective of forging alliances with different sectors to propose great ideas that provoke social change from and by the communities. PRBIC represented the first social innovation competition in Puerto Rico in which bold proposals for community transformation were supported with an unprecedented investment of $1.6 million.

Of the 80 proposals received, three projects led by the non-profit organizations Caras con Causa and the Corredor del Yaguazo, the Centro de Microempresas y Tecnologías Agrícolas Sustentables in Yauco (CMTAS) and Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Barranquitas Campus, were the main winners of the Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge.

The semi-finalist teams led by the Ismael Rivera Foundation; the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus; Centro del Estudiante y Maestro Investigador (CEMI); and the Puerto Rico Historic Building Drawing Society, received a recognition award of $25,000 each. In addition to the three main prizes, an honorable mention was given to Unidos por Utuado, with a $100,000 grant for its significant potential impact.

Michael Fernández
executive director of Caras con Causa

“Before, students used to come once a year to take a tour, but now, no less than 400 students are going to come every month to analyze data that has to do with their classes and that also impacts thousands of people.”