• This is the press release from Peace Corps describing the program that was discussed in the interview John Coyne conducted with Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.   (Correction: 6/20/20) This is an ongoing Peace Corps program.  From the Friends of Dominican Republic:

    Community Economic Development: Volunteers in this program partner with farmers’ associations, artisans, tourism service providers and community-based groups to improve organizational capacity, business skills and financial awareness.
    Those who attended the 50th Anniversary celebration and conference and took the ”Tour de Chocolate” in El Seibo saw a wonderful example of successful volunteer work in this sector. Over the years volunteers have worked with a cacao cooperative and a community farm demonstration. Another project, now in its fifth year, is the national youth business plan competition called “Construye tus Sueños .” Local NGOs and private sector donors provide support for this program. Like many of the major Peace Corps projects, the Build Your Dreams initiative was an idea developed and implemented by volunteers. Michael Rothstein is the Associate Peace Corps Director for the Community Economic Development program.

    It is still not clear to me exactly what the role of Mendelez will be in this ongoing program.  It would appear that private donors are already involved.

Programs to launch in the Dominican Republic

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2013 - The Peace Corps is today announcing a strategic partnership with Mondelēz International, Inc., the world’s largest chocolate company, to strengthen sustainable agriculture and community development efforts in countries around the world. The first partnership initiative will launch in the Dominican Republic this year and will focus on the development of business and entrepreneurial skills in youth through the “Build Your Dreams” training program.

“As leaders in their communities, Peace Corps volunteers serve as role models for youth who are ready to seize exciting entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “With its commitment to encouraging vibrant, sustainable communities in the Dominican Republic, Mondelēz International is an ideal partner to ensure the Build Your Dreams initiative inspires a new generation of leaders.”

Through the partnership, the Peace Corps will work with Mondelēz International to build upon the successful activities of community development volunteers in the Dominican Republic. Through Build Your Dreams programs, Peace Corps volunteers help youth in host communities build entrepreneurial skills, such as financial literacy and market research. The Build Your Dreams curriculum comprises 14 business-oriented lessons followed by regional conferences, where participating youth get help writing a business plan. The best plans from across the country are then judged by a panel at a national conference, and winners receive loans to start up their ventures.

Mondelēz International will work with Peace Corps volunteers in the field to strengthen the Build Your Dreams initiative and has pledged more than $165,000 over three years to support the program. During that time, the Peace Corps plans to train 1,200 Dominican youth through the Build Your Dreams curriculum, expects 360 business plans to be submitted to the national competition, and is preparing Peace Corps volunteers to provide consultation to 120 youth-led start-up businesses.

This partnership initiative follows a Global Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed between the Peace Corps and Mondelēz International in September 2012. The MOU outlines an agreement to develop and implement small-scale community activities and deepen the technical capacity of Peace Corps volunteers, staff and community members in countries around the world.