We are thrilled to announce that the International Development Research Center (IDRC), a Canadian government agency awarded a collaborative two-year grant called Women Rise to our Salvadoran entity, Asociación Programa Velasco (APV), York University, Toronto Metropolitan University, Marquette University and Pesas y Poder (PyP). The multilayered project, implemented from 2022 through 2024 is entitled: Innovation in Resilience to Trauma Programming for Fostering Women’s Post-pandemic Recovery in El Salvador. This particular grant is highly competitive and is incredibly unique because it funds both research and direct practice. Our project is structured with three hubs:
- Practice Hub: Partial funding supports the following three initiatives:
- APV’s Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP): The WEP is a two-year training program to strengthen their economic and social wellbeing and build a greater capacity for decision making through business development opportunities and mental health services. APV’s 2023-204 WEP cohort consists of 56 entrepreneurs.
- PyP’s Trauma-informed Body Resistance (TIBR): PyP’s mission is to promote gender equity, community empowerment, and healing from trauma through the practice of strength sport in El Salvador. Noelle Brigen is the founder of PyP and is also a researcher involved on this project through her institution, Marquette University. PV and PyP collaborated a number of years ago on a pilot project with our graduate entrepreneurs to understand how their relationship with their body and treat trauma through body movement and weight lifting. Read more about the pilot project in this published article.
- APV Incubating PyP: PyP has grown over the years to develop and deliver fitness and leadership curriculum to Salvadoran people of all genders and ages at a community gym for marginalized neighborhoods on the outskirts of San Salvador. We have witnessed how necessary PyP’s gym and work is and we are honored to support PyP in becoming a legalized organization in El Salvador. APV serves as PyP’s fiscal sponsor in El Salvador so the organization has legal representation and its employees can obtain insurance and benefits while they apply and await for non-profit legal status. This multimedia post highlights Pesas y Poder.
2. Research Hub: Researchers are curious to explore how resilience is conceptualized by Salvadorans women, men, and binary people living as part of the diaspora in the U.S and Canada. Researchers are investigating how Salvadoran women and older girls experience personal and collective resilience to trauma and the intergenerational processes that foster resilience. The community-based, participatory action research explores promising interventions that leverage gendered knowledge for post-pandemic recovery.
3. Education, Leadership Development and Knowledge Mobilization and Exchange Hub: Just as its name implies, events under this hub foster knowledge mobilization and exchange among academic and non-academic project partners and target a diverse group of audiences such as government and policy-makers, front-line practitioners, and other researchers investigating similar topics. Events include institutes, trainings, and presentations for both project staff and/or the general public.
The Impacts thus far: Opportunities!
This is the first time PV/APV has been awarded funds from a government institution. In addition to receiving partial funding to implement our core service (which is a huge opportunity in itself) this grant is filled with opportunities that bring credibility to our work, ‘put us on the map’ by giving us exposure to new audiences, embolden us to take on more of a leadership role among other institutions and entrust us with the responsibility to help influence the process and practices of research in El Salvador. More opportunities include:
- Travel to Kenya: In January, the IDRC launched the Women Rise grant by hosting a training for grant recipients in Nairobi, Kenya. An APV staff and two other project colleagues attended the training and met with researchers and practitioners from all around the world!
- Train: In February and in July, project staff from all the collaborating organizations (over 20 people!) gathered to share about each organization’s work, developing partnership protocols, and train on ethical and research guidelines.
- Consult: The APV and PyP staff meet regularly with the research staff to discuss cultural nuances, ethical considerations, and logistical operations involved and related to carrying out the research activities and other project activities.
- Travel to Argentina: While you’re reading this article 3 of our staff members and 5 other project collaborators are in Buenos Aires, Argentina representing our project at the IDRC Mid-Project Regional Latin America meeting to share our progress and learnings so far. This is another incredible leadership and professional development opportunity for staff and our organizations.
We extend our sincere appreciation to our fellow grant partners and collaborators, our donors, staff, and our participants who have believed in our work over the last 16 years. Each person gives more meaning to our phrase that moves us: “Accompanying to empower in El Salvador.”