$30,000 grant from CDF will spur co-op recovery in Puerto Rico

Six months after Hurricane Maria, electricity is still not fully restored in Puerto Rico. [photo: NRECA] Six months after Hurricane Maria, electricity is still not fully restored in Puerto Rico. [photo: NRECA] Six months after Hurricane Maria, electricity is still not fully restored in Puerto Rico. [photo: NRECA] The Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) made a $30,000 grant to the League of Cooperatives of Puerto Rico (Liga de Cooperatitivas de Puerto Rico) to help cooperatives on the island recover from the damage caused in September by Hurricane Maria.

The League of Cooperatives, known as the "Casa Grande" of the Puerto Rican cooperative movement, is a non-profit organization that works to promote, develop and strengthen cooperatives in Puerto Rico through advocacy, education programs and direct services to cooperatives. 

The League will use the funding from CDF's Cooperative Disaster Recovery Fund to operate a small grants program, distributing assistance in $2,500 to $5,000 increments. Applications, which will be accepted through May, will be reviewed by a committee made up of the League's board of directors and two representatives from the League's Cooperative Development Group.

"CDF is glad to be able to offer recovery assistance to our cooperative neighbors in Puerto Rico," Executive Director Leslie Mead said. "The grant is made possible by the generosity of the many cooperative businesses and individuals who made contributions to our disaster recovery fund."

CDF raised more than $102,000 for disaster recovery in 2017. Partnering with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), CDF collected $64,000 from cooperative utilities and individuals to help rural electric co-ops and workers recover from the summer's storms. This winter, grants were distributed to co-op organizations in Texas, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida to help with recovery from the most financially devastating hurricane season in history.

Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico with 155 mile-per-hour winds on September 20, 2017, drenching the island with more than 30 inches of rain. While cooperative businesses on the mainland have been rebuilding after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria, recovery in Puerto Rico remains slow. Six months after the storm, electricity has still not been fully restored. 

"The cooperatives were the ones that facilitated the recovery process in almost all our towns, even though most of them suffered damages to their structures and loss of electricity," Mildred Santiago Ortiz, Executive Director of the League of Cooperatives said. "For us it is very important that we have this help so we may continue assisting the cooperatives as they continue to offer excellent services to the population."

The Cooperative Development Foundation promotes community economic and social development through cooperatives. CDF is a thought leader in the use of cooperatives to create resilient communities, including the housing and care needs of seniors. Through its funds, fiscal sponsorships and fundraising, CDF provides grants and loans that foster cooperative development domestically and abroad. CDF's Cooperative Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding cooperative leaders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. each year.

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