U.S.-Mexico Foundation

People to People (P2P)

In January 2012, USMF received a multi-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop and roll out the P2P initiative to bring together U.S. business and civic leaders and selected Mexican communities in order to forge long-term understanding and collaboration between the two communities. We are conducting this program initially in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Yucatán. Through its MALI members and P2P, USMF generates significant interactions and long-term relationships at a bi-national level between Mexicans living in Mexico and Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the United States.

In order to launch the program, USMF deployed staff to Chiapas to conduct an initial evaluation of potential projects and communities that could benefit the most from P2P. We then presented our findings to a group of approximately 50 leaders in San Antonio convened initially by MALI members Hon. Henry Cisneros, José Villarreal and Raúl Rodríguez in June 2012. Over the past year, the San Antonio group has created its own internal leadership structure for its participation in this program, divided up the group into project-specific subgroups, conducted three delegation visits to Chiapas, and we are now launching a second P2P program between Los Angeles and the state of Yucatan in 2014.


Aid to Artisans program

After school learning center in San Cristobal

Mobile medical unit

Mobile medical unit

Clinic built in Pocolúm
Reviewing student-led projects

Martha Smith, USMF CEO addressing the group in San Antonio at the initial P2P presentation in 2012.

Attendees to San Antonio meeting at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Hon. Henry Cisneros in the front row, with state legislators, business leaders, and leaders in the non-profit sector and academia.

Hon. Henry Cisneros, USMF Board Member, former San Antonio Mayor and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, convened the meeting and provided remarks.

Raúl Rodríguez Barocio, Josephine Ruiz Healy, TX State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, and Martha Smith

The San Antonio group and USMF together have been able to create an organized group of MALI members devoted to the development of communities in Chiapas.  In every case, the project selected for collaboration is designed and already supported by the local community or communities in Mexico and its impact goes beyond its location, serving dozens of communities at once.

Next steps

On September 9, 2013, members of the San Antonio Mexican American Leadership Initiative’s (MALI) People to People (P2P) delegation returned to Chiapas for a third time in one year. After the San Antonio delegation first met a number of non-profit organizations in Chiapas in November 2012, a delegation led by the Hon.Henry Cisneros returned on this occasion to inaugurate a playground that will serve several dozen communities. Led by the Hon. Henry Cisneros, Jose Villarreal and Dorothy Ettling, the San Antonio delegation joined community leaders, local and State education officials, parents and several hundred children of the local school to inaugurate a playground in Majosik, Chiapas. This event represents the culmination of a collaborative effort on one of three initiatives that began last year out of dialogue between the U.S.-Mexico Foundation San Antonio MALI group People to People program and communities in Chiapas. In Majosik, the group was presented with a proposal by the local students for a playground, after they assessed a need to provide positive recreational opportunities for young people. The playground, named “Park of the Three Cultures” after all the parties involved, fulfills a community need identified by local students and was developed with input from the students and community elders alongside technical and financial support from the USMF and the San Antonio group. The project’s completion, and the community’s invitation to the San Antonio delegation to attend the opening, captures the spirit of MALI’s P2P project; forging close bonds and long-term commitment between specific communities in Mexico and the United States to develop collaborative projects aimed at improving quality of life in the target communities in Mexico.

The community playground in Majosik is just one of several collaborative projects, including a campaign to expand market access for Chiapanecan women weavers, called Identidad: It's who we are, and a health education campaign undertaken by the San Antonio P2P group with Chiapas counterparts. The success of this first P2P project is inspiring groups of leaders in different cities to launch their own, with MALI’s Los Angeles chapter expected to launch its own P2P project with Yucatan in 2014.

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