About the Initiative
The Oaxaca Fund Initiative is a two-year bi-national fundraising effort between the Fundación Comunitaria Oaxaca (FCO-Oaxaca Community Foundation) and the International Community Foundation (ICF). The Initiative will support key programs in the areas of community development, education, and nutrition and health working in five of the most highly marginalized regions of Oaxaca to promote grassroots indigenous initiatives for economic and community development. Every dollar raised will be matched 1:1 by the Ford Foundation up to a maximum of $300,000 USD.
The “Initiative” is an effort to address the root causes of Oaxaca’s ongoing political crisis by attending to social inequalities and improving the quality of life for its marginalIized citizens. Oaxaca ranks as the second poorest state in Mexico. Over 76% of its residents live in extreme poverty, lacking basic necessities such as food, water, education and healthcare; this is extremely high when compared to the average 42-45% poverty rate for the rest of the country. According to 2006 statistics released by Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática (INEGI-National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics), Oaxaca’s per capita income averaged the lowest in the country: $3400 USD, compared to $20,000 USD in Mexico City. The Human Development Report released by the UNDP in 2004 noted that Oaxaca has a human development index (HDI) of 0.7164 comparable to regions occupied by Palestine. Needless to say, with the current political crisis, Oaxaca’s economic productivity has worsened and poverty rates have increased drastically. Tourism, the state’s most important and only significant source of income, has critically declined, resulting in a loss of $800 million dollars to date.
As a result of the political turmoil and economic crisis, migration to the U.S. is greater than before. The state of Oaxaca has a total population of 4 million people, of which nearly 25% have migrated to the U.S. and other parts of Mexico. More than 90% of these migrants are residing in the U.S., primarily in the state of California: San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Oxnard, Ventura, and the San Joaquin Central Valley, and in other states such as Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and New York. In Mexico, states such as Baja California, Baja California Sur, Mexico City, Jalisco and Sinaloa attract seasonal and permanent migrants from Oaxaca because of their high demand for construction workers. The dynamics of migration pose a new set of challenges for the receiving communities, primarily in the area of housing, access to adequate health services, and language barriers.
For more than a decade, the FCO has worked directly with indigenous communities, assisting nearly 30,000 of Oaxaca’s marginalized citizens. The partnership between ICF and FCO is a response to the ever growing needs of these communities, based on the belief that the only way to cultivate productive communities, curtail out-migration, and build democracy in regions like Oaxaca is by fostering grassroots economic development opportunities in the most marginalized and remote areas of the state.