OUR APPROACH

How we work

We believe the smartest path out of poverty is a self-directed one.  Our teams around the world listen to and partner with sponsored friends as they develop personalized plans and goals based on their unique challenges, needs and skill sets.
Family decisions icon
Families as decision makers
No one understands what a family needs to overcome their challenges better than that family. That's why your sponsorship helps them set personal goals.
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Goal development
With social workers' support, sponsored friends and their families determine how to use their sponsorship funds to achieve those goals.
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Strong communities
Parent groups work to foster leadership skills, learn new trades and start businesses. Over time, families become agents of change in their local communities.
SPOTLIGHT ON

Mothers groups

Mothers groups are the primary way parents and guardians participate in Unbound. Organized and encouraged by local staff, these small groups of 15-30 mothers from the same community meet regularly to encourage learning, leadership, entrepreneurship, accountability and mutual support.
CASH TRANSFERS

How they work

Ninety-eight percent of sponsored friends participate in Unbound programs that utilize cash transfers as the primary way to deliver benefits.
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Families establish their goals
Families create annual budgets icon
Families create annual budgets
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Families open bank accounts
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Unbound transfers money into their accounts

Why they work

Goal development
Control

Cash transfers give sponsored friends and their families the most flexibility in how and when to use their benefits.

Strong communities
Confidence

They promote dignity and leverage the ingenuity of parents, often mothers, in planning their family budgets.

Families as decision makers
Community

Parents can participate in local economies and create greater economic stability for other families in their communities.

Where We Work

We work in three main regions around the world: Africa, Asia and Latin America. Political climate, exchange rates, poverty levels and economic activity factor into our program locations, so we can provide support in areas where children, elders and families need it most and where your contribution can have the greatest impact.
Unbound Map

Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America with the majority of its population living below the poverty line. Indigenous communities, women and young people are particularly vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity because their income is insufficient to meet basic food needs.

Unbound's outreach in Bolivia began in 1988 and serves families in the country’s three main cities: Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and La Paz, and surrounding communities.

Many children in Bolivia leave school to help their families on farms or to assist in their families’ commercial activities. Others leave because they cannot afford fees, supplies or other school-related expenses.

Unbound sponsorship offers sponsored members and their families in Bolivia opportunities to build a path out of poverty. The program provides vital support and encouragement and assists with resources to meet basic needs and set and achieve goals for families’ ongoing development.

Through their participation in the Unbound program, families in Bolivia can discover in one another and within themselves the tools, talents and strengths needed to overcome the economic and historic cycle of poverty faced by their families and communities.

Colombia

Poverty, social injustice and violence continue to hinder the process of sustainable rural development in Colombia.

Unbound's sponsorship of children, young adults and elders living in poverty in rural and urban areas began in 1982.

A focus of Unbound’s Colombia programs is educating children to provide employment opportunities and keep them off the streets, away from gangs and crime. Programs that support education include tutoring, reading clubs, nutritional lunches and more.

When you sponsor a child in Colombia, you enable families to send their children to school, securing an education that will help them build a path out of poverty. Unbound programs in Colombia also empower mothers of sponsored children through small support groups of other parents. The groups encourage mothers to be active participants in the sponsorship program and employ leadership skills.

Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, those living in extreme poverty in Costa Rica have not benefited from economic improvements focused primarily on skilled laborers and those with secondary educations.

Unbound works with families to develop sustainable livelihoods and set goals for their ongoing development. Families see Unbound staff members as trusted friends who live in the communities they serve or nearby. Staff members regularly visit sponsored individuals and their families and learn their history, dreams and hopes. Regular community meetings are facilitated by staff and offer families a forum to discuss problems and share ideas for overcoming daily challenges.

Unbound's efforts with mothers are part of our long-term strategy of empowering parents and guardians to create equity and unity in their communities. Sponsorship not only provides benefits for sponsored children, but also helps improve the emotional and economic health of mothers.

Dominican Republic

Unbound has been working in the Dominican Republic since 1982.

Through mothers groups in communities where we work, the Unbound program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, gives mothers a voice in the sponsorship program and offers opportunities to help their families build a path out of poverty.

Education is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty, but without a strong, supportive family to encourage a student in their studies, success can be difficult to achieve.

In addition to providing resources so families can cover enrollment fees, school uniforms and technical training for students, Unbound strengthens the family unit through workshops on topics such as self-esteem, literacy, career planning, counseling services and more.

Ecuador

Ecuador is a country of great diversity. However, its social problems are dominated by inequality and exclusion among its poorest citizens. The persistence of poverty and malnutrition disproportionately affect young children, women and indigenous people.

In Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil, Unbound's sponsorship program offers sponsored individuals and their families resources and services aimed at helping them cover their most important needs while setting goals for their ongoing development.

Many families in the sponsorship program cope with unemployment, low income and low levels of education. Parents often migrate from rural areas to large cities or even other countries to make a better living, sometimes leaving their children in the care of others while they do what they can to ensure a brighter future for their families.

El Salvador

As is so often the case, rural women in El Salvador are among the most affected by poverty, due to the lack of employment opportunities, credit and training. As many as one in three Salvadoran households are headed by women, a percentage that increases in rural areas. Factors such as low investment in rural communities lead to men migrating to urban areas in search of work.

Unbound's sponsorship program, operating through a center in Santa Ana, works to strengthen family and community bonds. Program activities offer constructive outlets for youth, livelihood opportunities for families, and a forum for neighbors to build trust and work together.

Sponsorship helps families afford school fees, uniforms, books and supplies when children are young. As youth enter high school and college, education costs increase. Unbound scholarships help aspiring older students bear these increased costs.

Strong values promoted by the Unbound program help minimize the sense of discouragement families feel when faced with social pressures such as criminal gang activity. Unbound sponsorship works to motivate families to believe in themselves and their abilities.

Guatemala

More than half of the population of Guatemala lives below the poverty line. A significant majority of Guatemala’s indigenous population lives in poverty.

The most extensive outreach of any Unbound program is in Guatemala and is based out of Unbound’s center in San Lucas Toliman. San Lucas Toliman was home to Unbound's co-founder and president, Bob Hentzen, from 1996 until his death in 2013.

Through Unbound’s sponsorship program, families work to set goals to become self-sustaining as they build a path out of poverty.

Parents of sponsored children often choose to save part of their sponsorship benefits to buy more costly items, such as a bed or dresser, or purchase livestock to generate more income for their family. This helps families shift toward saving to generate additional income and meet longer-term needs.

Honduras

Unbound has worked in Honduras since 1982. Today, Unbound offers financial resources and livelihood initiatives and to help sponsored children, elders and their families access basic necessities and set longer-term goals to improve their quality of life.

Unbound also provides support so families can meet educational expenses, relieving some of the financial pressure and allowing children to continue their educations. With Unbound's support, more sponsored children are deciding to continue in school and more families are increasing their income-generating potential.

India

Unbound’s sponsorship program in India works alongside families to develop long-term personal and economic growth. The program serves sponsored members through offices located throughout the country.

Unbound works with families from many faith and cultural backgrounds to provide not only basic services but real hope. Women in India were the first in Unbound to implement mothers groups, beginning in 2001. Local staff members have witnessed and relied upon the strength and abilities of the mothers to move the sponsorship program, their families and their communities forward.

Mothers gather and participate in meetings, offering suggestions and encouragement to one another. The groups also save money, which is available to be used as low-interest loans to meet a variety of family needs or start or boost a small business.

Kenya

Kenya is a diverse nation with more than 40 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language and culture. The Unbound program in Kenya works with all these groups, and with people of many religious and cultural backgrounds, striving to be a unifying force among various communities.

Unbound programs in the areas of Nairobi, Meru and Kisumu help children take advantage of educational opportunities, empower parents of sponsored children to develop income-generating projects, and inspire and guide young people to make positive choices in their lives.

Decision-making is in the hands of primarily mothers, who choose to use sponsorship funds for their families’ most important needs. Families set goals and typically prioritize education, food, housing and health care. Through support mothers groups, women prioritize saving and have access to low-interest loans to start or expand a small business.

Madagascar

Most of the population of Madagascar lives in the countryside, where there is rapid deforestation due to the use of wood for cooking and slash-and-burn agriculture. As a result, many people are subject to environmental effects such as drought and may face hunger during a lean growing season.

The Unbound sponsorship program provides sponsored members the opportunity to access necessities like nutritious food, health care, home repairs and construction. The Unbound program in Antsirabe, Madagascar, focuses on helping families work toward self-reliance.

Unbound programs in Madagascar also support families of sponsored members by facilitating and encouraging self-help mothers groups. In these groups, mothers of sponsored children share knowledge, serve as a support system for each other and strive for economic self-sufficiency.

Mexico

Unbound programs in Mexico help families overcome the challenge of a high cost of living and few income opportunities.

In cases where fathers have emigrated to find work, families are headed by mothers. Small community-based groups sponsored by Unbound provide mothers with encouragement, access to low-interest loans and a place to develop leadership skills.

Unbound supports parents in their efforts to educate their children. Sponsorship in Mexico helps offset the cost of education. Scholarships provide extra financial assistance for service-minded high school and college students, and other programs provide positive outlets for youth to keep them away from criminal gangs.

Peru

The poverty rate in Peru dropped substantially in recent years but remains stubbornly high. Children are especially at risk, often putting in long hours working at hazardous mining or construction sites.

Unbound's Lima, Peru, program is bringing benefits to children, young adults and elders who find themselves on the margins of a rapidly advancing world. The program is working to strengthen family and community bonds as Peru transforms from a rural to an urban society.

A key characteristic of the Unbound program is empowering families living in poverty, so they can make their own decisions about the future. Unbound in Peru has focused on building partnerships with families to determine program benefits, activities and priorities — in short, truly owning the program instead of being recipients of charity.

Philippines

The Philippines is home to Unbound's second largest outreach, serving sponsored friends throughout locations across this island nation.

Unbound families support one another and foster an environment of learning to increase sustainable livelihood skills. Fathers of sponsored children in the Philippines have received awards for helping their communities deal with natural disasters and have helped develop legislation on disaster management. These efforts help communities respond to the physical and psychological effects of natural disasters.

Through sponsorship, families can access education, nutritious food, housing improvements health care, and more. Mothers have become leaders in their Unbound support groups and beyond, working to generate more income for their families and address issues facing their communities.

Rwanda

It’s impossible to think of Rwanda without thinking of the 1994 genocide, but the people of the country are determined to move forward from that dark period, focusing on their continued healing, innovation and growth.

Though it’s the smallest nation in East Africa, Rwanda has become a leader in the region in economic and social development and is committed to working with organizations like Unbound to eradicate poverty.

Rwanda is the newest addition to the community of Unbound nations. After significant preparation, including scouting of locations, hiring and training staff and enrolling families, our first friend was sponsored in Rwanda in January 2020.

Because of the high level of government cooperation, and because starting out in a new country allows Unbound a unique opportunity to put into practice all that we’ve learned over the years from families and staff in other places, we are excited for the Unbound adventure in Rwanda.

Tanzania

Tanzania’s population is diverse, representing more than 200 ethnic groups.

Unbound’s program in Tanzania helps sponsored children and elders and their families build a path out of poverty. Unbound sponsorship supports children’s education as one of the top priorities of families.

Unbound focuses on the holistic development of children. Through the support of sponsors, we provide consistent resources for families so they can cover educational costs and meet their children's physical and emotional needs. Sponsorship in Tanzania enables children to attend school on a consistent basis and improve their nutrition and health.

Uganda

Despite strides made in recent decades, Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Poverty remains firmly entrenched in rural areas, which are home to the majority of Ugandans.

Unbound’s program is based in Kampala, Uganda, with outreach to families in areas such as Masaka, Busunju and Ssekanyonyi.

Education and nutrition are priorities of families. The program helps families on a path toward economic self-sufficiency and achieving long-term goals through support for sustainable agriculture, health and sanitation initiatives, and a host of other activities.

Parents participate in small support groups that awaken individual initiative and creativity, offer encouragement and strengthen communities.