Community Economic Development Promoter
Peace Corps Costa Rica’s Community Economic Development (CED) project aims to support community development organizations in rural areas where the local economy is driven by small-scale business activity such as tourism, agribusiness, and community-based services. CED Volunteers support two primary objectives:
1. Strengthen the capacity of local organizations to contribute to the economy;
2. Empower individuals to create and access economic opportunities.
All CED Volunteer activity will have a particular focus on women and youth.
The primary focus of this program is capacity building achieved through unique one-on-one relationships with current and potential entrepreneurs. Collaboration includes, but is not limited to, strengthening projects in the following areas: design, management, planning, marketing, finances, and raising capital. Volunteers also facilitate business skills workshops and simulations. CED Volunteers work in both formal (high school) and informal (communal meeting spaces; entrepreneur’s homes/businesses) settings.
Additional focus is on improving vocational skills, such as information, communication and technology (ICT), to better position community members to achieve future work or educational goals. Volunteers are provided training, curriculum materials, and resources to prepare them to offer computer literacy classes to community members.
Common CED Volunteer activities include, but are not limited to: serving as role models for community members, conducting community assessments, collaborating with high schools, planning and facilitating training activities, enrolling interested participants in training activities, guiding individuals in the adoption and application of entrepreneurial behaviors and/or improved business practices, and motivating community members to be engaged in the development process of their community.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.
Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline OR
• 5 years professional experience in business management.
Competitive candidates will have at least one or more of the following criteria:
• Community organizing experience (Managing or forming community groups, organizational development, strategic planning, using participatory community assessment tools, leading committees/community projects, project design and management, proposal writing, fundraising, etc.)
• Work experience in entrepreneurship, social business, small business or business simulations/competitions and willing to work as a workforce and business mentor, co-trainer, or co-facilitator in rural communities, especially with youth and women.
• Experience and willingness to work with youth (involvement in schools, clubs or with youth groups in activities related to career development, entrepreneurship; employability, vocational, and business skills in a mentor/co-teacher role; experience with 4-H, Junior Achievement, etc.)
• Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experience (familiarized with word processing and spreadsheet software, ICT teaching, social media, basic web design, basic bookkeeping, cost and pricing, and inventory control)
Required Language Skills
Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish
Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).
PC/Costa Rica strongly recommends interested candidates who are not native Spanish speakers to actively engage in Spanish language learning activities before coming to country in order to best prepare them for their service and for the intensive language training they will receive in Costa Rica.
Since CED Volunteers work fully in Spanish, Trainees must be able to achieve an Intermediate-High score on the language proficiency interview by the end of the 12 week Pre-Service Training (PST) in order to be eligible to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Trainees are tested at multiple points throughout PST, and work together with staff to develop an individualized language learning plan designed to get them to Intermediate High level.
In their community, Peace Corps Volunteers must perform tasks like conducting meetings, interviews and assessments with community members, facilitate and co-facilitate trainings or workshops, as well as reporting the main outputs to counterparts and community members in Spanish. Due to the complexity of tasks, PCVs are encouraged to continue their language learning process until they successfully reach the advanced proficiency level. Reaching this level can be difficult for PCVs who begin PST with very low levels of Spanish.
All Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) are required to live with a host family for three months of Pre-Service Training and the initial six months in their community of service. Living with a family has multiple benefits, including community integration, a sense of security, increased language skills, friendship, cultural exchange, and gaining a unique understanding of Costa Rican (CR) culture. It could also present challenges such as limited privacy, control and choice over diet, different family dynamics, rules and expectations. CR cultures are family-oriented. Families often expect PCVs to integrate into and respect their existing environment & norms. It is important that applicants think carefully about this requirement and are willing to embrace its challenges to maximize the rewards.
After the initial six months in the community of assignment, PCVs are eligible to live independently if they can identify a living situation in the community that meets Peace Corps’ (PC)’s housing criteria and receive PC approval. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and therefore PCVs must be open to the possibility of living with a host family during their entire service.
After fulfilling all Pre-Service Training requirements and being cleared to swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be assigned to serve somewhere in the country. PCV assignments are community- and institution-based, meaning that we will assign you based on how your skills and experience match the community and institutional needs and reality. PCVs must be willing to serve where needed most.
PCVs are placed in a variety of communities that vary in size and geographical characteristics, from remote, rural, indigenous communities to semi-rural towns, to peripheral cities. These communities will have limited resources, and limited access to the capital, with a combination of walking and public buses often requiring 2 to 8 hours of travel to reach San Jose.
PCVs should expect tropical living conditions. This includes high levels of heat and humidity, a heavy rainy reason, tropical insects and animals, mountainous terrain, and unpaved roads. PCVs should also expect limited access to electricity, phone service, and internet service.
PCVs working in Costa Rica’s under-resourced communities may find the work and the environment to be very challenging both physically and emotionally.
Most people in CR take great pride in being neat, clean, and well-groomed even on informal occasions. Work with schools and other professionals requires that PCVs demonstrate a professional attitude and appearance at all times. PCVs have to abide by the dress code and policies in the public school system, which tends to be conservative. PCVs should come prepared to use a business casual dress code while working.
Culture and Diversity:
While the Peace Corps/Costa Rica (PC/CR) office welcomes and celebrates the diversity of its PCVs, the culture and beliefs in some of the communities where PCVs serve may produce stigma and discrimination. PCVs will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity issues in their communities and host country. PCVs who are of a U.S. racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience curiosity or unwanted attention. Many PCVs have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share values, and deepen community members’ understanding of the U.S.
Serving in Costa Rica
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Costa Rica: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Costa Rica is happy to receive couples within the same sector. We will identify sufficient work opportunities within the same community for both Volunteers. Therefore, both partners must qualify and apply for:
Community Economic Development Promoter.
Generally speaking, Volunteer couples should expect similar living conditions for them as for single Volunteers. Couples will live with the same host families during the three months of Pre-Serving Training, and the first six months in their community of service.
After an initial six months in your assigned community, Volunteers are eligible to live independently if they receive approval by Program Managers and can identify a living situation in the community that meets Peace Corps’ housing criteria. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and all Volunteers, including couples, must be open to the possibility to living with a host family during their entire 27 months of service.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities.
For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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