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Peace Corps Volunteer

Community Economic Development Facilitator

Project description

Peace Corps Dominican Republic’s Community Economic Development (CED) project is uniquely positioned to support economic security growth and upward economic mobility of some of the country’s most economically marginalized households, with a specific focus on contributing to the economic prosperity of youth and women. CED Volunteers serve as facilitators and trainers to assist in developing the capacity of individuals to secure employment, create their own self-employment opportunities, and successfully manage job income and enterprise profits for the benefit of their households. Furthermore, the project aims to facilitate linkages between national economic development initiatives and the daily reality of individuals in communities where Volunteers live and serve, thereby improving economic opportunities at both the person-to-person and community levels. Here are two examples of how Volunteers do this:

1) CED Volunteers promote financial literacy, entrepreneurship and employability in community high schools, co-teaching classes and facilitating after school youth workshops. This activity directly supports one of the Dominican government initiatives which is to promote business development in young people, especially in regions and communities where there is little employment, and where most people generate income based on their own ingenuity and creativity within small businesses.

2) CED Volunteers also support economic development in their communities working one-on-one with small businesses. This consultation can include working together to improve the businesses’ financial practices and marketing. Occasionally, CED Volunteers will also consult with aspiring entrepreneurs to plan and open new businesses.

The CED project seeks to empower youth, small business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools to determine and manage their economic destiny at the grassroots level in rural and semi-urban communities. Broadly speaking, CED Volunteers work with individuals, both students and adults, to build and improve their business skills.

The CED project targets four areas of Community Economic Development:

• Increase youth’s capacity to pursue and achieve economically productive livelihoods.

• Increase individuals’—especially women’s—capacity to implement small-scale economic activities and manage profits.

• Strengthen the organizational capacity of community-formed groups (associations, cooperatives, women’s groups, etc.).

The goal of the program is to help Dominican households achieve economic security and upward economic mobility. Volunteers are placed in communities with a high school, several small businesses, and in some cases, a community-based group. Volunteers’ activities include:

•Co-teaching financial literacy, entrepreneurship and employability courses to high school students. CED Volunteers can expect to spend 12-15 hours in high schools, co-teaching classes and facilitating after school workshops.

•Consulting with small business owners to improve business practices.

•Facilitating workshops with community members to improve income generation.

•Consulting with small business cooperatives to improve their overall organizational structure and business activity.

• Developing and delivering trainings on money management, such as savings and budgeting for either adults or youth.

Required skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years professional experience in business management

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Business Administration degree or a Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, or Finance
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business or economics discipline
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, Education or related field
• Experience working with entrepreneurship
• Experience in one or more of the following areas: sales and marketing, bookkeeping, management or administration
• Experience working with youth
• Experience teaching or tutoring, especially in mathematics
• Working in community management

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Peace Corps Dominican Republic recommends candidates meet one of the following criteria but there are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework
C. Proficiency in another romance language (e.g. French, Portuguese, Italian)

It is important to maintain an engaged attitude about language learning throughout the experience. Volunteers in the Dominican Republic live, learn, and work in Spanish. Spanish is necessary for day-to-day activities in the community, and over the course of the initial 10-week training period, Peace Corps Trainees receive a significant amount of training and support in the learning of Spanish. Volunteers will also need to dedicate substantial time to learning and practicing language in day-to-day life. Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of oral proficiency at the end of the training program in order to continue their service.

Peace Corps Dominican Republic highly encourages all Invitees to begin working on their Spanish by taking classes or tutoring sessions prior to departing for the Dominican Republic. Trainees who arrive in country with low levels of Spanish sometimes find reaching proficiency challenging within the 10-week training period.

Living conditions

Volunteers will live with a host family during the 11-week Pre-Service Training in a community near Santo Domingo. After Pre-Service training, Volunteers will live with a second host family for the first 4-6 months of service in their assigned community to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers are able to move out on their own after the obligatory 4- to 6-month homestay there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.
Transportation
Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and towns. Living conditions and transportation limitations can be physically demanding. Volunteers will have to use the available transportation in their assigned community. Generally, local transportation includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis. In some cases, Volunteers may have to walk long distances to work activities. Houses usually have corrugated steel or cement roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities such as running water, electricity, or reliable cell service. Most communities have cell service within the community, however, there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access reliable service. Although most communities have electricity, power outages are common.
Appearance
Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies, particularly the Dominican Ministry of Education. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator about a person, and a Volunteer’s appearance will influence their relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers, which is at minimum a clean polo shirt, dress pants or skirt and closed toed shoes.
Social Identity and Diversity
Peace Corps Dominican Republic (PC/DR) provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Volunteers use their experiences as members of different underrepresented groups to support their peers as they may navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Board, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQI+ Support Group. Please see below for additional considerations.
Sexual Orientation: The country has a Roman Catholic constitution, and a large portion of the population is either Catholic or Evangelical Christian. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Dominican Republic, many people reject homosexual relationships. However, LGBTQI+ Volunteers find safe spaces within the Peace Corps Dominican Republic network and when visiting larger metropolitan areas.
Ethnicity: Different ethnic, racial or national minority American identities are often not viewed as “American.” Volunteers may thus experience negation of their American identity due to local assumptions of what an American looks like. While some Black/African American Volunteers may blend in with the local Dominican population, others including those who choose to wear their hair in its natural state or braided hairstyles, or who have darker skin tones, may be perceived as Haitian. This may lead to one’s citizenship being questioned and ultimately may lead to differential treatment. Volunteers find support and representation within active Dominican natural hair movements in larger cities. Similarly, with an increased focus on migration issues around the world, Volunteers of Latin American decent may also have their identity questioned and/or mistaken for Central and South American migrants. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences on the diversity of American culture and successfully complete their services with support from the PC/DR network and certain community members.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Dominican Republic: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

The Dominican Republic can accommodate cross-sector couples and couples serving together within the Community Economic Development sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for:

Community Economic Development Facilitator or English Language Teacher

All Trainees are required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training. If you and your partner are assigned to different sectors, you will live apart for most of Pre-Service Training. Couples who are in different sectors are usually allowed to visit each other for two weekends during the training.
After swearing in, Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their assigned community for a minimum of 4 months. For couples, this requirement is reduced to 6 weeks.
3 Couples maximum for the class. 1 cross-sector couple and 2 CED/CED couples.
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/.

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