Nelson Colon

Synergos Senior Fellow & President, Puerto Rico Community Foundation

Nelson Colón is the President of the Puerto Rico Community Foundation (PRCF) since January 2000. He is also the Director of the Consortium for Community Economic Development of the Foundation, with the Puerto Rico Community Foundation being the first community foundation organized in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Foundation focuses on building community capital with an equity lens to strengthen human, social, cultural, financial, housing & infrastructure for youth and women in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Colón joined (PRCF) in 1988 as Program Director. As Program Director, he played a major role in conceiving, designing and managing several of the major initiatives undertaken by the Foundation, including the Institute for the Development of Philanthropy and the Consortium for Community Economic Development, of which he is currently the Coordinator. Dr. Colón organized and directed the First International Conference on Philanthropy, held in San Juan in 1997. He designed and was lead instructor at a series of workshops on foundations and community development corporations in Bogotá, Colombia in 1995 and has been a panellist and guest lecturer at two annual conferences of the Council on Foundations and two Community Foundation Conferences in the U.S.

Prior to joining the PRCF, Dr. Colón was Executive Director of the Hispanic Office for Planning and Evaluation, in Boston, Massachusetts. In San Juan, he also founded and directed the Caribbean Project for Peace and Justice. He has taught anthropology at Inter American University of Puerto Rico and conducted courses at the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Massachusetts, as well as serving as consultant to the Department of Higher Education, the Tamahulipas University in Mexico, the University of the Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Embassy in Panamá. He has been Principal investigator in several qualitative studies including one on Community-Based Funding and NGO Sustainability in the Caribbean. Dr. Colón brought his expertise in program design and financial sustainability to the Synergos Senior Fellows Program.

Dr. Colón received a Masters of Art in anthropology from the State University of New York and a Doctorate in education from Harvard University

PRCF’s mission is to build community capital anchored in the development of community capacities for social transformation and economic self-sufficiency, and to strengthen local philanthropy to stimulate investment in communities and maximize the yield of each contribution. Established in 1985 by the National Puerto Rican Coalition, the PRCF’s four-fold strategy includes a focus on building capacities in the human, financial, social, and physical aspects of the community through multiple program areas which include: economic development; community development; and education, art, youth, and health. In addition to technical assistance and capacity-building which comprise more than half of all program activity, PRCF also focuses on the transferal of organizational knowledge to community-based organizations, youth involvement in the grant-awarding process, and fostering a new philanthropic culture in Puerto Rico based on long-term giving and a set of culturally specific strategies.

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