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Using Data to Drive Impactful Investments - Puente, Dominican Republic, (Fall 2019)


Using Data to Drive Impactful Investments - Puente, Dominican Republic, (Fall 2019)

Project Background:

Puente leverages mobile data and local volunteer networks to identify community needs and match them with smart, sustainable solutions. Our impact primarily comes from helping partner organizations operate efficiently (by accessing and using better data) to solve more problems with available resources. However, we’re also equipped to lead our own projects and bring in partners that can expand the project’s scope and scale. This case study provides a nice overview of how Puente identifies and solves problems in communities where we work.

Founded in 2018 by a team that includes two Notre Dame alumni (class of 2015), Puente now works across several regions of the Dominican Republic with operations based in the city of Constanza. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a lean, young, diverse team that is excited to work with ND students this semester.

Definition of Opportunity: Puente has surveyed communities across the Constanza region and possesses data on a wide range of unmet needs. Our goal is to act on this data while it remains current by designing one or more interventions to target needs exposed by our survey data. Puente hopes to invest up to $10,000 in community development projects by year-end, so students will use data (and local insights from Puente’s team on-the-ground) to answer the question: “how should we invest $10,000 to improve one or more Constanza-area communities?”

Initial Ideas:

We seek to work with motivated students on a real-world project that can have an immediate impact on populations in need. Our goal is to design a project from the ground-up, which involves identifying and validating community needs, understanding potential interventions, designing an execution plan, and much more. We hope to provide a dynamic, hands-on experience to students interested in learning more about what it takes to implement community development projects internationally.

Students will initially work with Puente’s leadership team to analyze survey datasets and geospatial maps, looking for unmet needs and actionable project opportunities

Needs identified in the data will then be validated by Puente’s local team, who will also evaluate the community’s motivation, cohesion, and resources

Students will simultaneously research and compare the various interventions available to address needs in Puente’s datasets

We must understand how our project can have the greatest impact on the most people given budgetary constraints. Comparing the expected benefits and costs of interventions like water filters, latrines, roof repairs, educational programs, etc. will help us decide where resources should be directed first

After validating community needs and matching them with interventions, students will work alongside Puente’s team to write one or more real project proposals

Puente then hopes to fund and implement the projects through both internal capacity and a network of NGO and foundation partners

What Does Success Look Like?

A successful semester results in Puente being able to move forward with one or more actionable project proposals. Project proposals that frame interesting opportunities or are beyond Puente’s range of capabilities may also be impactful -- we can continue pursuing them after the semester ends, and share them with partners more equipped to execute. In either case, the work we do this semester can result in changed lives for many families and communities in the Constanza area.

Meet the Team