• Congratulations to the 2017 NorCalPCA Grant Recipients! see more








    to the 2017 NorCalPCA Grant Recipients!

    We are proud to announce two projects that have received funding from the NorCalPCA Grants Program!


    1. $2,000 to Save Rivers to build a pontoon and jetty for the Long Ekang community in Sarawak, Borneo.
    Save Rivers is an indigenous-led grassroots organization and a partner of the Borneo Project, located in Berkeley, CA. NorCalPCA members Liz Varnhagen and Bruce Moen are active in the Borneo Project. The NorCalPCA Grant will be used to purchase project materials.
    Long Ekang, located on the Baram River, has a population of more than 500 people, many aged 50+. The river is the commercial and transportation lifeline for the community.



    The pontoon and the jetty, built over 30 years ago, was damaged by flooding in May 2017. A construction plan and project supervisors have been identified. $3,500 was already donated for the project. The total cost estimate is $8,540. Other funds needed will be raised by the community itself.

    2. $1,000 for the composting latrines project in Alto Playon, Darien Region, Panama.
    The 280 inhabitants of Alto Playon live on an indigenous reserve and follow a subsistence life of farming, fishing and hunting. This project was proposed by NorCalPCA member Moiz Kapadia, RPCV Panama, who served there in 2010-2012. We will hold NorCalPCA funds for this grant up to July 31, 2018 for Moiz and his team to raise an additional $1,000. If the outside support is not received, the funds will be returned to Grants.
    NorCalPCA Grants previously awarded $2,000 in 2015 for the Alto Playon project. After several obstacles were overcome, the funds were released in Spring 2017 for actual construction. With the recent completion of more latrines, the Alto Playon community is very enthusiastic to continue building them. The community members provide all labor needed and 40% of the materials cost. The Grants Committee likes this project and wants to encourage Moiz Kapadia and his colleagues to look beyond NorCalPCA Grants for the additional funds they require. By contributing our name and part of the financial support, we hope to encourage other funders to provide the amount necessary for the Alto Playon project to continue.

    Thank YOU!

    Funds for the NorCalPCA Grants program come from the sale of International Calendars each year as well as individual contributors and occasional fundraisers. We are grateful to the following donors who made direct financial contributions to the NorCalPCA Grants Program between October 2016 and November 2017. Your generosity gave us an even greater opportunity to impact community development in the spirit of Peace Corps!
    Pamela Boyle
    Janet Espinosa
    Anne Fitzgerald
    Lee Gallery
    Andrew Grimstad
    Emily Hradec
    Marilyn Hyde
    Rick Kaye
    Sandra Leon
    Richard Morten
      Susan Neyer & Pete Johnson
    Elaine Neufeldt
    Bryce Norton
    Rossmoor Residents
    Karen Rice
    Virginia and Thomas Rue
    Janet Thibault
    Liz Varnhagen
    Meredith Miller Vostrejs
    Beany Wezelman


    Donate Now!

    Help Support the NorCalPCA Grants Program

    with your purchase of the 2018 International Calendar
    The calendars make great gifts for the holidays!

    Each year the Madison, WI, RPCV group produces a spectacular calendar. This stunning calendar not only features photos of people in Peace Corps countries, but also many interesting facts about the countries and special events to commemorate every day of the year.

    $12.00 ea. + shipping

     2015 Grants Project Update

    NorCalPCA Member Janet Espinosa recently provided information of her Honduran community of Yorito, which in 2015 received a grant from NorCalPCA.

    "The $2,000 grant inspired the community volunteers to continue to improve their communities with more latrines and pilas as well as a few roofs and cement floors. The family gardens are doing extremely well and health is improving. Now we are expanding to water filters that they have learned to construct."

    Janet has continued to support the efforts, through her partnership with her local church community in Gilroy, California, and her trips to the Yorito Community. She reported that local Honduran volunteers have worked in 6 area medical clinics.  In recognition of their efforts, those volunteers were provided a small amount of money to buy supplies for a community sanitation project of their choice.

    "Just wanted you to know that the grant caused miracles to happen and its benefits continue."

    NorCalPCA Grants Program History

    NorCalPCA has had a Grants Program since 1981. The addition of internet and cell phones changed the methods we use to communicate with our Peace Corps communities, but there is still great need for community support throughout the past and current Peace Corps world. The NorCalPCA Grants Program recognizes a few projects each year where a small amount of financial aid can have a large impact on a community. We look to current Peace Corps Volunteers in the field and NorCalPCA members to guide us to projects that our worthy of our support.

    Click here to learn more about NorCalPCA's Grants Program and how to apply!

    Thank you to our Grants Committee!

    Our sincere thanks to the Grants Committee for their diligence in reviewing the proposals and making a decision. In 2017, the Grants Committee Members were:

    Marikay Batina, East Bay
    Theresa Cameranesi, San Francisco
    Dorrie Dodge, North Bay
    Jillian Geissler, San Francisco
    Marilyn Hyde, Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay, Committee Chair
    Rick Kaye, North Bay, (via e-mail)
    Dick Morten, San Francisco
    Jim Munroe-Davidson, North Bay
    Susan Neyer, East Bay
    Holly Uber, Board Liaison to the Grants Committee
    Meredith Miller Vostrejs, South Bay

  • Congratulations to the projects that received funding from the NorCalPCA Grants Program in Fall 2016 see more



    Congratulations to the NorCalPCA 2016 Grant Winners!

    Thanks to your generous donations and calendar purchases, the NorCalPCA Grants Program was able to fund five community development projects this year for a total of $7,350! We hope you will continue to support NorCalPCA's Grants Program by making a donation and buying a 2017 International Calendar!



    2016 Grantees


    1.  $2,000 for the African Library Project (ALP), a volunteer based organization in Berkeley, CA, founded in 2005. ALP recruits book drive organizers in the United States and Canada and matches them with rural schools in sub-Saharan Africa. Peace Corps Volunteers in the field are an integral part of their program.  School villages agree to provide space, furniture, and library staff. 

    Our NorCalPCA Grant of $2,000 will be used to purchase 30 sets of HIV/AIDS readers for use in school libraries in southwest Kenya.





    2.  $2,000 to the Dokotoro Project, a volunteer organization founded by Mali RPCVs and based in Richmond, CA.  NorCalPCA Member Matt Heberger is the Project Leader. In 2012, a small group of Mali RPCVs envisioned a monumental task: to translate and publish the book Where There Is No Doctor (Hesperian Health Guides) into Bambara, a language spoken by 10 million people in Mali and surrounding countries. Due to political unrest, Peace Corps/Mali suspended its program in 2012, but the RPCVs continued to work, calling on former Peace Corps staff and host-country counterparts to work with them.  They hosted fundraisers, worked electronically with translators in Mali, and field-tested the results with health care professionals.  In the process, they realized that the materials necessitated an updated West African French translation, too. The result is newly completed, appropriate health text and illustrations in both Bambara and French, ready to be printed and used. Our NorCalPCA Grant of $2,000 will provide 130 copies of Where There Is No Doctor to communities and local health centers in Mali.



    3.  $2,000 to Build a School in Burma (BSB), co-founded in 2010 by RPCV Andrew Lederer of Los Altos, CA. To date, over 20 schools have been built in underserved communities of Burma through the efforts of BSB, partnering with NGOs and local communities who want education for their young people. Phara Gyi School in Arakan State, near the India border, was completed in 2013 for 100 students, but 180 children showed up to learn. The original water and sanitation facilities were inadequate for the numbers and a major storm in 2014 washed the latrines away.

    Our NorCalPCA Grant of $2,000 will be used to build two new school latrines and provide potable water.  The latrines will be constructed from reinforced concrete to survive the local weather conditions.




    4.  $850 to Young Community Health Workers in Tsarasambo, Madagascar, a club of young people facilitated by Health Adviser and current PCV Jenna Smith from Pacifica, CA. Five representatives of the club attended 2016 Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), a Peace Corps-led program for girls from throughout Madagascar. They returned with commitment to recruit their friends and create a program where they can promote the well-being of their community through activities that empower and educate them to make a difference. In the process the club members are learning valuable leadership skills.

    Our NorCalPCA Grant of $850 will be used for gardening tools and materials, art and mural supplies, and readers in their Malagasy language.



    5.  $500 to the Children’s Center in Baluti Village, Blantyre, Malawi. The project was proposed by Elaine Lo, RPCV Malawi 2007-2009, from Hayward, CA. The Chimwemwe Children’s Center was founded in 2009 in response to increased children living on the streets. The organization focuses on youth between 10-25 years, especially those effected by HIV/AIDS, drugs, and mental health problems. The Center facilitates counseling and educational support. A new Children’s Center is currently being built to continue and expand the resources available.

    A NorCalPCA Grant of $850 will be used for windows and other building infrastructure.

  • NorCalPCA’s Grants Program is actively requesting donations for our next round of grants this fall! see more








    NorCalPCA’s Grants Program is actively requesting donations for our next round of grants this fall!

    The more funds on hand, the more we can help worthy development projects! 

    Donations can be made through our website or checks can be mailed to NorCalPCA, P.O. Box 2547, San Francisco, CA 94126.


    NorCalPCA Grants Update!

    In Fall 2016, the African Library Project (ALP) based in Berkeley California, received $2,000 from NorCalPCA Grants to provide HIV/AIDs books for school libraries in Kenya.

    In a June 2017 report, we learned that the shipping container from the United States was full of books destined for 32 libraries. After a ceremony near Lake Victoria with school representatives and volunteers, the books were distributed to the correct locations “Kenyan style” in vans, wheelbarrows, motorcycles, boats, and on children’s heads. Other books were distributed at Rongo University, a local partner of ALP.

    Christine Helwick, Board Member of ALP, wrote,

    “As often happens in Africa, however, we had a few surprises when we went to purchase the HIV/AIDs books to supplement these school libraries. The publisher (Pearson) did not have all of the titles we ordered in stock (the bad news), and because the ones they did have were already in Nairobi, there were no additional costs for shipment (the good news).

    "We plan to spend the balance on 87 copies of the Hesperian book Where There Is No Doctor for our next Kenya shipment. This is the most widely used health care manual around the world. Of course, it contains updated information on HIV/AIDS, but also much more. The books will be purchased in August and held for the next Kenya shipment. We will be able to provide this life saving book to the libraries that have just arrived as well as the 60 new libraries in our next shipment.” (Grants note: Purchase of the Hesperian books was approved by the Grants Committee.)

    Learn more about ALP at Learn more about Hesperian books at


    Questions? Comments? Email

  • Alto Playon, Panama has started work on their new composting latrines funded by NorCalPCA! see more









    Congratulations to the Health Community in Alto Playon, Darien, Panama, which has purchased building supplies for their new composting latrines! $2,000 in NorCalPCA Grants Program funds were wired to Panama on April 28, 2017 for the project.

    What follows is the background to the story:

    The 280 tribal people in Alto Playon live a subsistence life of farming, fishing, and hunting on their indigenous reserve. A dry-season road operates 3-4 months a year; boat transport is used during other times. NorCalPCA Member and RPCV Moiz Kapadia served in Panama 2010-2012, where he worked to improve sanitation in the community of Alto Playon, Darien. Moiz introduced the community to a participatory sanitation project and they built four composting latrines (composting latrines are built above ground, are kept dry, and have the benefit of producing compost for the families-- see photo). Once the rest of the community saw the benefits of the latrines, other families followed. Interested families each signed a contract stating they would provide 40% of the materials costs and 100% labor. The next Peace Corps Volunteer, Amber Naylor, increased the project scope and secured a Peace Corps Partnership grant to complete 17 latrines within her first year. Still, more latrines were needed.



    Moiz wrote a proposal to the NorCalPCA Grants Program in Fall 2015 to build more composting latrines. The families involved would provide part of the materials cost and all labor.  $2,000 was approved through the Grants Program and NorCalPCA waited for the signal to transfer the funds. Unfortunately, the project had a few set-backs. The dry seasons of 2016 and 2017 came and went without resolution of project issues. The Peace Corps decided not to post another PCV in the area to coordinate the project. A bank wire to a specific account proved impossible when the local bank required money and monthly deposits to open the account.

    Finally, Moiz had an opportunity in April 2017 to visit Alto Playon and he requested that funds be sent to his host country counterpart, Wilberto G., in Meteti, an adjacent town.  Unfortunately, the transfer process proved very bureaucratic. The funds could not be sent to him and the wire was changed to Misael R. Numerous phone calls and e-mails between Panama and our NorCalPCA Treasurer in San Francisco finally resolved the wire issues. Although Moiz and Misael missed the last transport back to Alto Playon one night, they were successful in retrieving the funds and ordering supplies for the project.



    The project has involved many NorCalPCA members in addition to Moiz Kapadia, including the 2015 and 2016 Grants Committees which approved initial funding and supported the project through many set-backs; NorCalPCA Treasurer Terry Vogt who persevered to wire the funds; and the donors to NorCalPCA Grants in 2015-2016 who made this possible. Thank you for your support!

    Click here to see more photos from the project.

  • Ella Dowell posted an article
    The NorCalPCA Grants Committee awarded funds to six projects in the Fall 2015! See two here! see more

    NorCal Grants recently sold 200 international calendars, produced by RPCVs in Madison, Wisconsin.  This increased our funds available for grants by over $1,200.  This money will be added to funds donated directly to the program to form the “pot of money” we have to grant in 2016.  

    Thank you to NorCal member Susan Neyer for once again managing calendar sales and distribution.  And thanks to all of you who purchased calendars!  

    Donations to Grants are always welcome; more information is available on the website at under “Grants”.

    We encourage all of you who know about a worthy community development project to think about the NorCal Grants Program as a way to support the community.  

    The next proposals are due August 31, 2016.  

    More information is available on the NorCal website under “Grants”.  

    Feel free to contact Grants Chair Marilyn Hyde at with specific questions you might have.

    The Grants Committee awarded funds to Six Projects in the fall of 2015. Two of the six projects are featured below.  We will highlight the other four over the next few months.



    A Long-Standing Partnership: NorCal Grants and the Hesperian Foundation

    NorCal member Lee Gallery (RPCV, Ethiopia ‘64-‘66) originally heard about NorCal’s Grants Program in 2004.  She connected with us because she wanted to expand help to NorCal’s grants recipients.  

    As a volunteer for the Hesperian Foundation’s Gratis Book Fund, Lee sends Hesperian healthcare publications, such as Where There Is No Doctor, to the communities receiving NorCal Grants.  For 2015, that offer was extended to all six grants recipients.  

    Thank you again, Lee Gallery and the Hesperian Foundation!




    A Report from Grants Project in Yorito, Honduras

    In 2015, NorCal Grants awarded $2,000 to Community Agents of Integral Health (ACSI) in Yorito, Honduras.  The project was recommended by NorCal member Janet Espinosa of Gilroy, CA.  

    In the proposal, ACSI identified four locations in the neighboring mountain communities where they would build and demonstrate latrines, water storage basins, roofed houses, cement floors and family gardens.

    Janet traveled to Honduras in December.  Here is what she reported:
    I went to Honduras to be part of the graduation of “Community Agents of Integral Health,” and to present a symbolic check representing the grant recently made by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Northern California.  I also wanted to establish a construction schedule for the coming year, and give them a gentle push, since efficiency and time management are not strengths in most developing tropical countries.  What a pleasant surprise I received: they had already begun!
    On Tuesday, Fanny and Jovel, two of the leaders of ACSI, were ready right at nine to head into the mountains in the back of a 4-wheel drive police pickup and show me what had already been done.  They definitely didn’t need me to get them motivated.  After receiving the grant and going to the Honduran Secretary of Health, they determined that the community most in need was Quebrada Vieja which was not on our list.  They began anyhow.
    Quebrada Vieja needs to repair 10 latrines and construct 24 more.  We were welcomed by an enthusiastic community leader and individual home owners and given two types of plantains and bananas.  They showed us the six foot deep leach holes they had dug and were given instruction on placement of both the septic hole and toilet which will be installed in the coming weeks.  What a pleasant surprise it was to see such progress.  Why did I doubt the impact of this training and the enthusiasm of the volunteers?
    Janet noted that the NorCal grant of $2,000 will now benefit 5 communities, including Quebrada Vieja, spending $400 each instead of 4 communities spending $500 each.



    News from NorCal Grant in Kenya
    In 2015, NorCal Grants provided $1,200 to the Davila Children’s Home Chicken Project in Bomet County, the lower Rift Valley, Kenya.  

    The project was recommended by RPCV Adriana Alminiana, who served in Kenya 2013-2014 before her service was cut short due to country evacuation.  This project is meant to be income generating and nutrition-supplementing for the orphanage.  A portion of the eggs will be used to feed the children and caretakers at the orphanage, with the majority of the eggs being sold to local stores and restaurants for a profit.  

    David Davila in Bomet County, Kenya, reported that the Grants funds had safely arrived via Western Union and plans have moved ahead for the poultry project at the orphanage.  
    A chicken enclosure for 300 Red Layer chickens is being constructed, with the orphanage and local community funding all labor costs and providing additional supplies. Once the chickens have matured, they will begin producing over 5,700 eggs per month.