MIT Public Service Center

Work in Kendall Square to develop a volunteer network and help with administrative tasks at Community Water Solutions, a small non-profit that brings clean water to villages in Ghana

www.communitywatersolutions.org

Background

Community Water Solutions (CWS) is a not-for-profit social enterprise founded by MIT alums that partners with rural communities in developing countries to establish sustainable water treatment businesses. These businesses are owned and operated by the communities that they serve, and use simple, affordable technologies to enable the treatment, distribution and storage of clean, safe drinking water. The maintenance and operation of these water treatment businesses is funded by revenue from the sale of drinking water, while the capital necessary to establish them is generated from CWS’ Fellowship program and CWS fundraising activities.

To-date, CWS has served 7 villages in northern Ghana, providing 5,200 individuals (including over 1,100 children) with a permanent source of safe drinking water. In addition to reducing childhood mortality, clean water improves quality of life, school attendance, and economic activity. In order to expand our impact both at home and abroad, CWS has recently launched the CWS Fellowship Program, a three-week water education and leadership training experience in Northern Region Ghana. The purpose of the fellowship is to teach individuals about the global water crisis, and inspire them to become leaders in the field of international development. Exceptional fellows will have the option of staying with CWS for a longer period of time to become leaders in the Fellowship Program or in other capacities. CWS believes that this program is the future of our organization. It will not only allow us to expand to more villages more quickly, but will also enable us to spread awareness about the global water challenge and inspire young people to join us in our efforts to find a solution to this crisis.

The Challenge

Community Water Solutions is currently facing two challenges. The first challenge is mainly administrative. Over the past year, CWS has grown significantly and the daily administrative tasks are becoming too much for our one full-time employee to handle. These tasks include processing donations, writing thank you notes to our donors, updating our website (and social media sites), updating monitoring sheets with the newest data from our villages in Ghana, and staying updated on new grants, pitch competitions and other funding opportunities. This problem could be tackled by having some extra help, in the form of an intern, who could commit 2-4 hours a week to these tasks. By helping our organization with this administrative challenge, a student will gain an inside look at what it takes to run and grow a start-up not-for-profit corporation. They will learn valuable skills such as donor relations, grant writing, as well as website development and maintenance.

Our second challenge requires a little more creativity than the first. CWS has recently launched a new Fellowship Program, which is a three-week water education and leadership training experience in Northern Region Ghana. Our first team of Fellows worked in Ghana this June and we are planning to bring more teams this winter and next summer. Every Fellow from our first team expressed an interest in staying involved with CWS in the future, but need help figuring out how best to engage these volunteers. More specifically, the Fellows would like to stay connected through an “alumni network”, where they can stay in touch with each other, and with our organization. While there are currently only 5 “alumni,” we would like to develop this network now, so that it is ready to go for our next class of Fellows. This project is something that the student could completely develop on their own; we are completely open to suggestions. We have brainstormed ways to use social media to build this network online, but would be open to other ideas as well. We hope that this project could also help recruit future Fellows, linking interested volunteers to alumni in their region who could answer any questions that they may have and help them fundraise.

Qualifications, Preferences, and Assets

Experience with website development and social media.

Time constraints

We would welcome help with this task at any time!

Contact

MIT students interested in developing projects around these ideas should contact Kate Clopeck, Executive Director, at kclopeck@communitywatersolutions.orgor call 508-561-8900

PSC Support

MIT students who develop projects around these ideas may apply for support from the Public Service Center's Internships program. Please check the program descriptions and deadlines and talk to program staff to determine which is most appropriate for your needs and project.

If you want to volunteer or you have funding from outside the PSC that enables you to work on this project, that's great! However, please do let us know if you work on a project you saw advertised here, even if you don't use our funds. And remember, the PSC staff are happy to advise on service projects even if we are not funding them ourselves

 
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