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Plant With Purpose Expands Work in Ethiopia with Support from Helmsley

February 25, 2019 – Today, Plant With Purpose announced new funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support expansion into Ethiopia – its eighth country program to date. The three-year Helmsley grant will support Plant With Purpose to sustainably improve the livelihoods, food security, and economic resilience of 1,000 rural farming families in the Amhara region.

Families living near Lake Tana in the Blue Nile watershed of the Amhara region face daily the impact of severe poverty and environmental degradation – the results of long-term population pressure, sedentary agriculture, climate change, and extensive cattle herding in the region. Without reliable access to productive cropland, formal financial services, or climate-smart, sustainable agriculture, families struggle to invest in their future or in their communities and are particularly vulnerable to environmental shocks and personal emergencies.

Scott Sabin, Executive Director at Plant With Purpose shared, “After 35 years of investing in the lives of the rural poor globally, we are thrilled to partner with the Helmsley Charitable Trust and local communities to reverse cycles of deforestation and poverty in Ethiopia.”

Plant With Purpose’s new program in the Amhara region will take a holistic approach to reverse this cycle of poverty and deforestation. The project will establish Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), in which members save and mobilize their money to offer internal loans for investing in farms, small businesses, and children’s education.

Additionally, Plant With Purpose will empower positive environmental change through farmer workshops on climate-smart, sustainable agriculture, and will partner with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and local schools to support stewardship programs in the community. Protected for centuries, the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches have preserved some of the only remaining primary forests in the region, providing significant opportunity for ecological conservation and regeneration throughout these ‘church forests.’ Together with the community members and their churches, Plant With Purpose will work to see livelihoods improved in a sustainable way. Partnership with local churches will also serve as the primary vehicle for spiritual renewal within the Amhara Region and will include hosting leadership training that equips local leaders to effectively serve and empower their communities.

“Building resilience at the community level is at the core of Helmsley’s grantmaking. We believe Plant With Purpose’s holistic approach can help people in a rural, underserved area where access to resources is a daily struggle,” says Trista Kontz-Bartels, Program Director at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Our partnership with Plant With Purpose in Ethiopia seeks to ensure a better future for more vulnerable children, their families, and their communities.”