Our Mission


FSD achieves community-driven goals through asset-based development and international exchange in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


FSD envisions a world where all people have the opportunity and capacity to direct economic, social, and environmental resources toward sustainable outcomes that improve lives and communities.


Start With Assets, Not Problems: We take an asset-based approach to development work. We begin by listening to the priorities set by our community-based partners at our international program sites. We then identify and utilize existing assets and capacity to address those priorities.

Motivate Community Ownership: We partner with leaders, organizations, and stakeholders committed to change, action, and social justice. We stress community ownership and participation before launching initiatives, especially in our volunteer and student programs.

Generate Enduring Results and Impact: We ensure the outcomes of our support have long-lasting benefits for our partners. We think hard on how to participate appropriately and effectively in development, and on how to become redundant so that our initiatives outlast our involvement.

Focus On The Site Teams: We are headquartered in San Francisco, but our 10 Site Teams direct our programs across Africa, Asia, and Latin America on the ground, 365 days a year. These teams build partnerships based on trust, respect, efficacy, and alignment with asset-based approaches.

Build Capacity: We strengthen the skills, competencies, and abilities of the leaders at our community-based partners and of our student and professional volunteers. We educate and train, facilitating the sharing of best practices across all of our stakeholders to support our partners’ priorities.

Be A Bridge: We relentlessly build a network of students, professionals, and passionate advocates for our community-based partners to access. We connect this network of assets and volunteers with the work of our partners through our international exchange and grantmaking programs.

Change Perspectives: We share our experiences and learnings about the complexities of development with friends, family, and colleagues. We promote cultural exchange and sensitivity, encouraging a reflective approach to navigating cross-cultural issues, confusions, and tensions.

Promote Reciprocity: We operate on our founding principle that producing strong community outcomes must be the priority. We base all partnerships, strategies, and decisions on the Fair Trade Learning concept that we must be ethical and reciprocal in our planning, implementation, and outcomes.


FSD's model incorporates four programs that support underserved communities in a collaborative and sustainable manner:

About_Our Mission.jpg Capacity Building: On-site workshops led by FSD Field Staff train our community partners to create economically and environmentally sustainable programs through community assessments, grant proposal development, project design and management, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation. We also connect our partners to experts and other local resources. Our asset-based approach to project design and management leverages local resources before looking to external inputs, emphasizes potentials rather than problems, and favors skill building over large financial awards. Learn More»


FSD's Grantmaking Program supports community-driven projects and capacity building initiatives for our NGO Partners in the sectors of Health, Gender Equality, Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Microenterprise, Microfinance, Youth and Education, and Applied Technology. Learn More»

International Development Training Programs:

Our Intern Abroad, Pro Corps Volunteering, and Service Learning Training Programs provide students and professionals with intensive training in grassroots sustainable development while also providing human resources and technical support to our partner organizations. Learn More»

Giving Circles:

Giving Circles expand the grant fund through promoting more engaged, longer-term philanthropy. Through a series of meetings, Giving Circle members learn about pressing issues and responsible grantmaking, and then decide collectively how they can make the greatest impact with their pooled funds. Learn More»