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Nourish members helped build a garden in Chuya Yaku, Ecuador.

Credit: Courtesy of Brandon Labarge

Penn’s chapter of Nourish International wants to do rural development work in Ecuador this summer — and it’s going to get there using Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Nourish International is a nonprofit group that helps college and high school students worldwide run business ventures on their campuses to support local community organizations. They currently run 60 chapters in the United States and Canada. Penn’s chapter is selling Krispy Kreme donuts to raise funds for the Arajuno Road Project in a remote village in Ecuador.

Last year, students from the Penn and Cornell chapters of Nourish went to Chuya Yaku, Ecuador to build sinks and bathrooms at the local school. They combined that with health-related courses on sanitation and hygiene for the children there. They also helped build a greenhouse in the surrounding area.

Program Director for Nourish International Chancey Rouse said that Nourish gives students the freedom to decide the kind of ventures they want to undertake and the partner organizations they want to work with. “We want this to be a very student-led experience and the majority of conversations take place directly between the students and the partner community,” she said.

Those conversations include deciding how much money each chapter needs to raise for its partner community and what projects each community needs the chapter to focus on. “We don’t think it’s our role to say what a community needs,” College senior and President of Penn’s chapter Brandon LaBarge said.

This summer, LaBarge plans to go back to Ecuador, and he is actively fundraising for it. In fact, Penn’s chapter is currently competing with all the other Nourish chapters in an annual fundraising contest Nourish organizes called the Giving Challenge on Crowdrise, a fundraising platform.

“[The Giving Challenge] is not only a cool opportunity for our chapters to raise money for their partner organization in a short period of time, but it’s also an opportunity for them to learn valuable fundraising skills for the rest of their lives,” Rouse said. Although the challenge formally ends on Feb. 25, people can continue to donate to each chapter until June.

About the skills that participation in Nourish provides, LaBarge added, “We’re very much involved about training you and giving you the tools to build off that.”

Fundraising might be the focus of the Penn chapter of Nourish, but Wharton senior Jane Suh, financial advisor of the chapter, said the chapter caters to a diverse range of Penn students. “Whatever interests you have,” she said, “we can plan our trip around that.”

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