Newsletter archive for 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.

September 2018 Newsletter

posted Sep 30, 2018, 8:03 AM by Andrew Mueller

Development with Dignity 
September 2018

Barrio Nuestro: Participatory Census 

We have moved on to a new phase of our community-based development initiative, Barrio Nuestro ("Our Neighborhood"). Since July 15th, Building Dignity and community leaders of La Encantada have been knocking on the doors of each home in the La Encantada Grupo 2 for a participatory census. The census consists of a series of demographic questions, as well as questions about community members' perspectives of La Encantada and their vision for the park. Through the census, we have been informing neighbors of the park improvement project, listening to their suggestions and opinions, and engaging community leaders to work with us to mobilize the community of La Encantada around this project. 

Community parents chat with psychologist Ernesto Reaño

On July 20th Building Dignity hosted psychologist Ernesto Reaño, director of EITA (Team for Asperger and Autism Intervention and Treatment), with whom we have signed an Agreement of Cooperation. This meeting had a record attendance due to great interest in topics such as how we understand and apply discipline, forms of punishment that do and do not work, video games, and the “thermometer of emotions,” among other related themes. Parents engaged in a dynamic conversation with Ernesto, and they have asked that we hold this talk again.


Every week children have gotten to enjoy various workshops at Building Dignity. On Monday, the more advanced musicians get to practice guitar with our music professor, Quique Valdez. Students in our Thursday introductory class are enjoying learning how to play the zampoña (an Andean wind instrument) and the cajón (an Afro-Peruvian percussive box). 

Plastic Arts

On Wednesdays, students work with Hugo Espinoza, our plastic arts professor, on a range of projects. Recently, students made marionettes with moving parts, and now they are working with ceramics. 

Introducing Jonah!

Jonah Watt joined Building Dignity at the beginning of July and will be working with us for a year as our Princeton in Latin America Fellow. Jonah graduated from Bowdoin College this past May with a degree in Latin American studies and a minor in earth and oceanographic science. At Bowdoin, Jonah conducted an honors thesis on the history of the Chilean student movement with a focus on the past decades of mobilization following a semester abroad in Valparaíso, Chile. While in Chile, he studied at the Universidad de Playa Ancha and conducted an internship with an organization dedicated to science and technology education and outreach. At Bowdoin, Jonah interned with the Maine Mobile Health Program, which provides mobile medical care to Maine's migrant and seasonal farmworkers, many of whom are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Jonah also led his campus’s climate action group for four years, where he combined his passion for community organizing with his commitment to climate justice. He is thrilled to spend the next year in La Encantada working with Building Dignity, and he looks forward to learning about social justice and community organizing in Peru!

NEW: Donate to us now via Venmo! Find the app on your smartphone and search for @building-dignity to send a donation.

Donations made in September go towards a $10,000 matching challenge grant in support of the 8th annual Craig house party on September 29th!

Donations can also still be made by visiting

June 2018 Newsletter

posted Sep 30, 2018, 8:01 AM by Andrew Mueller

Development with Dignity
June 2018

People's Congregational Church Provides Support for Barrio Nuestro project!

With an $1,800 "Blessing Fund" grant from People's Congregational Church in Bayport, MN, Building Dignity's new community-based development initiative called Barrio Nuestro ("Our Neighborhood") continues with a boost of additional resources. The goal of Barrio Nuestro is to use community participation as a tool for identifying and addressing neighborhood improvement opportunities, namely, to revitalize the central park of La Encantada.
To facilitate the first stage of the diagnostic and planning process (between March and May), Building Dignity staff partnered with Maria Eugenia Maguiña, 
a social psychologist who oversaw a similar neighborhood revitalization project between 2012-2014 led by Susana Villarán, our Executive Director, while she was mayor of Lima.
Neighborhood leaders gather for one of the preliminary meetings in March led by Maria Eugenia Maguiña to review the map of La Encantada as a starting point for the visioning and design process.

Voices of Youth: Creative Visioning

Voices of Youth participants are engaged in the community-wide needs assessment as a part of the Barrio Nuestro project. Young people are using the creative outlet of photography to document and identify opportunities for improving the neighborhood. These photographs along with neighborhood mapping by adult leaders are informing the visioning and design phase of the project.
With the help of the youth-led photography activity, neighborhood leaders identified development opportunity areas on a lot-by-lot map of La Encantada. The main park and soccer pitch photographed above is labeled with a letter "V". 

La Encantada Family Festival 

On May 20th, Building Dignity hosted a family festival in La Encantada's central park to promote the reclaiming of public space and highlight what is possible when the community gathers around a common cause. In a community where recreation is often limited by time, resources, and a lack of accessible and maintained public spaces, the success of this event was not only apparent in the turnout but in the opportunity to engage and educate families about the Barrio Nuestro process.

Final Notes

We are excited to announce the addition of new Advisory Board members joining the Building Dignity team! As an Advisory Board member, the individuals below have generously volunteered their time and talents to support the Building Dignity mission:

Alexis Alvarez Franco
Annie Virnig
David Smeath

Emily Franks
Michale Ángel Vásquez
Nicole Epps

Get to know the Advisory Board by visiting the Building Dignity website:

March 2018 Newsletter

posted Sep 30, 2018, 7:54 AM by Andrew Mueller

Development with Dignity
March 2018
A huge thank you to everyone who donated in 2017! It is through your support that we are able to carry out this important work. In our recent December campaign, generous donors and supporters like you helped us raise over $22,500! Stay tuned in the coming months for the full 2017 annual report to learn more about all that was accomplished last year. 

Summer in Lima

Welcoming New Leadership and Strengthening Community Initiatives

While we are bundling up and digging ourselves out of the snow in the North, Villa El Salvador is enjoying a vibrant, productive Summer. We just finished the second cycle of the year, and are excited to share some of the changes and developments taking place under the leadership of the Center for Development with Dignity's new Executive Director and former mayor of Lima, Susana Villarán. Enjoy this brief look at what we have been up to for the past few months!

Model Neighborhood

Developed in coordination with local leaders, our new "Model Neighborhood" initiative aims to to make the La Encantada neighborhood a successful model of urban development for other communities to emulate. A crucial part of this project includes reclaiming public spaces for cultural enrichment activities and improving environmental infrastructure. This summer 53 trees were adopted by children as part of this project's commitment to building a green, healthy, and safe community.

Voices of Youth

Our Voices of Youth Program continues strong in the two communities of Oasis and La Encantada.  One of the key themes addressed this summer was the high rate of gender violence in Peru. During November and December, participants designed, photographed and uploaded posters to their Facebook pages to protest this violence as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Improving Academic Programming and Family Engagement 

Our commitment to providing quality academic programming  is grounded in our comprehensive approach to education. This year, our after-school tutoring program highlighted the success of this approach, as students enrolled showed measurable academic improvement in all subjects.  As we move into 2018, we are furthering this commitment by offering an even more personalized tutoring program, which will increase the availability of psychological counseling services for each child and also provide a space for increased  family involvement. 
Recent graduates of our Academic Enrichment program pose with their certificates alongside Ana María, the Program Coordinator. 

Investing in Infrastructure

As our organization continues to grow and develop, so do our infrastructure needs. This Spring, we invested in major infrastructure improvements. We built new offices, added a new community space for legal and psychological consults, and renovated the building's existing facilities, including the kitchen, bathroom and entryway. The Center also received a fresh coat of paint and banner which really brightens up the block. 
Community members gather in front of the newly repainted community center to receive their trees as a part of the adopt-a-tree community greening initiative. 
Thank you to Advisory Board founding members, Bryan and Amy, for their outstanding service!

After over six years of outstanding service, two founding members of Building Dignity’s advisory board are rotating off the board to make space for new members.  

Amy Hill Cosimini began her involvement in 2009 when she performed in our inaugural fundraising concert at Macalester College, to pay for the construction of the community center in Peru.  In 2013, Amy was instrumental in bringing a Global Studies Student Association (GSSA) delegation of University of Minnesota students to Lima to volunteer.  Both in Lima and in Minnesota, Amy has worked hard to ensure Building Dignity’s success and long-term viability.   


Bryan Frantz has supported social justice initiatives in Peru since 2001, and joined our inaugural board in 2011.  Bryan provided legal guidance, worked on taxes and payroll tasks, co-hosted many fundraisers, and supported our partnership with Wayzata Community Church.  He is unfailingly generous with his time and we have always appreciated Bryan’s attitude of “I’ll do whatever is needed.”  In 2014, he even ran a marathon to raise much-needed funds!!


Amy and Bryan look forward to staying involved and continuing to share their talents with Building Dignity.  We are deeply grateful for their vital contributions to our work in Peru.

¡Muchas gracias!     

December 2017 Newsletter

posted Sep 30, 2018, 7:48 AM by Andrew Mueller   [ updated Sep 30, 2018, 8:07 AM ]

You can read our December 2017 Newsletter in the mailing list archive.

August 2017: Winter Newsletter

posted Oct 1, 2017, 2:01 PM by Henrik Mitsch   [ updated Sep 30, 2018, 8:04 AM by Andrew Mueller ]

You can read our August newsletter in the mailing list archive.

July 2017: 2016 Annual Report

posted Oct 1, 2017, 1:48 PM by Henrik Mitsch

Please read our July newsletter in the mailing list archive.

Additionally, please find the report in our Annual Report section.

July 2016: Building Dignity's 2015 Annual Report

posted Oct 1, 2017, 1:47 PM by Henrik Mitsch

Please read our July newsletter in the mailing list archive.

Additionally, please find the report in our Annual Report section.

June 2016: Building Dignity isn't hibernating this summer

posted Oct 1, 2017, 1:45 PM by Henrik Mitsch

Please read our June newsletter in the mailing list archive.

February 2016: 150 youth, 9 workshops, and 1 unforgettable summer

posted Mar 28, 2016, 4:07 PM by Henrik Mitsch   [ updated Oct 1, 2017, 1:40 PM ]

Please read our February newsletter in the mailing list archive.

December 2015: Transitioning and Growing

posted Mar 28, 2016, 4:04 PM by Henrik Mitsch   [ updated Oct 1, 2017, 1:41 PM ]

Please read our December newsletter in the mailing list archive.

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