Social Organizing Fri, 18 Jan 2019 03:08:34 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (CIS - Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad) Solidarity Crafts



Click here to Download the 2018 HOLIDAY CATALOG to share with your friends!


The CIS store works under the following fair trade principles:

  • -Fair payment for work done.
  • -Payment is made upfront, nothing in the store is left on consignment.
  • -At least 50% female participation, though CIS groups tend to be closer to 90% female participation.
  • -Raw material whenever possible is from El Salvador
  • -Promote Salvadoran culture
  • -No forced child labor
  • -Skills training is provided to help artisans with their businesses and create new products.​

Watch a Video about one of our Indigo Workshops, Vivaz who participated in classes at the private University, Jose Matias Delgado.

They were able to participate in these classes thanks to our women's business program, Sew.  


To Place An Order:

Check out our catalog, and send any order or questions to

Feel free to place orders just in an e-mail or download an order form here.

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]]> (Super User) Social Organizing Thu, 01 Feb 2018 04:34:00 +0000
Youth Formation and Scholarship Program

The general objective of the Youth Formation and Scholarship Program is:

To ensure that economically disadvantaged youth from organized communities have access to a formal education (High School and University) and reach a level of social awareness in order to contribute to the development and transformation of their communities and El Salvador.

History & Context:

*In 1996, CIS began a program to support grassroots organizing.   The communities the CIS worked with told us that they had a strong commitment to social justice and human rights, but they could not put food on the table.   The CIS reflected with the communities and our international solidarity partners and proposed the ideas of the Youth Formation and Scholarship Program, as well as the Women’s Small Businesses Program. These programs were to be tools for empowering local communities to be protagonists in their own development.

*The first CIS supported scholarship program began in Cinquera, Cabañas in 1997. The program paid the transportation costs for youth to go to junior high and high school in neighboring municipalities.  Solidarity partners and the CIS were moved by the story of Antonio Alvarenga, a young man from Cinquera. As a young man he had had no other option but to go off to war, despite suffering from physical ailments.   When the war ended, Antonio wanted to realize his dream of studying to become a doctor. However, he was told there was no money and he had to go to the fields and perform heavy physical labor. As a result, Antonio took his own life.  Subsequently, a scholarship fund was set up in his name so that no other youth would be prevented from studying due to a lack of funds. In Cinquera, no one went to high school before or during the war. A high school did not even exist in Cinquera until 2012. As of 2011, 23 students have graduated from University.

In 2001, after two devastating earthquakes, the CIS received donations for emergency aid, organizing, and development.  The CIS was looking to invest small donations in projects that would have a long-term impact, instead of simply giving hand-outs to resolve immediate needs. When the CIS visited the municipality of Estanzuelas, Usulután to discuss ideas for investing a small donation, the mayor told the CIS he did not want rice and beans. He insisted that such a donation would only meet peoples’ needs for a few days. He asked if the donation could be invested in education so that the communities could begin to solve their own problems. Thus began the second program.

*With a great deal of support from Father Jerry Waris, the CIS has been able to develop 12 international solidarity partnerships that support the Program. International solidarity partners are organizations, institutions, and foundations that are matched to a sister community. They work hand-in-hand to provide educational opportunities and contribute to local development. The CIS works with at least five additional communities who have an organizational base, economic need, and a commitment to youth formation. However, they are in need of long-term partners in order to transform their communities. *Link how to get involved*


Scholarship  programs 2016

Thank you solidarity partners!!!


High school

Cinquera, ARDM




Comunidad Ellacuría, Chalatenango

Notre Dame Prep School, MD








Assumption Church, Granger, IA



San Rafael Cedros

Our Lady of Presentation, KC, MO




Corpus Christi University Parish, Toledo, OH

Resurrection Church, Solon, OH



San Pedro Perulapán

Foundation for Cultural Exchange, CO



San Pablo Tacachico – ADEMGUAPE

Pasadena Committee, CA



Romero Community, Tonacatepeque




Isla El Espíritu Santo, Puerto El Triunfo

Rainbow of Hope for Children, Canada



San Francisco de Asís Parish, Mejicanos




San José Palo Grande, Suchitoto




Isla Tasajera, San Luis la Herradura

First Congregational United Church of Christ, Eugene,  OR



Artisans– Jaragua, Las Tinecas

REVY Fair Trade, OH



Tehuiste, San Pedro Nonualco

Caminos de Accion, WY



Llano Largo, Jutiapa

CIS scholarship fund



San Isidro

CIS Scholarship Fund



At Large- San Juan Opico, LL; El Congo, SA

PeaceHealth, and CIS scholarship fund



ASPIDH Association

CIS Scholarship Fund







*Note – where the CIS scholarship Fund is listed as the Partner, there is no ongoing partnership and we would like to find organizations, churches, foundations, academic institutions, to create ongoing support and sister relationship. 

*Note – where the CIS scholarship Fund is listed as the Partner, there is no ongoing partnership and we would like to find organizations, churches, foundations, academic institutions, to create ongoing support and sister relationship. 

How the Formation and Scholarship Program Works

Guacotecti---Lisandra-now-working-at-MOPThe CIS Formation and Scholarship Program supports marginalized youth in their struggle to get an education and contribute to human development.  The program takes place in various different communities and supports groups ranging in size from 5 to 65 high school and university students, all of which are managed by a local committee.  In addition, the CIS has grassroots organizers that coordinate work between the different communities, the CIS and the international solidarity partners.  The grassroots organizers also organize a yearly retreat where students from each program share their experiences and learn from each other.

The Local Salvadoran Committee

One of the unique features of our program is that in each community there is a local scholarship committee.  They meet to supervise the community service projects, work on formation activities, visit each of the student’s homes, and resolve other issues.  It is also their responsibility to choose the scholarship recipients based on the following criteria:

  1. Economic need
  2. Commitment to social change
  3. Requirement of at least 50% female participation in each program
  4. Grades (for University scholarships)
  5. Become a partner Organization

International Solidarity Partner Committee

Each community has at least one long term international solidarity partner organization, institution, church or foundation.  All international solidarity partner organizations set a scholarship goal and raise funds.  These groups are a very important part of the communications between students, donors, and the CIS.  Ideally, the committee organizes a yearly delegation for the organization’s participants to visit El Salvador and learn more about the reality and they ways in which, together with the students, they are contributing to human development.


Comasagua---Roberto---scholarship-student-By participating in the CIS Formation and Scholarship Program, students not only receive a formal education, but also develop critical thinking and leadership skills.  In addition, they have the opportunity to learn about subjects not included in normal school curriculums.  One of our objectives is to encourage youth to give back to their communities by using their education for development and social transformation within El Salvador.  An Integral part of the Program is raising the youth’s awareness of a variety of social issues.  Students participate in workshops on gender relations, conflict resolution, human rights, the environment and analysis of Salvadoran reality, among other topics.

Community Service

Each student is required to do a yearly community service project.  Through these projects, students put into practice what they are learning, develop leadership skills, contribute to local development and learn to value the knowledge in their communities.  As a part of their formation, the students in San Rafael Cedros have participated in workshops and training in sustainability, food sovereignty and the environment.  When it came time to plan their community service projects, the students decided to create a community garden.  In other communities, students chose to contribute to CIS projects like their town Clean Water Committee or a local women’s business.  Others create original projects such as teaching the history of El Salvador, offering computer classes and much more. 

How to get involved:

Make a long-term commitment with your organization (church, community, group, foundation, etc.) to support a scholarship program.  We have communities with economic need that are organized, but who are lacking in an international solidarity partner.  You could start a program supporting as few as five students.

  1. Contribute to Scholarships in an Existing Program

You could open another spot in an existing program.  Make a commitment to contribute to a scholarship for a high school or university student.  For high school it is a three year commitment of $300.00/year.  For University, it is a six year commitment of $1200.00/year.  Amounts may vary according to each local program

  1. Contribute to the Grassroots Organizing Fund

The Formation and Scholarship Program is a success due in large part to our grassroots organizers who work in the communities.  They are the essential link among the local scholarship committees, the students, the CIS, and the international solidarity partners.  By contributing to this fund, you would help us pay their organizing expenses, salaries, health care and other benefits.

  1. Contribute to the Annual Scholarship Student Forum.

Each year we host a retreat with the scholarship recipients from all over the country.  Here they share their experiences and learn from one another.  By contributing to this fund you would help us pay for the students’ and organizers’ lodging, transportation, food and materials.

Tax deductible donations can be made to:
Los Olivos CIS
PO Box 76
Westmount, IL 60559, USA

Or click here to donate with a credit card on our website:

Students’ Testimonials

“The program has meant so much to me.  I had the opportunity to be able to study a university degree.  For me this was an impossible dream until I was selected for the Scholarship Program.  Through the Program, I was able to learn, develop and form a world view with a social conscience.  I think the course of study that I chose [Social Work] was the best for me, because it is a humanitarian degree that allows me to be close to the people”.   -Eduardo, University Scholarship Graduate, Cinquera, Cabañas

“Thanks to the CIS Formation and Scholarship Program I am studying accounting at the National University.  Through my involvement in the CIS and my studies, I have been able to take advantage of many opportunities to support my community.  Some of the service projects I am involved in include: a study group for children who are behind in school, literacy classes for adult women, the Round Table on Violence Prevention in Tonacatepeque, and I am supporting the formation of a women’s cooperative in our town.  These projects have helped me, as well as other youth, to contribute to a betterment of our community.  Thanks to the Program, in addition to studying, I have obtained many new skills.  My leadership has allowed me to build trust with my neighbors and I was even elected community president”.         -Carmen, University Scholarship Student, Romero Community, Tonacatepeque

Partners’ Experiences

“The contributing group has grown, and now several of us have visited San Pablo Tacachico.  Seeing the needs and meeting with the students and their families, we have increased our financial support.  In addition, because we have learned so much from our visits to El Salvador and San Pablo Tacachico, we have been able to deepen our understanding of and educate our community about the inequality and injustice cause by neo-conservative economic policies and international agreements”.    -Pasadena/El Salvador Committee

“I have learned through the appreciation of the recipients of scholarships just how important an education is for life’s success.  Previous to my experience in El Salvador, I just took for granted the value of an education.  We know that his is truly a gift for life and we are so pleased to help provide this gift to so many deserving young women and men”.       - Father Gerald Waris



]]> (Super User) Social Organizing Thu, 01 Feb 2018 04:33:00 +0000
Salvadoran Enterprises for Women

Women’s Empowerment and Salvadoran Enterprises for Women

The CIS began to work with Salvadoran Enterprises for Women (SEW); a U.S. based non-profit organization to develop women’s businesses in rural communities in 2004. 

After the earthquakes of 2001 and the repercussions of U.S. neo-liberal economic policies, hundreds of Salvadorans were leaving daily for the United States to look for remunerated employment.  The CIS was developing programs to support especially women and youth, two sectors most marginalized economically.    CIS and SEW developed a relationship to facilitate strategies to empower women and generate income for women.  We prioritize women in rural areas because of more limited access historically for women to get an education, the absence of employment for women, and lack of access to women’s training centers available in the city.

The CIS program in conjunction with SEW works to develop:

  1.  Women’s empowerment and organization –through a series of personal development and organizational workshops developed by CIS promoters.
  2. Networking to facilitate training in different skills sets depending on the business the women would like to develop.
  3. Facilitating training in basic administration, accounting and planning. 
  4. Developing a budget and plan to start the business to present to SEW.
  5. Follow-up, support, networking and further training as the business develops.

Businesses include:

Pájaro Flor, Sewing, embroidery and indigo dying workshop in Suchitoto

Vivaz, Indigo dying workshop, San Luis Los Ranchos, Comasagua

New Rebirth Egg laying farm, Cocobano, San Rafael Cedros

Las Cedrinas, typical food cafeteria, San Rafael Cedros.

Women Artisans El Torogoz, candle making, shampoo and cornhusk flowers, San Jose Palo Grande

ADEMGUAPE, women’s cooperative and egg laying hen farm, San Pablo Tacachico

La Vaquita, Dairy Products, Llano Largo, Jutiapa

ACOPAMSLR, sewing cooperative, San Luis los Ranchos, Comasagua

La Colorada Seamstresses/Cathy’s bags, Isla Tasajera, San Luis la Herradura

New Dawn Egg laying farm, Guacotecti

Zacatales Bakery, Comasagua

Las Delicias Bakery, Llano Largo, Jutiapa

Guadalupanas store and distribution of first necessity products, San Pablo Tacachico.

]]> (Super User) Social Organizing Wed, 03 Jan 2018 04:34:00 +0000
CIS Community Network IMG 4264

The CIS community network is a space for communities leaders from CIS supported communities to get together and discuss important topics.  Every two months, the network of leaders meets in the CIS to learn about and disucss important topics affecting the country.  Topics can include things such as protection of the environment, proposed laws such as the right to food and water, time to commemorate important events and analysis of the current situation in El Salvador.  IMG 4202

Once the leaders have attended the meetings, they return to their communities and spread their new knowledge, promoting citizen participation and civic education.  The Spanish school often participates for a small portion of the day in order to promote cultural exchange and solidarity.

Below is a summary of one of the community network meetings written by a volunteer, Elisabeth Miller.  Thanks Elisabeth.  Another one is available here for download.

The CIS community network came together for one of their regular meetings for a workshop about climate change. The session began with introductions followed by a presentation on global climate change in general, to familiarize the participants in terminology and how climate change comes about. Then El Salvador became the focus, looking at environmental problems like deforestation, contamination of fresh water, stronger and more irregular weather patterns, and the rise of ocean levels.

Guest speaker and Agronomist, Ulises Campo, gave the presentation on climate change and applied these themes to developing situations in El Salvador. Here he emphasizes the central belt of active volcanoes in the country which corresponds to areas of coffee cultivation.

In addition, this month honors Archbishop Oscar Romero, as the anniversary of his assassination is on the 24th of March. So after questions and comments for the presentation, attention was turned to Romero’s example for the El Salvadorian people.

The community network will meet again in two months for an analysis of social inequality and the economy of El Salvador.


IMG 4241



]]> (Super User) Social Organizing Wed, 13 Dec 2017 04:34:00 +0000
Clean Water Program Join the CIS and Los Olivos CIS in promoting CLEAN WATER in El Salvador

  • Many people, especially children still die from amoebic dysentery and related diseases.
  • Many women and men miss work and children miss school because of water-related illnesses.
  • Many families cannot afford the medicine or treatment to cure waterborne illnesses such as amoebas, bacteria, giardia, e coli, fungus, colitis, and cancer which can be debilitating and lead to death.

What is CIS doing?

  • Raising awareness about the effects of contaminated water.
  • Delivering filters to communities and families
  • Developing educational and conscious-raising materials.
  • Popular education workshops about why filters are important, how to take care of them, how to avoid drinking or ingesting contaminated water, how we contaminate water and how to prevent it.
  • Coordinate testing the water in communities.
  • Coordinate testing family members for amoebas, bacteria and parasites.
  • Changing people's habits

cleanwater2The CIS clean water project has two different sections. One part partners with Clean Water for the World which installs large water purification systems in places such as schools and health clinics. These systems use infrared technology to clean the water and have capacity to provide clean water for many different homes.
The other part of the program distributes Sawyer water filters to families in communities who have completed the necessary preparations and workshops to receive a filter. The filter is accompanied by two buckets, one to store the filter and the water before it is filtered, and other to store clean water.

Download the most recent reports for specific projects here:

El Jute, La Libertad  (Special Thanks to Chris Chaney for raising the funds for the project, and to Maria Madre de los Pobres Parish for providing a meeting place and coordination support, and assigning Wendy who is now the local coordinator of the water committee at Madre)

La Chacra, San Salvador (Thank you to the parishioners of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Kansas City for contributing to CIS Clean Water Project and making this donation possible)


What can you do?

Raise general funds for the CIS' Clean Water Campaign. Send tax deductible donations to Los Olivos CIS, PO BOX 76, WESTMOUNT, IL 60559. You may also donate using paypal by clicking here. Donations marked "CLEAN WATER" will be directed to providing clean water to families and communities here in El Salvador.

A $75.00 donation will provide a family with access to clean water including:

  • A SAWYER water filter and two buckets to accompany the filter
  • Transportation of promoter to communities-organization, 2 workshops, home visits and evaluation.
  • CIS grassroots organizer team and CLEAN WATER promoter's stipends to carry out popular education workshops to demonstrate the importance and proper use and maintenance of the filter, how to avoid contaminating water sources, and conduct follow-up with the communities, to ensure ongoing use and overcome obstacles.
  • Coordination of laboratory tests of water (where resources permit).
  • Coordination of medical exams of one family member before and after filter use and treatment.

  • Incorporate "Clean Water" as a part of your delegation mission.
    CIS will incorporate visits to communities in need of filters, and any funds your delegation group can raise in advance will be used to purchase water filters for that community. *A water committee must be organized and the community and each family must have received two training sessions before the can actually receive the water.


]]> (Super User) Social Organizing Wed, 13 Dec 2017 04:31:00 +0000