Educated and Empowered 

The Chaco Fund

The Chaco Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created by a collection of returned Peace Corps Bolivia volunteers dedicated to creating positive change in the Bolivian Chaco. We seek to contribute to the communities that we grew to know and love over two years of service. Our approach does not detract from current projects, does not draw from already-limited resources, but simply provides a much-needed asset to local communities.

We Provide Scholarships for Young Bolivian Women

Our Vision:

Our organization seeks to unlock the potential of young Bolivian women by empowering leaders, promoting self-determination, and creating advocates for rural communities, to create a Chaco where diverse communities can enjoy the richness of land and water in perpetuity.  

Our mission is to contribute to the well-being of Bolivian Chaco communities by supporting women through education and professional development.

Recent Chaco Fund Scholars

Maribel

Maribel

Community Leader Scholar

Maribel is currently in her second year studying hydrology at the Universidad Autónoma Juan Misael Saracho in Caraparí.

“The scholarship has been a great help – it’s aided me in paying for books and study materials that I need, and with room and board. I decided to study because I wanted to provide an example for my little sister, that she can make something of her life.”

~Maribel

Lorena

Lorena

Community Leader Scholar

Lorena is currently in her first year studying orthodontics at the Universidad Autónoma Juan Misael Saracho in Tarija. 

The Chaco is an ecocultural region that contains significant portions of Paraguay and Argentina, and spans three of Bolivia’s nine provinces (departamentos) – Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, and Tarija. The name “Chaco” derives from a Quechua word meaning “hunting grounds”, and the region’s dry forests and shrublands remain home to an impressive array of wildlife, including jaguar, peccary, and guanaco. The Chaco is homeland to several indigenous groups, including the Chiquitanos, Ayoreos and especially the Guaraní, Bolivia’s most numerous indigenous group outside of the Altiplano. The War of the Chaco, which resulted in Bolivia ceding a large portion of its land to Paraguay in 1935, was the deadliest military conflict in South America during the 20th century.

The Chaco is one of Bolivia’s final frontiers, lacking all-weather roads and infrastructure in many areas. The region is traversed by only a few year-round rivers, most notably the Pilcomayo and Parapetí, and is known for its extreme climate, with below freezing temperatures in winter and 120 degree heat in summer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Leaders Scholarship

Educating young women confers diverse benefits to society, including cultural and climate resilience, improvements in health, and poverty reduction. 92% of Bolivian women report that they wish they could have studied more. We believe educating young women in the Bolivian Chaco empowers whole communities. In addition to supporting Community Leaders Scholars with tuition, room and board, we also provide:

– A laptop computer;

– Leadership training;

– Mentorship; and 

– Professional development (practicum, networking, resumé building)

Our Community Scholars are pursuing their dreams and helping to make the Chaco a stronger, more united, and more resilient region. Over the long term, we hope that the Fund’s support of women scholars will aid the region, the country, and the world.

The Community Leaders Scholarship supports women scholars from the Santa Rosa de Agua Blanca school as they go on to their higher education. One top female student is selected each year based on academic achievement and financial need. Scholars selects a university and program of their choice, and we support them for the duration of their studies.

Articles

Extractivism in Bolivia

While extractive industries like natural gas can spur investment in infrastructure and create jobs, Bolivia’s history provides a stark warning on the fleeting benefits of economic growth based on export commodities.

Why the Chaco Fund

“Why are we  doing this?” As members of the Chaco Fund’s Board of Directors rolled down the main highway in the Chaco on one rainy and humid day this past November, this question led to a pause in conversation.  For a moment we each sat quietly, watching the...

Life in the Chaco

The Chaco of South America. It owes its name to the Quechua word meaning “hunting grounds”, a testament to the profusion of wildlife including jaguar, peccary, and guanaco, that call the region home. The Chaco is marked by dry forests and scrublands…

Meet the Board

Jacqueline Brysacz

Jacqueline Brysacz

Co-Chair

Jacqueline Brysacz is a nurse practitioner and public health specialist currently based out of Pennsylvania. She served as an agriculture volunteer in the Chaco with the US Peace Corps from 2007-08, focusing on community beekeeping initiatives. Her experience in the Chaco led her to a career focused on reducing barriers to health and well-being for low resource populations. She currently works as a family nurse practitioner in a community health center, serving all comers regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. She loves her family, triathalons, and hikes with her dog Frankie.

Mateo Pomilia

Mateo Pomilia

Founder & Treasurer

Mateo is the Chaco Fund’s treasurer. He served in Peace Corps Bolivia’s agriculture and forestry extension from 2007-8. His experience living and working in Iñiguazu, one of the remotest villages in the Bolivian Chaco, has underpinned his life’s trajectory since the Peace Corps. Mateo now works as a conservation biologist, leading research and education projects in wild areas of the United States, Africa, and Latin America. Mateo is an avid outdoorsman, linguist, and singer-songwriter. He currently resides in Chicago.

Michael Turner

Michael Turner

Co-Chair

Michael has over 10 years of experience working on a broad range of renewable energy and sustainability initiatives, domestically and abroad.  His professional work has focused on conducting economic impact assessments, policy analysis, and strategic program deployment on a state and national level.  He holds an MA in Energy Policy from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Colorado College Michael served as an Environmental Education Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia where he conducted GPS deforestation assessments in rural Bolivian and created an environmental commission CLIMA (La Comisión Local Interinstitucional Del Medio Ambiente) to research and address environmental challenges in his community. His service in Bolivia was formative, teaching him the value of partnerships in building successful environmental campaigns and the global effort required to protect our planet. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado. 

Have a Question? Get in Touch Below or Email Us at info@chacofund.org

The Chaco Fund

414 Chatham Circle, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089, U.S.A.