Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR), in collaboration with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), held the first Partners for Good Awards, an activity in which both organizations recognized the social contribution and the role that various companies have played in the recovery of Puerto Rico, after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as the earthquakes that affected the southern region of the island.
During the virtual activity, held through the Hopin platform, the seven companies, comprised of Caribbean Produce Exchange, GFR Media, Liberty Cablevision, Sunrun, Walmart, Evertec, Inc. and Google.org, were recognized for their performance in various areas of the island’s recovery. “Puerto Rico, like the rest of the world, faces today the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest challenges in modern history. The contribution of the private sector, as well as nonprofit organizations, has been key in the country’s recovery process. It has been companies like the ones recognized today, that not only said present in 2017 after Maria’s passing, but continue day by day to support the reconstruction of a stronger and more resilient Puerto Rico,” said Annie Mayol, president and COO of FPR.
The awards were divided into three categories: health, connection, and growth. In the health category, the work of Caribbean Produce Exchange was recognized for its commitment to bringing quality local farmers’ products to restaurants and supermarkets throughout Puerto Rico. As part of their efforts, they implemented the “Farmers to Families Food Box” Program, a $100M U.S. Department of Agriculture program to distribute food boxes to families affected by Hurricane Maria. Recently, the food distribution company joined forces with local farmers to export a container full of fresh fruit, plantains and other local produce to the Puerto Rican and Hispanic communities in the South Bronx affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the connection category, Liberty Cablevision and GFR Media were awarded for their contribution to keeping Puerto Ricans connected. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Liberty Cablevision developed the Wi-Fi Tour, a tour of the most affected municipalities to provide residents with a satellite Internet connection. In addition, the company forged alliances with public and private entities to provide essential services. Recently, through the “Give a Child a New Virtual School” initiative, 2,000 public high school students in the southwest region of the island were supported to finish the school semester after the January 2020 earthquakes.
GFR Media was recognized for its commitment to developing, sharing and producing relevant content and news, keeping Puerto Ricans connected and informed in difficult circumstances. In addition, the hurricane allowed them to rethink and reuse some of their assets to respond to the crisis. For example, their call centers became the call centers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Finally, four companies were awarded in the growth and development category for their continued efforts toward rebuilding the Island: Sunrun, Walmart, Evertec and Google.org. Sunrun, for its proactivity in investing in the solar market in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, supporting Law 17, which achieved greater openness for a new vision of the future of solar and renewable energy in Puerto Rico. The company donated storage and solar energy facilities to seven fire stations so they could keep their critical services running.
Walmart was recognized for helping its employees and communities in the process of rebuilding in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, as well as in long-term recovery efforts. Following Maria’s passing, the company took a leadership role in communicating with FEMA, non-profits and other sectors while using its logistics and supply chain resources to bring critical supplies and products to the island, including these power generators.
Evertec and Google.org were also recognized for their support in reviving the local business sector after Hurricane Maria. Evertec convened support organizations such as FPR and Fundación Popular, ensured the continuity of operations of its local business clients with enabling technologies, provided tools, education and resources to support revitalization, and fostered growth within Puerto Rico’s small business ecosystem. For its part, Google.org donated more than $1.5M to aid organizations that provide shelter, clean water, hygiene items and connectivity throughout the region; and launched a fundraising and matching campaign, which raised $2M to support small tourism businesses in Puerto Rico, promoting tourism and supporting the agricultural and fishing industries.
The event was co-organized by CGI Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery, an initiative created after the 2017 hurricane season to develop new plans that advance recovery and promote long-term resilience.