Our History

Esperanza International History

32 years of cultivating global citizens and counting...


Robert Morris, Deacon Al Graff, and Fr. John Howard envision the organization out of the St. James Circle service group.


Esperanza International, Inc. (EI) is incorporated as a U.S. 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.


Students from University of San Diego, the first volunteer group, build 10’ x 20’ wooden houses in Tijuana.


Esperanza finds apartments for migrants camping in a San Diego canyon. Esperanza is a partner in the Jimmy Carter house building event in Tijuana.


Fundación Esperanza de México, (FEM) a Tijuana based organization with a Mexican board of directors, is founded to direct the Tijuana area house-building work of Esperanza International.


Esperanza founds the Esperanza Housing and Community Development Corp. of San Diego for low-income housing operations in the San Diego area.


A cost-effective, safe and volunteer friendly house-building system (Hainer block) is engineered for Tijuana building projects.


Philippe Gagne becomes Esperanza International’s first Executive Director. Apolonio Rodriguez and Sergio Rodriguez Sandoval are hired to coordinate work in the communities.


Victor Esparza becomes the first Esperanza Volunteer Group Coordinator responsible for United States volunteer groups.


Self-help and community development principles are introduced to the work of Esperanza.


First community groups (FAVs) are organized in Tijuana colonias. Esperanza Housing and Community Development Corp. of San Diego merges to become Community Housing of North County.


The Esperanza Health Clinic opens its doors to the residents of colonias near the Tijuana city dump.


Land is purchased for the construction of Pueblo Esperanza.


Melissa Drollman is hired as the second Esperanza Volunteer Group Coordinator. The first long-term volunteer joins the Esperanza staff from September to December 1998.


“Pueblo Esperanza” opens in La Gloria, providing improved lodging for volunteer groups from the U.S. and a facility for the support of local Esperanza communities.


Eduardo Zavala Reyes is hired as the third Esperanza Volunteer Group Coordinator.


Josefina Pataky becomes the first Executive Director of Fundación Esperanza de México.


Fundación Esperanza de México establishes an office at the Pueblo Esperanza compound. Construction on a second volunteer housing wing to double the capacity begins at Pueblo Esperanza.


Reorganization by the Esperanza International Board eliminates the Esperanza International Executive Director position.


The Esperanza International Board contracts with Los Niños for Esperanza volunteer group registration service.


A second volunteer housing wing at Pueblo Esperanza is completed. Fundación Esperanza de México achieves nonprofit status in México.


Development continues in the Tijuana communities and Esperanza community organizations (FAVs). Support from the Mexican Government and major Mexican businesses grows.


A caretaker house is built at Pueblo Esperanza. Construction begins on a gray water recycling system.


Two long-term volunteers are needed to support growth in volunteer groups.


Construction for a long-term volunteer apartment is completed atop the caretaker’s house. The community center at Pueblo Esperanza is completed and Pueblo Esperanza begins a composting program


Fundación Esperanza de México introduces home enterprise chip bag and inner tube purse construction projects as a means to increase family income.


A joint project of Fundación Esperanza de México, Tijuana public school teachers, Los Niños and Ecoparque brings 1,800 students together for the first annual ecology education event.


The first Spanish immersion program is offered at Pueblo Esperanza.


FEM develops a “native plants” garden at Pueblo Esperanza through a grant from the San Diego Natural History Museum for the purpose of continuing their work in ecology education.


The first Esperanza Tortilla Cooperative in Valle Verde begins. The first Seattle University accredited study abroad academic program is offered through Professor Paul Milan.


San Diego State University offers an academic study program.


An expansion program in Rio Grande, Oaxaca opens and the first volunteer group visits Oaxaca. The first home is completed in the new Esperanza housing development in Lomas Del Valle.


Completion of a new housing unit at the Posada.


New housing prototype is used for a special build in the Ensenada area.


Welcomed The Cardoner Project from Australia and students from University of Stuttgart, Germany. Esperanza International established office in Little Italy, San Diego.


Fundación Esperanza de México begins work in 2 new communities, “Los Castores” and “Primo Tapia”. These two new Community Savings Groups begin to save for new homes in 2017.


Fundación Esperanza de México breaks ground on 'Casa Mil', the 1,000th Esperanza home for the Cervantes Family in the colonia of La Morita.