Our History

Esperanza International History

32 years of cultivating global citizens and counting...

1984

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

1985

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

1986

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

1989

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

1990

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.

1991

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

1992

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

1992

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

1992

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

1992

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

1993

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.

1996

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

1996

Land is purchased for the construction of Pueblo Esperanza.

1998

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.

1999

“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.

1999

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

2000

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

2001

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.

2002

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

2002

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

2002

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

2003

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

2003

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

2004

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

2005

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

2005

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

2005

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.

2006

The first Spanish immersion program is offered at Pueblo Esperanza.

2007

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.

2008

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

2009

San Diego State University offers an academic study program.

2010

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.

2010

Completion of a new housing unit at the Posada.

2013

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

2015

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

2016

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.

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.