What is a pulsera?
"Pulsera" is the Spanish word for bracelet.
What is the Pulsera Project?
The Pulsera Project is a 501 c3 non-profit organization that enriches Nicaraguan and U.S. youths through empowerment and education. We partner with U.S. student volunteers to sell colorful, hand-woven pulseras made by Central American artists. Pulsera sale proceeds provide jobs and educational opportunities for many Nicaraguans while also providing rich language and cultural education for many U.S. students. Pulsera sales are wildly popular and FUN!
Pulsera sale proceeds sustain employment for over 100 artists in addition to funding educational programs, scholarships, interest-free micro-loans, environmental programs, fair trade advocacy, and human rights. . Our projects are guided by a philosophy of empowerment. Rather than giving things to people, we empower people with the skills, opportunities, and education that allows them to provide for themselves and their communities.
Are donations to the Pulsera Project tax deductible?
Yes, we are a registered U.S. nonprofit organization. Please see the "donate" button on our homepage if you would like to make a donation to the Pulsera Project.
Does the Pulsera Project have any religious or political affiliation?
No, we have no political or religious affiliation.
"My country is the world, and my religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine.
How much do pulseras cost?
Each pulsera costs $5 and comes tagged with the photo and signature of the artist who made it. Occasionally schools will sell the pulseras for $6 or $7 and keep the extra dollar or two for a local cause or for their own organization. This has to be cleared with us ahead of time.
Who makes the pulseras?
Pulseras are made by the following groups:
Pulsera Project Cooperative: A co-op of about 30 young men and women, most of whom grew up together in shelters throughout Nicaragua.
Independent Artists: We work with about 40 independent Nicaraguan artists, mostly in the Masaya and Catarina areas of Nicaragua, who carry on the indigenous pulsera-making tradition passed down to them from previous generations. Like the co-op as well, many of these artists have become our close friends and we visit them several times a year.
Si A La Vida: About 15 youths who live at the "Si a la Vida" shelters make pulseras, but they must be 16 years old to make them for the Pulsera Project. (Fourteen years of age is a United Nations and World Fair Trade minimum age standard). Pulsera making is optional for all youths. Arts and crafts programs within the Sí a la Vida shelters teach younger children the art of pulsera making so that many become masters while still quite young.
MayaMam Weavers: MayaMam is a women’s weaving cooperative in Cajola, Guatemela. They weave ancient cosmic symbols into their designs and use a traditional looming process for the pulseras and headbands they make for the Pulsera Project.
Tukula: A small women’s cooperative in Jijna, Uganda. One of the women from the cooperative makes recycled paper bead bracelets that have proven to be super popular in the U.S.
How big is the Pulsera Project? How many pulseras have been sold?
In 2009 we started selling pulseras at one Pennsylvania school and sold them out of our backpacks to friends & family. Since then, U.S. student volunteers in more than 900 schools have sold roughly 200,000 pulseras and have raised more than $1,000,000 dollars for the project’s mission.
Despite these numbers, the Pulsera Project has remained small at its core, with only three full-time employees in the U.S. and one managing director in Nicaragua. See the team page for more info on our crew!
What do you do with the pulsera sale proceeds?
In addition to sustaining full-time employment for over 100 artists, we invest funds from pulsera sales in a number of projects and organizations, including:
*Scholarships for any pulsera artists who want to pursue a course of study
*Funding for secondary education programs, especially through "La Esperanza Granada"
*Interest-free microloans for pulsera artists through "People Helping People Globally"
*Healthcare for all pulsera artists
*Support for the "Si A La Vida" youth shelters
*Support for "La Isla Foundation" a group adovcating for workers' rights in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua
*Funding to the "Solar Women of Totogalpa," a women's sustainable energy cooperative
Like all organizations, we also have to buy paper, ink, postage and other necessities. The Pulsera Project has three full-time paid employees in the U.S--Chris Howell, Colin Crane, and Jillian Bagby. Their duties include coodinating hundreds of pulsera school sales every year, managing pulsera inventory, making educational content and videos, working on social media outreach and web design, speaking to student groups, and handling all other day-to-day operations of the Pulsera Project--including counting tens of thousands of pulseras every semester! They are also responsible for managing the project's work in Nicaragua and assuring that project funding is effectively spent.
How can I get involved?
The primary way that you can get involved with the Pulsera Project is by leading a pulsera sale at your school! Pulsera school sales raise 99% of the money that we use to fund all of our programs in Nicaragua, and are by far the most effective way of being a part of the Pulsera Project.
Getting involved is super easy, super fun, and completely free! Check out our get involved page for more info, and then take some time to read through our comprehensive "Pulsera Sale Guide" for a more in-depth look at what it's like to lead a pulsera sale.
If you have questions at any time, please feel free to get in touch!
Are there opportunities to travel to Nicaragua with the Pulsera Project? Am I eligible?
Usually the Pulsera Project takes one trip per year to Nicaragua with students who have previously been involved with the project. If you are 18 years old and have participated in a pulsera sale, you would be eligible to apply for one of these trips. Please check out the trip details page for more info, and sign up for our pulsera trip email list if you would like to be notified when we are putting the details together for our next adventure. The link for that can be found at:
Unfortunately at this time we do not have the resources or capability of planning or coordinating trips for an entire class of students.
How can I find independent information about the Pulsera Project?
Guidestar is one of the world’s leading sources of non-profit and charity information. Here is a link to our Guidestar page:
You can also review IRS Publication 78 to confirm that we are a registered non-profit organization. Here’s an IRS link. Our W-9 form and nonprofit registration letter can be downloaded here:
Since tax returns often reflect information that is up to a year old, below are links to our year-end project updates. These are reports on our most current project activities, income, and expenses for 2011 and 2012.
2014 Year-End Update: Coming Soon