Founder: Yachana Foundation 1991
Developer: Community-Based Solutions To Poverty And Environmental Conservation In The Amazon of Ecuador
With no classical training in building foundations Douglas is now a 28-year veteran of operating a rural education model that integrates academic study with practical experience in micro-enterprise so that students are prepared to resolve the social, economic, and environmental challenges in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Today Douglas continues to dream, build, win awards and offer mestizo and indigenous students and their families the opportunities to acquire the necessary skills to promote entrepreneurship, conservation, and sustainable development in their communities.
Douglas founded the Yachana Foundation to develop community-based solutions to poverty and environmental conservation in the Amazon of Ecuador. US born, Douglas had the inspiration for Yachana while visiting friends in Ecuador and became convinced that his future lay in moving to the Amazon and working to solve the social and environmental problems. Motivated by his own experiences during his formative years when he dealt with lack of support for undiagnosed dyslexia continues to shaped the Foundation and projects. In 2005, the first official school was founded, Yachana Technical High School, which was located along the Napo River Ecuador. The school integrated academic and hands-on learning, and is designed to incorporate students’ and community input into the model. In 2014 the new Yachana Training Center opened near the original school and serves as the remaining educational facility for the Foundation.
Today the Foundation has staff and volunteers around the world working to improve lives through initiatives built by Douglas. In addition to the Yachana schools Douglas has built local community schools, clinics, pharmacies, agricultural organizations, micro-finance projects and environmental sustainability programs. In parallel the Yachana Lodge has exposed over 20,000 visitors through the years a window into the lives of the Amazon population, and bringing direct benefits to the communities.
Douglas was elected as Ashoka Fellow in 2008. Ashoka is an organization that identifies and recognizes leading social entrepreneurs who are changing patterns and transforming systems.
Douglas’s work and ambitions were instrumental in the Yachana Lodge wining the following award:
- Smart Voyager, 2004
- Conde Nast Traveler, 2006
- Tourism of Tomorrow, SKAL 2007
- EcoTourism Awards,
- Alcan Prize for Sustainability