True Roots 2017 Highlights

True Roots 2017 Highlights

This year has not been short on challenges nor on progress. For True Roots, it’s been a year of outreach, team-building, and travel. What makes memorable moments for an organization like ours? What are we looking forward to in next year’s new chapter? Read on to find out more.

true roots summer lewis and josé luis
True Roots co-founders Summer and José Luis, photographed in Oaxaca by Nikhol Esteras Photography.


True Roots co-founder Summer Lewis gave two presentations in the US in 2017: at Kansas State University on “Advocating for Gender Equity, Peace, and Sustainable Development” (where she also recieved an outstanding alumni award!); and on Entrepreneurship and Microfinance” at the Rotary Presidential Peace conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Co-founder José Luis continued to explore the width and breadth of Oaxaca state — to get an idea of scope, global readers, imagine an area just larger than US state Indiana, or Hungary in Europe, with landscapes of vast mountain ranges, valleys, pacific coastline, and of course, coffee plantations. True Roots also worked in Chiapas and Veracruz during the year, completing a gender analysis of current national policies in the Mexican coffee sector, and a diagnostic of gender among coffee producer organizations and smallholder producers in those states. Mexico City is always on our map, and José Luis made it up to the unique, sprawling city in November to conduct 20 hours of workshops on “Sustainability of Rural Grassroots Organizations” for Fundación Merced.

We’re looking forward to 2018 bringing us even more opportunities to take part in important conversations surrounding development, and in turn, for this participation to contribute to our learning and practice. To find out more about speaking engagements with True Roots, contact, and for workshops.


We were delighted to open up not one, but two spots on the True Roots support team for the first time this year, and welcome interns to be part of an exciting phase for the consulting group. As the organization reflects, prepares and plans for growth next year (stay tuned!) Ferg Hamilton (UK/Mexico City) and Bailey Reed (Kansas/Shanghai) made excellent contributions to our communication endeavors.

We’re very thankful for the commitment of all of our supporters, advisors, friends and communities who have contributed to True Roots’ achievements so far and to our plans for the future! To see more from our organization, and from others whose work we admire, like our page on Facebook.


This year we launched an impact assessment for Libros Para Pueblos, a non-profit in Oaxaca that sought out True Roots’ monitoring and evaluation services. The organization fosters the creation of libraries in communities all over Oaxaca state (72 so far) and its work comprises multiple stakeholder groups – library users of all ages, librarians, parents, community leaders, volunteers, donors – so designing and implementing ways to collect information from them, about their experiences with the organization and its services, is a uniquely-crafted analytical process. We’ve just completed part of the first baseline study ever for the organization and will soon be able to provide them with the data necessary to start applying for larger grants, reflecting on the feedback’s findings and increasing their impact. You can read about past monitoring & evaluation projects by True Roots on the Our Work section of our website.

Libros Para Pueblos
Young readers at a library supported by Libros Para Pueblos


We’re looking forward to reviews, results and re-launches next year, which we’re excited to share with our organization’s followers soon. As for our work connecting individuals with pioneering development projects, in February 2018 True Roots will run a learning tour as part of the multidisciplinary encounter ¡Trueque!, which combines training, site visits, presentations, celebrations and cultural exchange surrounding something very close to our organization’s heart and roots — Oaxacan coffee. As every new year brings new innovations to meet emerging and persistent challenges in international development, we look forward to seeing what these novelties in monitoring and evaluation, training and education, community-strengthening and strategic planning mean for development practice.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!