Co-founder with husband Herb Allen of Fundacion Colibri, Mónica de la Torre grew up in Puerto Rico and has resided in New York City for nearly 30 years. She is president of the privately funded nonprofit established after Hurricane Maria in 2017 to support transformational change and long-term recovery in Puerto Rico.
Monica previously practiced as a public interest attorney in the areas of family, immigration, and public benefits law, most recently as Director of Legal Services Center at The Door, a New York City-based organization that provides services to at-risk adolescents. Prior to joining The Door, she was Director of the Public Interest Law Center at New York University School of Law and a Staff Attorney at Queens Legal Services.
Monica continues to serve on the board of The Door as well as the Board of Trustees of Broome Street Academy, a New York City charter school that targets the needs of young people who are homeless or receiving foster care services by integrating academic and youth development services. She’s also a member of the governing board of Espacios Abiertos an organization that promotes an open and transparent more democratic society in Puerto Rico.
TechnoServe is a nonprofit organization with over 50 years of experience helping small farmers and entrepreneurs improve their business, incomes, and communities. TechnoServe is dedicated to helping people lift themselves out of poverty by harnessing the power of the private sector. A leading nonprofit organization operating in almost 30 countries, TechnoServe works with hard-working women and men in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. By linking people to information, capital, and markets, TechnoServe has helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.
Fundación Colibrí has invested in TechnoServe’s Revivamos Nuestro Café program since 2019 to support their work with Puerto Rico’s coffee farmers, who are struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Maria destroyed roughly 80% of their crop. Working with cross-sector local and international partners, TechnoServe is helping revive this important economic sector, training thousands of smallholder coffee farmers to significantly increase their yields and access better farming supplies, financing, and markets. Through sustainable agronomy and farm management training, individualized on-farm coaching, and linkages to other benefits programs, participating farmers will increase their income through improved productivity, quality, and access to premium markets and generate lasting prosperity for their families and communities.
Saint John’s School’s LEAD Collaborative is a public-private collaborative network launched in 2019 dedicated to building the capacity of K-12 school leaders and their communities through shared learning experiences that will improve academic outcomes for all students in Puerto Rico.
Since 2019, Fundación Colibrí has invested in the LEAD Collaborative by sponsoring local education leaders to participate in the group’s professional development program. In collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Education, LEAD Collaborative offers training and mentorship to develop the capacity of school leaders and equip them with necessary tools to prioritize instructional leadership, school culture, and parent and community engagement and achieve high-quality teaching and excellent outcomes.
The Puerto Rico Education Foundation (PREF) is a nonprofit, independent, apolitical organization established in 2017 dedicated to supporting the strategic innovation and transformation of public education in Puerto Rico through sustainable strategic alliances. PREF channels philanthropic resources to seed, monitor, and learn from pilot and demonstration projects with the potential of addressing the challenges faced by the local public schools.
Fundacion Colibrí awarded PREF a general operating support grant in 2019 to back their work providing professional training, mentorship, and technical assistance to leaders and teachers in the public education system; to build system capacity in the Regional Education Offices; and to enhance academic support strategies for schools to improve student outcomes.
Since 2020 Fundación Colibrí has also been supporting PREF’s leading role in a collaborative effort with the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) to develop an equitable, transparent, and fair student-based funding formula. The project will deliver a weight-based technological tool to calculate per pupil funding, outline a roadmap for implementation of the student-based formula, and offer training for PRDE’s staff. The project aims to achieve consistency, transparency, and equity in the allocation of public education resources as well as improved accountability.
Para la Naturaleza’s mission is to secure functional and healthy ecosystems on the islands of Puerto Rico, and to instill in their inhabitants a sense of responsibility toward the conservation of our natural resources, so that we may count on the ecosystem services that will help us achieve our social, economic and quality-of-life goals.
Fundación Colibrí is investing in PLN’s Solidarity Fund to support a partnership with the Instituto Nueva Escuela (INE) to develop the Montessori public school’s integrated ecological curriculum and collaborate in its implementation. The project will support the use of the curriculum in 20 Montessori public schools and the development of the following outdoor project-based learning spaces: (1) School botanical garden for reforestation of school grounds, (2) School vegetable and medicinal garden, (3) School butterfly farm, (4) School native tree and plant nursery, (5) At-home kitchen and vegetable garden, and (6) School Geodesic Dome outdoor classroom. The curriculum will be made available to all public schools in Puerto Rico.
Instiuto Nueva Escuela (INE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming Puerto Rico’s public education system through the Montessori philosophy and methodology, a scientifically proven pedagogical system based on a deep respect for children and their potential that equips them to find and pursue their life purpose through postsecondary education, employment, and commitment to the common good. INE’s Montessori public education project was born in the local public elementary school Nueva Escuela Juan Ponce de León 25 years ago.
Fundación Colibrí has invested in INE’s efforts since 2019 to support their work to transform school communities into environments where children develop necessary skills to be successful while also creating an environment that promotes a peaceful society. In 2020 Colibrí also committed to investing in INE’s 2025 Vision to accompany, train and serve communities in Puerto Rico by increasing the number of Montessori public schools from 52 to 100 in 5 years. .
The Multisensory Reading Centers of Puerto Rico (MRC) is a nonprofit organization, incorporated in 2012 by a local educator and entrepreneur who relived their own reading struggles with their children and first-grade students. They discovered the Orton-Gillingham (OG) methodology, a language-based, multisensory, structured, sequential, and cumulative approach to teaching reading that is neurologically and linguistically sound and is the most prevalent and successful model of reading intervention. MRC is dedicated to providing access to effective literacy instruction for struggling readers in Puerto Rico, particularly students with language-based learning disabilities. MRC envisions an education in which qualified and knowledgeable teachers meet the diverse literacy needs of all students regardless of their learning challenges and socioeconomic status in order for them to achieve their full potential.
In 2021, Fundación Colibrí will support MRC’s ongoing efforts to bring the OG reading learning method not only for students with dyslexia but for all emerging readers in Puerto Rico through the training of teachers to teach them how to work with struggling readers, thoroughly understand the process of literacy acquisition and helping students to increase their reading success. Recognizing the alarming increasing need for literacy acquisition in Puerto Rico public schools, MRC will use the Colibrí grant to build its organizational capacity, recruit an additional teacher training staff, engage in a strategic planning process to create a new business model, and develop and translate the curriculum and training materials to Spanish.
Good Sports is dedicated to providing kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing equipment, apparel, and footwear to those most in need since 2003.
Fundación Colibrí supported the joint efforts of Good Sports and the Puerto Rico Open, a professional golf tournament, to execute the organizations’ largest equipment donation to date, distributing brand new sports equipment to 24 organizations reaching more than 38,000 children and youth across the Island.
Fundación Operación Éxito is a nonprofit organization established in Puerto Rico in 2007 to democratize access to educational technology and differentiated education for all students -from Kinder to 12thGrade- and empower them to succeed in school. Its programs also support the professional development needs of educators and school administrators as key stakeholders for the successful implementation of technological tools. They have helped to improve student’s standardized test results and raise students’ level of competency, enjoyment, and application of STEM skills sparking their interest in related careers.
Colibri and Fundacion Operacion Exito spearheaded two programmatic efforts in 2020 after a series of devastating earthquakes caused major structural damage to most school buildings in the southwestern part of Puerto Rico. Colibrí funded access and training enabling displaced students and teachers to adopt the New Virtual School (NEV) learning platform. This initiative has benefited approximately 5,000 public school students and teachers and became an essential education resource just two months later as the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly forced all schools to transition to distance learning. Colibrí later sponsored the use of the NEV platform in the municipality of Culebra to address the remote learning challenges faced by students and teachers in the only public school in that small Island.
Separately, Colibrí funded the offering of Trauma Healing Training to health professionals in the southwest of Puerto Rico to equip them with techniques they could implement immediately after the earthquake to address the mental health needs of those impacted by the disaster.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a leading national non-profit organization established in 1967 focused on finding creative, lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. EDF’s approach links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships.
EDF has been working in Puerto Rico since 2018 with Colibrí’s support to identify effective and equitable energy solutions that can bring clean, resilient, community-centered power to the archipelago. One of their principal objectives on the Island is to ensure that future electric utility planning and regulations support low-carbon microgrids’ integration to advance a cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable energy system. Their efforts include intervening in the Integrated Resource Plan (“IRP”) proceedings in collaboration with local environmental groups to secure and shape other regulations needed to achieve the mandates in the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act (Act 17). Also, EDF will collaborate with community groups in the Municipality of Culebra to develop a plan that will offer low-carbon, distributed, resilient, and affordable energy access and serve as a model for the region.
The Center for a New Economy (CNE) is a nonprofit that seeks to inform current policy debates and find solutions to today’s most pressing and complex economic development problems by rigorously analyzing hard data and producing robust empirical research. It’s Puerto Rico’s first and foremost policy think tank, an independent, nonpartisan group that advocates for the development of a new economy for Puerto Rico. Over the last 20 years, CNE has championed the cause of a more productive and stable Puerto Rico through its offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.
Fundación Colibrí was a key supporter of CNE’s Puerto Rico Recovery Fund, which distributed more than 4.1 million pounds of humanitarian aid in the weeks and months following Hurricane Maria. In 2019, Fundación Colibrí supported CNE by sponsoring BlackStart 2019- Future of Energy Summit. The event, with an audience of 700, advocated for the implementation of public policies to secure reliable and affordable energy for the people of Puerto Rico. BlackStart was a turning point in the evolution of the public conversation from a hurricane recovery mindset to a dialogue around the urgency of developing a vision for Puerto Rico’s energy future. The event showcased cutting-edge proposals for resilient energy
The work of the Center for Education Reform is focused on expanding educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans, particularly the youth, ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom, and flexibility throughout U.S. education.
Fundación Colibrí supported CER’s work in Puerto Rico to develop the capacity of education leaders around a cultural mindset that embraces personalized, student-centered learning.
Caras con Causa, a grassroots organization founded in 2004, takes a community-based approach to sustainable development. focused on improving academic proficiency through educational programs that enable community-based management of natural resources and wetlands and develop a pipeline of people to employment opportunities to foster economic sustainability.
Fundación Colibrí has provided general operating support to Caras since 2020 for the operation of the Escuela con Causa/Rosalina C. Martínez School, a public charter school in the Amelia Community that serves students grades 6 to 12 from the municipalities of Cataño and Guaynabo. Caras engaged in the transformation of Escuela con Causa, previously a traditional public school, with the support of the community and as an extension of their long-standing engagement in the area. The school strives to promote the personal development of students and their families through a comprehensive offering of excellence and is an essential piece of Caras’ sustainable community development strategy.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR) has delivered comprehensive services to local youth for over 50 years. It is the largest youth-serving organization in Puerto Rico, with 13 locations that serve over 15,000 youth each year. BGCPR offers comprehensive programs around education, health, life skills, the arts, leadership, sports and recreation. Vimenti, established by the BGCPR, is the first center in Puerto Rico aimed at reducing multi-generational poverty. The poverty of children stands at 58%, double the rate of the mainland US.
Fundación Colibrí has invested in BGCPR since 2018 to support the establishment and operations of Vimenti Center, located in the Ernesto Ramos Antonini public housing project in San Juan. Vimenti adopts a two-generation model that serves low-income households in the area by providing support and opportunities to parents and children so that families can achieve economic mobility and break the generational cycle of poverty. Vimenti currently manages the first public charter school in Puerto Rico. The school is designed to deliver high-caliber education and demonstrated results for education reform.
The Youth Development Institute (YDI) is the only entity in Puerto Rico exclusively dedicated to promoting research and people-driven public policies that strengthen the economic security of families with children and youth, with the ultimate goal of drastically reducing child poverty on the island. YDI’s goal is that all children in Puerto Rico have the opportunities that allow them escape poverty and live with economic security.
Fundacion Colibri supports the YDI’s development and implementation of its grassroots campaign “Hijos de Borinquen”, aimed at creating a movement in which those affected by poverty, especially the youth and parents, share their stories and the ways in which lack of economic opportunity affects their lives. The main objective of the campaign is to build awareness and secure commitments to address and reduce child poverty in Puerto Rico.
About All Hands and Hearts addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. The organization communicates directly with local leaders and community members and then deploys its unique model of engaging volunteers to enable direct impact, helping to build safer, more resilient schools, homes, and infrastructure.
In 2018 Fundación Colibrí supported All Hands and Hearts’ Smart Response program in Puerto Rico to bring hope and renewal to communities in the southeastern municipalities of Yabucoa, Humacao, and Barranquitas, the area that bore the strongest brunt of Hurricane Maria. Their work, with ~100 volunteers on the ground, included mucking and gutting, debris removal, mold sanitation, tree removal, and home repairs.
Afya was established in 2007 to improve healthcare delivery and provide an environmentally responsible solution to the dire shortage of healthcare supplies in underserved communities globally. Afya coordinates with local medical professionals and facilitates customized shipments of rescued surplus and procured medical supplies and equipment that improve local health systems. The network of medical supply donors and volunteers enables Afya to meet immediate humanitarian needs in areas devastated by natural disaster or public health crises in tandem with their long-term programs to address chronic health disparities.
Fundación Colibrí supported Afya’s immediate response after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. In collaboration with local community groups AFYA provided relief support, medical supplies, and home care equipment to
older adults and other vulnerable populations Island-wide. Fundación Colibrí also supported Afya’s later efforts in 2019 to engage with local stakeholders and conduct an assessment of the ongoing need for medical supplies and equipment of the chronically ill and elderly population in nursing homes and receiving home care in Puerto Rico.