Nourish International starts locally to combat global poverty


Lives of Kenyan women are transformed as they break through the dark realms of sexual slavery and rediscover their identity.

Guatemalans native to the rainforest resist the temptation to exploit their natural resources.

Marginalized and handicapped children in India have the opportunity to go to school and realize their potential.

When sophomore Haylee Vieregg, the founder and president of the TCU Chapter of Nourish, heard about the impact of Nourish International from a friend, she was convinced the TCU community had potential to be impactful in eradicating global poverty.

The mission of Nourish is “to engage students and empower communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty.”

Though bold, the mission is not as lofty as it seems. Nourish chapters raise funds and awareness locally through social ventures in order to carry out an international project with the partner of their choice.

Vieregg’s friend, Frances Schick, a senior at UNC Chapel Hill, where Nourish was established, interned at the organization’s headquarters for a year. Schick told Vieregg that she had never been part of a nonprofit that did things the way Nourish does.

“Their intense focus on reciprocity creates a web of symbiotic relationships that are fruitful for all parties involved,” Schick said.

With seeds planted on over 60 university campuses across the United States, Nourish is connecting communities and causes to cultivate change on a global scale. This semester, the newly established TCU Nourish has the opportunity to continue the organization’s legacy.

The progressive Nourish model is centered on sustainability and reciprocity. Campus chapters are required to work not on behalf of, but alongside the international communities they are paired with, creating a genuine partnership.

Vieregg said the Nourish model of mutual service is what drew her to the organization.

“While well intentioned, many organizations dedicated to fighting poverty swoop into underdeveloped communities for about a week at a time to paint pretty walls or distribute some food,” Vieregg said. “Then they’re gone as quickly as they came. The sprinkling of this ‘philanthropic fairy dust’ doesn’t formulate lasting change.”

This focus on sustainability begins domestically. Before Vieregg was able to found the TCU Chapter, she attended a week-long conference for Nourish chapter presidents in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she and student leaders from across the nation were taught leadership skills to guide others in becoming what Nourish calls “long term agents of change.”

The Nourish headquarters requires the monthly submission of a calendar of events and a weekly conference call where chapter presidents provide updates on their progress, online workshops and help with securing vendors.

This heavy involvement ignites brainstorming about new ventures and reformulating plans, which fosters continuous movement from a static foundation. This marriage of consistency and creativity integrates two rarely combined entities and is what sets Nourish apart from other nonprofits.

The Nourish model is also unique in that each chapter is given the autonomy to design their own social ventures that reflect a deep understanding of their local community. This concept is applied abroad when chapters engage with communities in 28 countries, taking into account the local values in designing their summer projects.

In selecting an international project, TCU Nourish members want to make sure they feel connected to the cause and the community they choose to partner with.

Sophomore founding member Olivia Thomas said it’s important to help any future international partners empower themselves.

“We shouldn’t just focus on how much impact we make. But rather, are we making the right kind of impact? It’s about quality, not quantity,” Thomas said.

Vieregg has submitted two international project proposals that could place TCU Nourish in Guatemala this summer.

One project would provide a community on the border of Guatemala and Belize technical support for sustainable activities, building fuel-efficient stoves and constructing tree nurseries. The other project would work with women in a community to develop a curriculum on various business topics to promote female entrepreneurship.

TCU Nourish is recruiting new members and drafting plans to raise money to fund their Guatemala projects.

“Being a new chapter, we are just trying to recruit new members and spread the word about our existence on campus and we have some exciting fundraising events in the works,” Vieregg said.

A raffle, D.J. set at The Aardvark and a late night pancake extravaganza have been discussed.