John Coonrod Empowers Poor People to Lift Themselves Out of Poverty

John Coonrod Empowers Poor People
John Coonrod is the Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project — a non-profit organization that helps give poor people the means to lift themselves out of poverty. As part of this organization’s leadership, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by placing special emphasis on female farmers, who are among the poorest people in the world.


Coonrod has been advocating for social justice for a very long time. While he was training as a physicist at Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley, he was an active member of local civil rights and anti-war movements. When The Hunger Project was first founded in March of 1977, John Coonrod was its first volunteer and he continued to volunteer while he worked at Princeton University from 1978 to 1984.

In 1985, he became an official member of The Hunger Project’s staff. In addition to meeting his future wife while working at The Hunger Project, Coonrod used — and still uses — his expertise to help poor people in developing countries. To this day, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty.

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project is a non-profit organization that seeks to end poverty and world hunger by pioneering grassroots movements. While it believes that everyone should be free of poverty and hunger, they place a special focus on women and gender equality. The reason for this is that women are typically in charge of meeting a family’s needs, but are often denied the means and resources to do so by their society.

The Hunger Project currently works with organizations in 11 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Bangladesh, India and Mexico. Between these countries, they have helped more than 85 organizations start 2,900 projects. In addition, they have chapters and investors in Australia, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Peru, Switzerland and the U.K.

In all of the countries where they work, The Hunger Project seeks to empower women, mobilize communities and engage local governments. In India, for example, their main focus is on helping women get elected into local governments. The organization has done this in nearly 2,000 panchayants (clusters of villages) across 6 states, and the women they have helped now lead 9 million people.

In Africa, The Hunger Project helps turn clusters of villages into epicenters where up to 15,000 people can band together to help their communities thrive. These epicenters, in turn, create their own development programs, which reach more than 1.6 million people across the continent. In Bangladesh, local volunteers, especially women and children, are mobilized to reach 185 sustainable development goals in their communities, reaching 5 million people. Finally, in Mexico, community development focuses on indigenous women and children, helping to improve childhood and maternal nutrition; this admirable work reaches 21,000 people.

Partners A-Plenty

The Hunger Project has numerous partners in the countries where they work. One of these partners is Rotary International, a global organization in which 1.2 million people work in sustainable projects to improve life in general across the globe. This includes fighting diseases, providing water, supporting educations, saving mothers and children, growing local economies and promoting peace. The Hunger Project mainly works with Rotary International in Ethiopia, where Rotary International uses vocational training to teach doctors how to resuscitate newborns.

In India, SKL International is a major partner of The Hunger Project. SKL International is a Swedish organization that uses the model of Sweden’s extensive local governments as a baseline to help developing countries achieve democracy. Like The Hunger Project, SKL International’s main goal in India is getting local women elected.

In Mexico, The Hunger Project works with Water For Humans — a non-profit organization that uses sustainable technology to bring clean water to those who need it, especially in Mexico. The organization is currently working on helping indigenous people build eco-cookstoves which require less wood than traditional stoves, need only one fire to work in multiple burners at once, and keeps coffee warm every day — as is culturally preferred.

Local Empowerment

All in all, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by helping to create and promote local movements, especially women-centric movements, that promote community welfare and engage with local governments. By working with several partners in various countries around the world, John Coonrod and The Hunger Project make lives better for women and other people across the globe.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr