Our Story

JustHope’s founder and Executive Director, Leslie Penrose began working to address systemic poverty in Nicaragua in 1986. After Hurricane Mitch hit Central America, in 1998, Leslie and a small group established a partnership with leaders in Chacraseca, Nicaragua — a small farming community outside Leon with 1500 households (8000 people) and an average income of $1 per person per day — to engage together in long-term community development.

leslie-and-rosa---partners-in-education-projectOver the next several years, this small but committed group worked side by side with the leadership of Chacraseca on projects to build schools and houses, initiate a school-lunch program, create a microlending program for farmers, and begin what would become a ten-year long project to bring clean water to the whole community. In 2007, Leslie established JustHope as a social-profit organization to strengthen and broaden the solidarity work being done in Chacraseca… and expand it to other communities in Nicaragua. In 2008 a partnership was created with the small coffee-dependent community of Santa Emilia in the department of Matagalpa; and in 2009 the mountain top community of La Flor was added as a third partner community.

By the beginning of 2016, JustHope has grown to include over 50 partnerships including colleges and universities, businesses, service groups, faith based groups, other non-profits, and two Nicaraguan governmental agencies. We have expanded the styles of partnership to include Faith-based Covenant Partnerships, Service Learning Partnerships, and Corporate Partnerships. We are leading an average of 20 partnertrips per year to Nicaragua, and managing integrated development programs in our Nicaraguan partner communities focused on Health, Education, Social Enterprise, Agriculture, and Leadership Development. We currently have 12 full-time and part-time program and operations staff — 3 in the US and 9 in Nicaragua.

Read more about JustHope's history here.

Read some of our travelers' post-PartnerTrip reflections here .