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Rooted in San Diego, California and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico,

Via International is a non-profit organization (EIN: 95-2961670)

with extensive relationships of trust across Mexico and Central America.

Our Vision

We envision a world where all people live in just, sustainable, and healthy communities.

Our Mission

Working across borders, we engage leaders to promote sustainable development in under resourced communities.

Our Method

Our process is participatory where people identify their needs and take individual and collective action to improve the quality of life.

Our Principles & Values

  • Human Dignity – Dignidad Humana
  • Social Justice – Justicia Social
  • Peace – Paz
  • Self-reliance – Autogestión
  • Sustainability – Sustentabilidad
  • Human Formation/Development – Formación Humana
  • Community Development – Desarrollo Comunitario
  • Leadership – Liderazgo
  • Autonomy – Autonomía
  • Decision Making – Tomar Decisiones

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable Community Development is a global movement to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The United Nations has set  Sustainable Development Goals to address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. As a part of this global movement, and informed by its history and experience, VIA INTERNATIONAL (or, simply, “Via”) has developed its own unique approach. Incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the United States in 1976, we work closely with our sister organization, LOS NIÑOS DE BAJA CALIFORNIA (or, simply, “Los Niños”), which was established as an “Asociación Civil” in Mexico in 1988. We have spent 45 years building relationships of trust with community leaders from across the California/Baja California bioregion and indeed around the world.

Via hosts three Major Initiatives

Via Community Development promotes sustainable community development from the US-Mexico border region to Mexico, Central America and beyond.

Via Global Education creates opportunities to learn from local leaders and engage directly in the work of sustainable community development.

Via Borderlands Institute creates educational opportunities across boundaries and barriers in the California – Baja California border region. viainternational.org/borderlands


Via supports local engagement as a participatory process in which individuals identify community needs and organize themselves to take the actions necessary to improve quality of life. It is not a linear process but a “caracol de desarrollo” or spiral of development that advances and retreats both individually and collectively. Slow and inclusive, integrated community development values patience, persistence and respect, and helps build paths to self-reliance for an interdependent world.

Since 1975, Via has fostered community initiatives based on the ideals of sustainability and well-being that support local community members to teach nutrition, develop family gardens and address local environmental issues. What naturally evolved from this programming was a realization among participants that economic sustainability and well-being was needed to maintain quality of life improvements. As a result, micro-credit loans became an avenue to enhance family income as well as build community through solidarity loan groups.

Via’s expertise lies in developing relationships at the grassroots level and listening and responding to the needs of each community. As a result, much of our current programming has been initiated through the needs and desires expressed by project participants themselves. Other program areas developed through this participatory approach include a university-credentialed leadership education program as well as our educational travel programs that integrate and educate student visitors in community sustainability efforts.

Four Key Principals

  • Safety in Community with Expert Local Knowledge & Supervision
  • Long-term Relationships with Local Partners
  • Hands-on Learning through Immersive Education
  • Sustained Impact through Integrated Volunteer Service

Safety in Community

Safety is a priority to Via International and we focus on a combination of resources to provide safe volunteer travel experiences and community engagement. Our over 45 years of experience in the field has taught us to employ local experts engaging in community projects and cultural exchange through group activities. Our team in each location is a ‘family’ and when you travel with us, you become a part of it. This is possible due to the fact that Via supports programs that are responsive to locally defined needs, relying on close partnerships with local organizations and the leadership of local residents.

Long Term Relationships

We are proud to work with a host of dynamic local partners oriented toward long-term engagement of complex socioeconomic challenges with a commitment to work toward community level solutions.” to the following: We are proud to collaborate with a host of dynamic local partners oriented to a long-term commitment to addressing complex socioeconomic challenges and working toward community level solutions.

Hands on Learning

We believe that service and cultural exchange helps to raise awareness of the complexities and interconnectivity of these unique communities while simultaneously providing a vehicle for transparency, support, and an influx of much needed energy.

Sustained Impact

When joining Via International, you become part of an extensive support network reaching an estimated 25,000 people each year in communities around the world. We support international development initiatives through our Integrated Volunteer Travel Programs with international volunteering opportunities in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Sri Lanka. In addition, we have domestic programs in San Diego and Appalachia. Each of these is designed to improve quality of life through nutrition and ecology training, community leadership education and/or microcredit and micro-enterprise support.

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