Q&A with Colin Crane, co-founder of Pulsera Project

Q: “How was the Pulsera Project founded?”

A: “Back in 2009 a group of us, who were some family and friends, had gone on a vacation to Nicaragua. I grew up with any trip we went on, we would try to find a way to volunteer and give back to the communities there. Especially in central America we knew there was a need in Nicaragua for service groups. While we were there doing more traditional tourist activities we were looking for ways we could help. Through that exploration we got partnered up with a shelter for youths. They along with those who ran the program made these awesome hand woven bracelets but didn’t have anywhere to sell them in a meaningful way. In terms of making money for themselves. So we had the idea to bring them back to the United States when we came back from that trip to just sell them to our family and friends. At the time, I was in school at American university and the other co-founder Chris was in school at college of Charleston in North Carolina. My parents had a friend who was a teacher in Pennsylvania and among the three of us we were just selling them at our schools as well and very quickly we saw that there was interest not only in the products but the story behind them as well and so it really started with no set plan in mind. We just came back with the bracelets we love to help these people we just met and that was close to 11 or 12 years ago now and every year since that first time we came back the project has grown a little more each year. The more schools that were involved the more people we could partner up with in Central America and vice versa. In short it started out as an experimental organic thing, just seeing if we can lend a hand to these awesome Artisans we met and 12 years later here we are still going strong.”


Q: “What is the main goal of the Pulsera Project?”

A: “There are two parts to it, one is to empower people in Nicaragua and Guatemala, those are the two countries we work with, and empower them with job opportunities and financial support in terms of programs that help lift them up out of poverty. Early on we saw that there is a huge difference between just giving money and giving things to people that makes them be reliant on that long term. What is really helpful is to give people the tools to empower themselves and their lives so they are in charge of their futures. The way we do that is providing jobs to Artisans and then reinvesting funds that are raised by the Pulsera sales into programs that are usually based around community empowerment programs, social impact programs, a wide range of things like that. Our other goal is to educate and get students in the US interested and aware of not only Latin American culture but just how service can work on an international scale from their own communities and doing the project in schools students learn about Latin American culture get a different picture painted of Nicaragua and Guatemala and Central America, I feel like often with charity work there is definitely a sense that ‘oh were helping poor people’ and we really try to move past that mindset more look at it as a cultural exchange where it is an equal exchange. The Artisans in Central America are providing us with incredible, beautiful artwork that represents the vibrancy of Latin American culture and in return the students are providing them access to the market of US schools and the financial resources for them.”


Q: “What do you hope people can learn from your cause?”

A: “I really hope that people, through the Pulsera Project will learn that helping people is not just giving things to people or pitying people who have less than us we really see the project as an exchange between the US and Central America and we really hope that at the end of the day people, whether it’s someone who bought a single bracelet or someone who is helping lead the Pulsera sale that they have grown and appreciation for the beauty of Latin American culture, a sense of comradery with the people whose hard work they are selling and that people understand there are many ways to help. There’s traditional giving, there’s charities and you can also get a cool product to help sustain employment and social impact programs for people. Just because a country is economically poor doesn’t mean that they are not very rich in other ways.”


Q: “Why was the project named Pulsera?”

A: “Very simple answer there, pulsera is the Spanish word for bracelet and the Pulsera Project was just the casual name we were calling this growing venture because we didn’t have a company name so we just referred to it as the pulsera project. When it came time to actually establish an organization we all just liked that name and it stuck.”


Q: “Anything else you would like to add?”

A: “This is the fourth time that PSHS has done a Pulsera sale since 2016.”

“Over the course of three Pulsera sales you have in total raise $3,170 so far (not including the most recent one)”