Saint Joseph’s University and Fe y Alegría Bolivia first began a partnership in 2001, with the goal of working in three areas: (1) training and research, (2) immersion trips and (3) fundraising initiatives. While the partnership remains primarily focused in the aforementioned areas the partnership continues to develop and evolve based on partners’ needs, resources and vision. For example, Saint Joseph’s recently produced a video to celebrate Fe y Alegría Bolivia’s 50th anniversary.

fya Bolivia

(2012 Saint Joseph’s University delegation to visit Fe y Alegría Bolivia. Photo courtesy of Faith-Justice Institute)

This partnership, which now enters into its 16th year, is facilitated by The Faith-Justice Institute at Saint Joseph’s University. Recently, Friends of Fe y Alegría had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Marie Jursca Keffer, Interim Director at the Faith-Justice Institute, who kindly answered to our questions about this partnership.

“Hi, My Name is Ann Marie Jursca Keffer and I work at Saint Joseph’s University’s Faith-Justice Institute in Philadelphia, PA. The Institute offers courses and programs which promote social analysis and critical thought around faith and justice issues. Through our course offerings and programs we foster a culture encouraging academically rigorous consideration of social problems and their solutions from a standpoint a faith-filled concern for justice.

Naturally, Fe y Alegría Bolivia provides an outstanding example of how social issues like global education and the right to quality education for everyone can be addressed. Together through community-based research, workshops or immersions, our partnership models person-centered engagement with a shared Ignatian mission.

One example of mutual benefit can be seen in an undergraduate Data Analysis course where the faculty member and students are working with Fe y Alegría Bolivia staff in identifying the fifteen percent poorest students in any given population by analyzing survey responses with an end result of FyA student retention.  SJU students learn about the day-to-day circumstances like access to running water that effect student participation in Bolivia while integrating their academic knowledge. Through the work of FyA SJU students see a personalized story of social inequity.  As one student says, “In this class my studies matter (outside the classroom).”

As I have personally witnessed both the transformation of SJU students and FyA Bolivia communities, I believe education will enable us to create a more just world. ¡Viva Fe y Alegría!”

Ann Marie additionally organized a fundraising campaign at Saint Joseph’s in December, which raised over $700 to support Fe y Alegría Bolivia graduates as they start their own businesses.

To learn more about Fe y Alegría Bolivia, please visit: