Back in 2009, the yet-to-be-incorporated Pure Water Access Project held its first meeting in Siebert Hall. We had done our best to spread the word about an exciting opportunity to every undergraduate in the dorm - a new organization that would do…something…to help fight the clean water crisis.
Unfortunately, only the eventual co-founders came to the second meeting.
But months later, we landed on an idea worth pursuing - we would assist other small-to-medium sized nonprofits by studying the sociocultural barriers to the sustained success of their clean water interventions. In other words, we would use research to find out which clean water interventions worked and to make all interventions more effective. After a few more months, we figured out how to apply for nonprofit status, and the Pure Water Access Project was born.
With idea and incorporation in hand, we needed a partner and a first project. We sent out dozens of packets (via US mail) looking for existing nonprofits who might be willing to give a fledgling nonprofit enterprise a chance to do some good. Only Global Water was willing to take a chance on us.
But from that first collaborative project in 2012, we grew the Pure Water Access Project into a nonprofit that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the clean water sector, educated dozens of US students about nonprofits, and helped thousands by assisting small-to-medium sized groups with their WASH efforts.
And while we helped so many, so many helped us. The Ohio State University offered mentorship. The Batelle Memorial Institute gave us our first big grant. Spectral Energies provided reliable funding every year. AMOS Health and Hope continued to be a consistent charitable partner. New students infused the passion and skill necessary to power the Pure Water Access Project towards its mission.
When we co-founded the Pure Water Access Project, we did so with the knowledge that the clean water sector was already crowded. In fact, we only went through with founding the nonprofit because experts assured us that our mission was unique enough to warrant the additional competition for funding and volunteer time it might bring. With so many great water charities in the world, we told ourselves we would not exist just to exist - the moment we felt others could do our job better than we could, we would let them.
In 2019, the Pure Water Access Project was faced with a decision. To continue with significantly higher overhead costs and less money for the projects we care about so deeply, or to find a new way to strive for our mission. With data and accessible analytic tools becoming ubiquitous, combined with rising challenges of running a Columbus-based nonprofit from afar and our personal need to focus our professional efforts on the US healthcare system, we decided that the best way for the Pure Water Access Project to fight for the clean water sector for decades to come was to return to where it all began. So we created a scholarship fund at The Ohio State University to continue to support undergraduates interested in using data to make the world better.
This new beginning is bittersweet, but we know our partners and funders are all mission-driven, and this is without a doubt the best way to keep fighing for the cause we care about.
And so we close with thank you. Thank you for believing in us and for believing in the cause. Thank you for providing us with some of our best friends and some of our most meaningful work.
Now, there is so much work to be done in the world, let’s do some good.