Bridging the Border

January 2023 | Issue 12

FESAC, the largest philanthropic NGO in Sonora, Mexico, introduces our Bulletin readers to the state of Sonora, a border state critical to the future of the US and Mexico.

Pictured above are the executive directors of FESAC's three chapters. Left to right: Alma Cota de Yanez (Nogales), Andrea García Calles (Hermosillo), Denisse Rodriguez (Obregón).

Sonora is Mexico’s 2nd largest state, bounded by the United States, Mexico, and the Gulf of California. The three major cities are the capital Hermosillo, Obregón, and Nogales. Each of these cities is the site of a FESAC chapter. The region has remarkable cultural and ecological diversity, with miles of gorgeous beaches, desert moonscapes and world-class resorts.

Sonora’s rich history of indigenous cultures native to Sonora includes the Mayo, Yaqui, Pima, Seri, Cucapá, Papago, and Guarijio. The Kikapú immigrated to Sonora but have maintained a presence in the state for more than 100 years, so they are considered to be indigenous Sonorans.

The border region of Mexico and the US is increasingly referred to as the “Third Country”. Given the economic interdependence and rich shared social and cultural history of this cross-border region, many see a need for new systems of governance that transcend the limitations of the current political policies of Mexico and the US.

FESAC board members are pictured above.

Sonora appears to be on its way to becoming Mexico’s Silicon Valley of clean energy. In the fall of 2022, the government of Sonora announced a federal decision to permit a solar power plant that reportedly will be the largest in Latin America when completed.

Challenges and threats to the future of Sonora include water shortage, climate change, migration, and criminal activity. 

Who is building the future?

Pictured above is Luis Torres, the chairman of the state FESAC board of directors.

Founded in 1999, FESAC is an independent Mexican community foundation made up of state business organizations that focuses on social investment in the state of Sonora. It is an autonomous nonprofit with no political or religious affiliation. FESAC is dedicated to meeting the most pressing needs of the community, generating development opportunities, and improving the quality of life for all Sonorans. FESAC has offices and programs in the major cities of Hermosillo, Obregon, and Nogales. 

FESAC focuses on:

  • Mobilization of human and financial resources to support projects of civil society organizations in the state of Sonora.
  • Promotion of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility in Sonora, to raise awareness about the critical role of business in the fight against poverty and social inequality.
  • Professionalization of civil society organizations by providing them with training to support the efficient management of their assets and programs.

The following articles in this Bulletin as well as past issues will provide information about the innovative social investment projects FESAC has created and nurtured. Find out how you, your company, your foundation, or your family can become part of this dynamic international community development organization that is creating good news on the border. 

Updates from Casa de la Misericordia

In FESAC’s last Bulletin for 2022, the lead article featured news on one of the most innovative educational programs for families in shelters on the border. Casa de la Misericordia, perched on a steep hillside in Nogales, Sonora, has been providing shelter, food, education, and hope to hundreds of asylum-seeking families for years. As described in the article, FESAC assisted Casa to become home to the first school in a Nogales shelter.

A young girl whose family is seeking asylum jumps rope outside of Casa de la Misericordia's one-of-a-kind school "Escuelika" in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

The FESAC Bulletin checked in with Lika, the Director of Casa in the middle of January. She let us know that over 100 Venezuelans who were staying in Casa last year have been sent, without their knowledge or agreement, to Hermosillo – a sad echo of how some migrants have been treated in the US. On January 16th, 50 new migrants arrived at the shelter. Given the rapid and often confusing changes in US and Mexican policies for migrants and asylum seekers, these new families, and the hundreds sure to follow will find help and compassion at Casa. FESAC works with Casa constantly to assist them to adjust their education and job training programs to meet the ever-changing needs of these families.

"Strong people build each other up, instead of destroying each other." Pictured above is one of the murals recently painted at Casa de la Misericordia.

Lika, a well-known artist, was one of 12 local artists honored by Confluence Center at the University of Arizona through a grant given to FESAC for local artists. Lika shared photos of her just completed murals. These murals give artistic expression to the courage of migrant families and the hope for a future that sustains them on their journey.

"The best place to live is where you do not fear anyone or anything, where you can run without fear and not run because of fear."

In the year ahead, FESAC will work with Casa, and the network of Sonoran NGOs that provide critical services, to meet the challenges posed by this unprecedented movement of families to the border region seeking safety and a chance for a better life. FESAC will reach out for help to each of you, your families, your faith communities, and community groups as well as foundations and corporations. Please respond so that we can, together, meet this historic challenge to our humanity and our capacity to love and live beyond borders.

FESAC sponsors health research in Nogales shelters

Kerry McCulloch, FESAC health research intern trains local students for fieldwork in Nogales shelters housing asylum seekers and migrants.

The summary of findings report below was prepared by Kerry McCulloch, MPH at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and FESAC academic public health research intern.

In early February 2022, Kerry McCulloch led a field survey team to collect data at three migrant and asylum-seeker shelters in the border city of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The objective of surveying the shelters’ residents is to better understand the health needs of people who are migrating and staying at the shelters. With this data, shelters can make informed decisions about allocating resources and implementing interventions to meet specific health needs.

Key Findings:

  • Mental health and reproductive health issues are the most pressing health issues facing the population residing in the shelters of Nogales.
  • The majority (85%) of those surveyed are seeking asylum in the United States. The main reasons for migrating include escaping violence, particularly criminal violence, and armed conflict.
  • The study population is relatively young and in good physical health. Most of the respondents traveled with their families from Southern Mexico or Central America.

This important research study will be released in full in the next issue of the FESAC Bulletin. FESAC is committed to sponsoring research that will support and inform needed changes in public health and community development programs.

Introducing FESAC's Stanford Interns

Rayan is passionate about community upliftment from social, health, and economic avenues and hopes to utilize his studies in the STEM field for modern philanthropic solutions.

Shafin has an interest in helping others and giving back to the community. If everyone helped those in poverty the way they were instructed to, there would be no one struggling financially or with food.

How To Support FESAC's Social Investment Work

Given that this border migration crisis will go on for years, a regular monthly contribution will give FESAC a predictable income stream. If you know people interested in this cause, send them to the FESAC contact on this bulletin or direct them to FESAC Sr Advisor Bob Phillips at for further information. Your contribution is tax-deductible. It will make the families at the border know that they are not forgotten and that their lives matter! 

To support the asylum seeker education program at Casa Misericordia, click "Donate Now" and review the instructions below. You will be directed to FESAC's partner organization, BCA. This IRS-approved partnership allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions to Mexican organizations. We work closely with Border Community Alliance (BCA), a US Nonprofit based in Tubac, Arizona, to bring resources, education and hope to the Nogales community.

How to donate to the education program:

  • You do not need an account to donate through BCA, so you can close the pop-up window
  • Indicate "asylum seeker education program" in your donor note
  • Under Campaign, select "Mexican Pass Thru"
  • Under Mexico Pass Thru select "FESAC Sonoran Community Foundation"

Help us provide quality education to children in border communities so that they can recapture their future!

Donate Now

The bulletin is produced by FESAC volunteers dedicated to spreading awareness of the amazing human service work performed daily by local NGOs as the Nogales community responds to a growing crisis at the border. Click here to view our past issues.

FESAC | | Website

FESAC Board Chair – Luis A. Torres Muñoz

FESAC Executive Director – Alma Cota de Yanez

Senior Advisor to FESAC – Robert T. Phillips

Health Research Intern - Kerry McCulloch

Bulletin Editor - Nancy Lopez-Alvarez

Research & Media Intern - Rayan Ansari

Research & Media Intern - Shafin Syed Khan