Theory of Change

We believe that if you nurture the spirit of a people, they will lead themselves. Rather than do things for people, we seek to welcome the most vulnerable, nurture their gifts and capacities, and put them to work.


Over the years, Vista Hermosa Foundation has supported many great causes, but we have learned that truly sustainable change must come from within the people themselves, in the places where they live, doing the work that is theirs to do.

We focus on community-based initiatives that are people focused and locally led.  Rather than address needs through projects or inputs, what we seek to nurture is a mindset change. As people are able to embrace their own sense of worth, purpose and agency, build trusting, supportive relationships with those around them, and see available resources differently, they are empowered to affect change in their own lives.

We draw on three great bodies of work to inform our thinking


Servant Leadership

Gaining a deeper sense of connection to God, self, others, and place; embracing call and purpose in life; and pursuing Robert Greenleaf’s call to be affirmative builders of a better society

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Toxic Charity

Rejecting hand-outs  and top-down approaches which foster dependency, destroy human dignity and purpose, and undermine the ability of people to transform their own lives


NEAR Sciences

Understanding the neuroscience and epigenetics of trauma and toxic stress in people’s lives, with a focus on building resiliency and supportive relationships in community


Our Theory of Change — Building Supportive Operating Systems

We believe that building systems which are more life-giving for those served involves three simple principles – 1) welcoming the most vulnerable with respect and dignity; 2) discovering their gifts and capacities; and 3) putting those gifts to work in the workplace and in the community.

By practicing these core principles, we nurture the Spiritual Wellbeing of a people in four domains:

  • God: belovedness, worship and prayer life, call and purpose
  • Self: identity, peace, joy, meaning in life, hope, autonomy
  • Others: love, trust, respect, foregiveness, kindness, unity
  • Place: oneness, harmony with nature, stewardship of resources

These principles are lived out and measured in all four sectors of holistic, flourishing communities:

  • Healthy Lifestyles: physical/social/emotional safety, preventative care
  • Life-Enhancing Education: preparedness, life skills, creativity, vocation
  • Sufficient Economies: financial stability, cooperation, resource management
  • Engaged Citizens: third spaces, associations, networks of inclusivity, solidarity