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Café Solar® supports the partnership of U Mass Lowell students and faculty with the organizations of small producers that are adopting clean technology and forest-friendly farming systems. The program is the result of collaboration between the non-profit Mesoamerican Development Institute (MDI), U Mass Lowell, U Mass Amherst, and Central American Universities.

The multidisciplinary program is known as the Networked Entrepreneurial Research Center (NERC) and is focused on a women-managed coffee cooperative COMISUYL that is building on award-winning research in the implementation of an alternative rural development model that allows small producers to engage in farming and processing methods that are in harmony with adjacent national parks threatened by conventional production methods. The program allows student and faculty researchers to participate in cutting edge international research, education and marketing programs that are supporting the introduction of clean technology for rural communities, women’s empowerment and training, and new high-biodiversity agroforesty systems endorsed by the US Forest Services for coffee, essential oil, and biofuel production.

As the sustainable coffee choice at U Mass Lowell, Café Solar® is available through University Dining, and is certified Fair Trade and organic, in addition to being the world’s first coffee processed using renewable energy technology. Café Solar® is also now available online through where customers can identify as UML alumni, friends or family in the shopping cart, and a dollar per transaction will be placed in the NERC research and scholarship fund.

The accrued funds will be applied to selected student participants in the NERC program, as well as to support relevant faculty research through the Center for Women and Work (CWW) at U Mass Lowell. CWW and its associates are researching the impact of the Café Solar® program on the women, families, and communities of COMISUYL.

mesoamerican partnerships