The Columbia University Puerto Rico Initiative was founded in January 2018 by a group of SIPA students concerned about the lack of attention given to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The group saw a need to use its policy expertise and the resource of Columbia University to positively impact the situation on the island. The diverse group of students who traveled to Puerto Rico to aid in the recovery emerged with a sense not only that the university and federal government must lend a greater hand, but that the residents of the commonwealth should be empowered to design and lead their own recovery.