In times like these where most things are uncertain, we know that there’s one thing we can always count on…people rising up to help those in need, near and far.

These past few months have been incredibly challenging for everyone around the world, especially for our brothers and sisters in Guatemala. Schools remain closed, leaving millions of students to continue their education from home. Not to mention that many students and their families are struggling with much more than just their studies.

Helping Those Nearby

Earlier this year, all of the communities and villages in the municipalities of Chimaltenango had organized and strongly limited travel to avoid the risk of COVID-19 spread. Unfortunately, this put many villagers in a situation where they couldn’t access enough food to feed their families. But since some of their children were students in our Rise Youth Development Program, Local Facilitator Maribel quickly heard about their situation thanks to the program’s frequent monitoring.

Our staff in Guatemala sprang into action and started searching for support through various initiatives. Through a personal connection, Augusto, CoEd’s Subdirector of Programs, entered a request to the Monte Basán Church in Guatemala City, which was putting together food donations for families in need.

At the end of May, CoEd staff and a group of church members loaded the bags of food into one of CoEd’s white trucks, provided by a team member who lives near the community, and made the trip up the mountain to deliver the food. In total, 85 bags of food were handed out to families in those communities, including the families of four Rise students! 

Helping Those Far Away

Just like throwing a stone into a pond, sponsoring a student in the Rise Youth Development Program creates ripples that not only impact one student’s life for the better, but continues to impact generation after generation of students in Guatemala, even during a pandemic.

José is just one example of our amazing Rise graduates coming back to mentor and teach the next generation of kids in Guatemala. He entered the Rise Program in 2010 thanks to his sponsors, who started the first of many ripples.

In 2015, José beat the odds, graduated high school, and started his career as an accountant. Moving onto present day, José reached out to CoEd to offer his expertise in accounting and volunteered to offer online tutoring during the pandemic for current Rise students, spreading the ripples of support further and further as time goes on! 

Continuing to Rise Up

Rise Youth Development Program

In June alone, our Rise Program team made over 1,600 phone calls to Rise students in their communities, checking on their health and sending out homework assignments. We also started using our COVID-19 Student Relief Fund to provide additional financial support on a case-by-case basis to students whose families are struggling to meet their basic needs and to cover scholarships for students whose sponsors are unable to continue their support.

The Spark Reading Program and Textbook Program teams have also been rising up to the challenge and began training teachers online this quarter.

Textbook Program

Approximately 500 dedicated teachers and principals from Textbook Program schools joined our training via Zoom in late May! The training session allowed the teachers and school administrators to learn how to use an online portal that provides a host of additional educational resources linked directly to their textbooks for each grade and subject, improving their teaching methods and allowing them to be the best they can be for their students during this difficult time.

Spark Reading Program

In late June, our Spark team of dynamic trainers quickly pivoted to begin training the teachers in the program online via Zoom as well. Even from home, our Spark teachers are making a huge difference in their communities by delivering reading books and study guides to their students’ homes with plans to safely rotate books from one student to another over the course of the school year!

Computer Centers Program

With the Computer Centers Program, it is more difficult to continue offering courses at home since 98% of students do not have computers or internet. Luckily, with the support of the CoEd team, teachers have developed different strategies to deliver content. Some of these include handing out printed materials, sharing study guides on social networks, giving remote classes through Zoom or Google Meet, and having virtual classes in Google Classroom. Most of these strategies take advantage of smartphones and we’ve been able to implement them in approximately 70% of our Computer Centers Program schools! The CoEd computer team is also developing a strategy to condense course content for when students return to school, ensuring every student gets the opportunity to learn what they would have covered in class during the pandemic.

One Thing Stays the Same

We are so thankful that we can always count on our amazing supporters and team to help these programs exist and impact education in Guatemala, not only during normal times, but also during times of crisis. A million thanks for all you do!

Yours in service,

Joe Berninger
Executive Director

For more frequent updates on CoEd’s response to COVID-19, please visit our Facebook (@coeduc) and Instagram (@cooperativeforeducation) pages.

Want to help students in need during COVID-19?