How the Starbucks Foundation is supporting education in coffee communities
When Helem Aleyda Chavarría grows up, she dreams of becoming a pediatrician.
“I like to work with and be around children,” the 13-year-old from Nicaragua said.
She knows education is the key to her future. But for decades, her rural coffee-producing community in Jinotega had no school.
That all changed in 2002 when Helem’s grandfather, Marcos Antonio Chavarría, generously donated some of his land. He’s a coffee producer who has been selling to Starbucks for 10 years. His land eventually became the home for Las Marías School where eight of his grandchildren and one great-grandchild are currently students.
“I feel proud and happy at the same time because in reality, it has been progress for all. Not only for us Chavarría family but for the community as a whole, preferably for those who are poor who cannot afford to study. It has been very good,” Chavarría said.
Since 2005, the Starbucks Foundation has been investing in coffee-growing countries around the world. Through Origin Community Grants, we’ve supported many different needs in these communities. In 2014 and 2015 alone, the Starbucks Foundation granted more than $4.7 million to projects in Nicaragua, Colombia, Guatemala, Sumatra, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Nicaragua, one community need is enhancing education. In 2014, we collaborated with the Seeds for Progress Foundation, a nonprofit supporting education and health in coffee-growing regions of Nicaragua.
The Starbucks Foundation is contributing $300,000 over a three-year period to help support Seeds for Progress projects. The grant is helping improve reading, writing and math skills for 2,700 students through technology and new educational practices. Eight schools are benefitting, including Las Marías School.
At Las Marías School specifically, the grant has helped to provide training for teachers. It’s also helped to fund infrastructure updates, including the installation of an electrical system and construction of a drinkable water system.
“Its impact has been to date huge in the access to education for these students and students in surrounding communities who didn't have a place to study and who are now working to graduate,” Seeds for Progress Facilitator Nayibe Montenegro said.
More than 400 students attend Las Marías School today. This year, the first class of students will graduate from high school.