First Class Graduates from Rural School in Nicaragua

In 2014, The Starbucks Foundation launched a three-year, $300,000 program with the Seeds for Progress Foundation to help improve healthcare and education in remote coffee-growing regions of Nicaragua. The grant is helping improve reading, writing and math skills for 2,700 students at eight schools through technology and new educational practices.

Two years later, here’s the story of one school helped by the program, now preparing for its first high school graduating class.

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 for her school. 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, the 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.

Seeds for Progress

Since 2005, The Starbucks Foundation has been investing in coffee-growing countries around the world.

Through Origin Community Grants, the company has 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.

At Las Marías School, the grant has provided training for teachers for its 400 students. It has also funded infrastructure updates, including the installation of an electrical system and construction of a drinkable water system.

Seeds for Progress Facilitator Nayibe Montenegro said the program has been life-changing for students.

“Its impact to date has been 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,” Montenegro said.

Photo credit: Kuba Okon

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