Apr 17, 2017

AniMate! Kicking Off a New Math Program

The 4th-6th grade teachers who participated
The 4th-6th grade teachers who participated

We are excited to share that we have kicked off of the AniMate Math Program, which stands for Animación Matemática. In English this means, making math livelier. That is exactly what AniMate is doing, as it works to make math more accessible, understandable, and fun for students and teachers alike. The program is a result of the success of our Partner School Program and is a way to continue to foster relationships with teachers. The AniMate Program offers teachers resources and techniques they can duplicate in their classrooms to make math more engaging for students.

Why focusing on math is important
Sitting down with Jorge Monge, coordinator of the AniMate program, he explains that teachers who were part of the Partner School Program stressed that they wanted more help with math teaching techniques. This desire stems from the lack of understanding of the National Math Curriculum called Guatemática, which was established by the Guatemala Ministry of Education in 2006. After the launch of this new curriculum, many teachers did not receive the proper training or guides to learn how to teach it. Last year, Common Hope, with the endorsement of the Ministry of Education, provided training to teachers on the curriculum.

AniMate is the next step, as teachers continue to be trained in ways to effectively and engagingly teach math to their students. Jorge explains that, “the biggest challenge in schools is that math is very hard to understand. The difficulty of math can lead to kids dropping out of school. If teachers have better lessons and materials, we can get more kids to enjoy math.” This year we are offering workshops for teachers from preschool through sixth grade.

“The biggest challenge in schools is that math is very hard to understand. The difficulty of math can lead to kids dropping out of school. If teachers have better lessons and materials, we can get more kids to enjoy math.”

All of the partner schools are invited to participate in the workshops, including San Miguel Escobar, Santa Catalina, Guardiania el Hato, San Rafael, and San Miguel Milpas Altas. In the workshops, teachers get the opportunity to learn different math topics, make materials, and borrow materials to use in their classrooms. The materials that can be borrowed include games, manipulatives, flash cards, and text books to consult about different activities. “It is harder to teach a teacher than to teach kids. If teachers can change the way they learn, they will improve the quality of their lessons they are teaching to their students. If they open up to better ways to learn, they will do better when they have to teach it,” said Jorge about the importance of the workshops.

Kicking things off
The workshops are being held at the Antigua site on Fridays, and we hosted the first one on February 10th for 1st through 3rd grade teachers. We anticipated 20 teachers would attend and in fact, 23 teachers from different schools participated! Renato Westby, Director of the Partner School Program said, “this training was offered as an extra-curricular activity which meant teachers volunteered their time. This is what made our attendance even more impressive.” On February 17th, the second workshop took place for 4th through 6th grade teachers.

The AniMate Program also has plans to explore working with students in the afternoons. The kids that are struggling in math or want to strengthen their math skills can come to the math center and use manipulatives, objects which are designed so that a student can perceive some mathematical concept by manipulating it. This is a great hands-on way for kids to learn. Jorge states that the ultimate goal for the center is, “to be a space where kids can see math as fun and useful for life,” and a library for math resources that teachers, students, parents, families and staff can all use.

Common Hope’s plan is to begin working with students in March from the Santa Catarina Partner School. Third-graders will be invited two afternoons a week to do math activities. As an organization, we are excited to see how AniMate will increase math efficiencies for students in our Partner Schools.


Jorge presenting a teaching technique
Jorge presenting a teaching technique
AniMate workshop session
AniMate workshop session
Teachers working with math manipulatives
Teachers working with math manipulatives
Jan 24, 2017

164 Students Walk the Path of a Thousand Dreams

Ready for the ceremony to begin!
Ready for the ceremony to begin!

Hola, Global Giving family!

In our last report, you heard from Executive Director, Shari Blindt, about our excitment for Common Hope's largest graduating class in 2016. I was fortunate enough to attend the celebration this year and would like to share the experience with all of you!

I was so thrilled and humbled to join this year’s graduation celebration in Guatemala along with 50 guests from the U.S. and one incredible family who made the long journey from the Netherlands. Three weeks have passed since then, but the excitement of that day is still with us and I feel it multiplying – like ripples in a pond getting bigger and bigger as they spread outward.

Graduation Day represents the culmination of our work as an organization. These students are 164 living, breathing testaments of Common Hope’s desired outcomes. For the students, graduation is the day they have worked towards for so many years. Their sacrifices, and their parents’ sacrifices, have all led them here – to The Pathway of Dreams, where their names are literally set in stone. I’ve walked down that pathway many times before, but never understood its paramount significance until I watched students excitedly find a brick with their name on it.

Throughout the day I was witness to so many joyous moments, starting with the graduation picnic. To see the sponsors celebrating this long-awaited occasion with their student and family was truly heartwarming, like a big family reunion. Big smiles and jubilant laughter came from all around as everyone shared stories, memories, and plans for the future.

During the graduation ceremony that afternoon, we heard from staff, students, parents, and a sponsor–each one representing a different branch of the Common Hope family tree. We listened as Maria addressed the crowd on behalf of her classmates saying, “Thank you for the support you have given us, which has allowed us to reach one of our goals. To our sponsors, we will always have you in our hearts.”

We listened as parents Maria and Rigo gave emotional testimonies, telling everyone in attendance that their support helped them through difficult times and that those gifts will last a lifetime. Jose, a father from San Rafael, traveled to Antigua that day to say thank you on behalf of his family and present a very special gift to everyone who is a part of Familias de Esperanza.

Over the course of that afternoon I saw students, parents, sponsors, and staff members in tears. I had tears of my own. In that moment, the impact of what graduation means for our students and their families becomes so real that it’s overwhelming. You start to understand how that diploma will affect their lives, their futures, the future of their families, and the future of their communities– a ripple effect on humanity.

That ripple starts with you, our supporters. The generosity you show Common Hope allows our staff to deliver life-changing programs to students and families, and together we walk hand-in-hand on the path to success. So on behalf of everyone in this Common Hope family, THANK YOU for all you do to make milestones like graduation possible.

I would like to leave you with a beautiful speech given to the students during the graduation ceremony by Flor, Common Hope’s Educational Support Programs Manager.

We’re coming to the end of the ceremony, and with that we are also concluding a journey that began with your affiliation, a path of a thousand dreams.

When you entered the Foundation [Common Hope], your parents brought you with the HOPE for a better future for each of you. Your sponsors decided to support you with the HOPE that education could transform lives. We, the staff at Common Hope accompanied you with the HOPE that you would achieve it. We saw you work hard, we saw you struggle, we saw you triumph, and at other times we saw you fall then get back up. We ALWAYS believed you could do it. 

Today, you will walk out these doors and carry with you not just HOPE, but also the preparation to face the world. Always hold HOPE in your hands like a light, and know that it’s made of love, of dedication, and the certainty that each of you us unique, important, and valuable. 

The doors of this house are always open to hear what you’re up to. It’s more than a brick with your name that you leave here; it’s a testimony that you can achieve what you dream. 

…and achieve, they will. 

Milton found his brick on the Pathway of Dreams
Milton found his brick on the Pathway of Dreams
Searching for their bricks on the Pathway
Searching for their bricks on the Pathway
We did it!
We did it!
Oct 28, 2016

Celebrating Our Largest Graduating Class

Marco playing his guitar
Marco playing his guitar

¡Bienvenida! Here at Common Hope we are preparing for the largest graduating class in our 30 year history—164 students have achieved their dream of a high school diploma! Their achievement is the culmination of many years of sacrifice by their parents, encouragement from their sponsors, and dedication to their dream of a high school degree.  

These graduates are entering the working world with a brighter future—made possible because of people like you who create opportunities for them in a place where there are few. They are grateful. And they are excited for their futures.  

Graduates like Marco.  

I met Marco and his family in San Miguel Milpas Altas a few weeks ago with members of our Board of Directors. Marco has big plans.  

Since he was a little boy he has been fascinated with machines and mechanical things. It was a natural choice to study to become a mechanic in high school, to follow his passion for making things work. “I’m someone who challenges myself a lot,” Marco shared, “I have many goals.” He’s achieved his first—graduating as a mechanic. He’s on to his next, as he would like to open a mechanic’s shop in his community. Mechanic services are expensive, and he sees that his
neighbors can’t always afford them. He intends to provide an affordable alternative. And he’s already planning beyond that, as he would then like to grow his business to serve other communities nearby.  

Marco also loves music and recently taught himself to play the guitar. He is grateful for his family, the opportunity he has had for his education, his sponsor, and his faith. He sang for us, and left us with no doubt he will continue to reach the goals he has set for himself.  

It was powerful listening to Marco. His words reminded all of us what it means to be part of this Common Hope family. It takes all of us to fulfill our mission of hope and opportunity, to make dreams like Marco’s a reality.  

Thank you for sharing our mission with your family and friends—whether it is through your own experiences here in Guatemala or through your financial gifts. We are grateful for each and every time you make a difference for those we serve.  

Thank you for making hope real every day for thousands of children like Marco.  


Shari Blindt
Executive Director

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