Planting Seeds is a non-profit organization that seeks to eradicate the barriers that contribute to poverty by working with communities to provide high-quality comprehensive education for children and families throughout Guatemala. We are changing the story for some of Guatemala's most vulnerable populations through our early childhood education and community development programs. Our holistic approach fosters the successful development of historically marginalized communities and gives them the necessary tools, skills and social capital required to begin breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle. We first began our work in 2001 as an early childhood education program. In most rura... read more Planting Seeds is a non-profit organization that seeks to eradicate the barriers that contribute to poverty by working with communities to provide high-quality comprehensive education for children and families throughout Guatemala. We are changing the story for some of Guatemala's most vulnerable populations through our early childhood education and community development programs. Our holistic approach fosters the successful development of historically marginalized communities and gives them the necessary tools, skills and social capital required to begin breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle. We first began our work in 2001 as an early childhood education program. In most rural communities in Guatemala, people often lack access to essential social services, including access to high-quality early childhood education. Planting Seeds' preschools in the indigenous, agricultural communities of Sacala Los Lomas, San Antonio de Tioxya, San Lucas Sacatepequez, and San Pedro Yepocapa provide children with access to a well-rounded, holistic education where they have a chance to develop their innate skills and abilities and to be in charge of their own learning. Our programs are highly valued in these communities as they have helped foster an understanding of the importance of education for boys and girls alike, which we see as a needed process to reduce gender disparity in education in the long-run. Our preschools have also provided children in the community with a strong foundation to be successful in their academic and vocational pursuits. Our unique teaching methodology is child-centered and activity-based. We base our approach on building strong relationships, nurturing different intelligence types, encouraging creativity to be a self-expression method, learning through play and cultivating a love for life-long learning. Public schools in vulnerable communities in Guatemala are not equipped with the tools needed to upward socioeconomic mobility for the populations they serve. Guatemalan public schools' teaching methodology focuses on rote memorization and lacks the human resources to support parents in developing the skills to support their children's education. Our approach is unique because we work hand-in-hand with children and families, focusing on giving parents the training they need to be successful mentors for their children. Our goal is to ensure that all children in remote rural communities and areas facing extreme poverty have access to quality early childhood education to succeed later on in primary school. We also work to increase the supply of qualified teachers. Since 2001, we have trained 152 teachers in our teaching methodology. We also organize annual conferences and workshops that have benefited a total of 625 teachers in the region. In 2017, we registered Planting Seeds International as a non-profit organization in the USA. Since then, we extended our reach beyond early childhood education to offer youth and family-centered educational programming in Zone 3 in Guatemala City. In this zone, there is one of the largest garbage repositories in Central America and most families of the community earn their income by collecting and reselling recyclables. Being a zone of extreme poverty, with few opportunities for economic development and one of the highest violence rates in the country, we clearly see the need to promote through our programs a culture of peace and non-violence and offer opportunities for professional and personal development. Our community programming in this zone offers a safe, nonviolent, inclusive, and effective learning environment for children and families. Our approach to community development is unparalleled because of our focus on nurturing care. We have nine active groups: Fathers nurturing, Motivated Women, GoGirls, Youth Leadership, Ballet, Breakdance, English, AfterSchool and a library. Through our programs, we aim to empower women, nourish better family relations, ensure that children and youth have after school academic support and access to extracurricular opportunities to develop important socio-emotional skills and develop their talents and passions. We encourage community members' active participation, and we train community facilitators to be in charge of these activities. Our programs have substantially increased the number of youth and adults with relevant skills and opportunities for professional development and employment. In 2022, we will inaugurate the Planting Seeds Community Center in Zone 3 with the central purpose of providing community members with a safe environment for learning that is always available and generate professional development opportunities for local youth. The Planting Seeds approach to development is unique in that the organization involves children, families, and communities with the aim of equipping them with the tools and resources necessary to take charge of their own development. We believe that education, first and foremost, starts in the home and that working with parents, families, and communities is essential in reinforcing the importance of education.
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