Empowering Guatemalan Youth to Promote Literacy

by Reading Village
Youth Leader Leading Literacy Activities
Youth Leader Leading Literacy Activities

Dear World Changer,

This past year has been an exciting time of growth for Reading Village. We’ve worked with more than 50 youth leaders across several rural communities in Guatemala and together they’ve reached thousands of young children with innovative literacy programs. As the Guatemalan school year gets underway in January, we’re eager to reach even more youth. Here’s how you can help:

Join Our Two Million Two Many Campaign this December

Across Guatemala there are two million youth who can’t afford to be in school. That’s two million youth without basic skills to compete in the workforce; two million youth limited to a lifetime of hard physical labor; two million youth stuck in a cycle of perpetual poverty. We believe that is two million too many.

This holiday season give the gift of literacy and education. Join our Two Million Too Many matching campaign to ensure that 68 indigenous teenagers and the 3,400 children they read to have the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. Thanks to the generosity and support of Susan and Richard Anderson, 100% of all contributions this December will be matched dollar for dollar (up to a total of $25,000). Every single donation will prepare youth to defy these odds.

Mark your calendars to give between December 1-31, 2015 to qualify for a 100% match.

Join Us on a Learning Journey to Guatemala next April

For eight days you can join a small group of mindful travelers to visit the communities where we work, meet our youth leaders and their families, and witness the transformation in rural Guatemalan towns.

We cannot thank you enough for your commitment to this work. You stand among a thoughtful group of individuals from around the world who are passionate about ending poverty through literacy and education. We’re so glad to have you join us on this journey.  


Linda Smith, Founder & Executive Director

Learning Journey Participant in Guatemalan
Learning Journey Participant in Guatemalan
The Cycle of Literacy
The Cycle of Literacy

Reading Village has been partnering with the community of Concepcion now for almost 7 years. This means that children who were read to by our youth reading promoters back in 2009 are now old enough to be reading promoters themselves! We are excited about this new phase of our development where our youth leaders will begin the program with a strong love of reading and be better readers, already familiar with what reading activities look like.

Julio was one of the original 6 youth leaders in our program in Concepcion in 2009. His younger brother Byron is now participating in the selection process to enter the program in 2016. When asked why he wanted to join the program, Byron said, “My older brother Julio brought books home to read to me, and I would ask him to read to me all the time. The reading promoters in my classrooms made reading fun. I want to make reading fun for the younger children and help them have better vocabularies.” Byron has grasped the fundamental core of our work. A love of reading leads to reading more - reading more leads to reading better - reading better leads to liking it more and reading more. And up goes the virtuous cycle of transforming lives through literacy.

We are in the process of selecting 15 more youth leaders to add to our program in 2016, for a total of 65. Each one of those 68 teens will read to 50 children; that’s 3,250 children getting the best preparation they can for a better life - regular read aloud sessions. Thank you for making this possible.


Learning Journey 2015
Learning Journey 2015

Dear Changemaker,

I'm excited to report that last month a group of eleven intrepid individuals traveled down to Guatemala on our annual Learning Journey. The trip went off without a hitch and this small group of passionate travelers now understands, better than ever before, the impact of our work in these rural communities.

Traveling from across the United States and as far away as Japan, these individuals all have their own story and each of them took a unique interest in our work. They are teachers and literacy specialists, accountants, researchers, students, and parents. Together they spent seven days traveling alongside our board members and staff to witness the impact of our work in Guatemala. They read books, took boat rides, made tortillas, and enjoyed winding walks high in the hill communities where we work.

Our blog is now filled with stories from their travels. Head over and take a look and consider joining our 2016 Learning Journey yourself - we'd love to have you!

Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7

Thanks for following along on this journey! Our work wouldn't be possible without your support and we'd love for you to see it first hand someday. You're always invited!


Linda Smith, Executive Director of Reading Village


In a circle of our youth leaders, one in particular stands out. He’s got deep dark eyes, a clean pressed shirt, and a contagious smile. He’s also ten years and two feet shorter than most of the others.
Juanito is the younger brother of two of our program participants but for the past two years he’s all but joined the group. He is fourth in a line of brothers with progressively more opportunity as they embrace their educations: a mechanic, a university student, and a soon to be graduate. And then there is Juanito. The young boy has benefited immensely from the education of his older brothers. They brought home books to read to him, they took him to the neighborhood library that they themselves opened, and they showed him, by way of example, the doors that would be opened if he could do what 90% of his peers would not – finish high school.
Just eight years old, Juanito is still several years away from achieving that dream but he’s not wasting any time. Today, he walks confidently into youth leadership meetings and takes a chair in the circle. The teens offer him a turn answering questions and participating in conversation. He brings his friends to the library, reads to them, and shows them how to pick out books.
While he dreams of being a reading promoter like his older brothers, we are thrilled to witness that he already is. Juanito is a perfect example of the ways in which literacy and education can unlock the potential of children living in poverty. “I’ve learned from Juanito the true happiness that literacy and leadership can bring,” said one of our youth leaders. “I’m so glad he’s with us.”

Thank you for making this happiness happen. Thank you for transforming lives through literacy.

Signature - Linda Smith
Linda Smith
Founder & Executive Director, Reading Village

Linda Smith (Founder) with Current Scholars
Linda Smith (Founder) with Current Scholars

This month has been so humbling. In the past 30 days hundreds of individuals from around the world have stepped up to raise more than $26,000. But the clock is still ticking, there are still lives to change and students to send to school. 
Before the clock runs out on 2014, please join our 30x30 campaign and help us close the gap on raising $30,000 in 30 days so that all of our scholars can start school next week. Your invesment will directly transform the lives of our 53 scholars and the 3,500 young children they reach with literacy activities. But don't take our word for it. Here's what our scholars and their families ahve to say about the impact of your investment:

  • "This year there was a drought. The corn flowered early and then died. For us this is a disaster. I think many families will stop paying for school becasue they must feed their families. Or they will go into debt." - Parent of a Reading Village Scholar
  • "Thank you to you all for the scholarship you have given me. My parents don't have a job with a steady salary so that they can pay for my registration or buy my school supplies. We work in the fields. But through Reading Village I am so grateful that you all have always supported me in being able to continue in school and to dream of my future." - Santiago, Reading Village Scholar
  • "Lots of families don't think girls should be educated. Parents don't think it's a good investment of money. So a girl who wants to continue her education has to find a way. And this can create conflict with parents when a girl decides she has a dream that they do not understand or support." - Ana, Reading Village Scholar

Thank you for your support this past year. We're so grateful that you've helped us raise more than $26,000 in the month of December alone and hope you'll step up to close the gap on our goal to raise $30,000 in 30 days. We could not do this good work without you. Happy holidays to you and yours from everyone at Reading Village.



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Organization Information

Reading Village

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.readingvillage.org
Project Leader:
Linda Smith
Boulder, CO United States
$244,211 raised of $350,000 goal
1,540 donations
$105,789 to go
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