Posted on Jul 25, 2017
In each of the last 2 years our club has supported school projects in Guatemala.  This year, in collaboration with Minneapolis City of Lakes and the Saint Cloud Granite Club, and last year in collaboration with Minneapolis City of Lakes and Buffalo, we have helped to provide essential educational materials to public schools in the Antigua area which are supported by Common Hope.  This year we provided books for a reading program and last year we provided materials for a math curriculum for elementary age students. 
Common Hope is a Saint Paul based non-profit organization which has worked in the Antigua area of Guatemala for 30 years.  The mission of Common Hope is to move children and families out of poverty through education, and to this end, provides many support services out of it’s campus on the outskirts of Antigua.  These services include teacher enhancement and classroom management skills, medical and dental services for associated families, social service support, housing (home construction) for families who qualify and put in adequate sweat equity, shoes and uniforms for students in need and school materials including backpacks, writing materials and paper, rulers and calculators.  Common Hope has dramatically increased the graduation rate of students from the supported schools and has been able to support selected high school graduates with university scholarships. 
This year Rotary funds have been used to purchase reading books which are distributed to 56 teachers in 4 public schools affiliated with Common Hope. These teachers serve 1436 students in grades pre-K through 6.  Each teacher participates in 5 workshops which give them strategies to create a literate rich classroom environment and implement effective 30-minute daily reading activities.  “Traveling Suitcases” are utilized to rotate the books amongst the classrooms on a monthly basis, the book content geared to the current national curriculum and utilizing both fiction and nonfiction writing.  Distribution of the books is coordinated through the library at Common Hope. 
This is a very important project because reading literacy is essential to success in education and full participation in society.  Besides the benefit to students, parents involved in the early childhood reading stimulation program, many of whom have been illiterate, begin to develop reading literacy. Funded through Rotary’s Small International Grants program, each club’s contribution of $1000 to each project was leveraged to a total of $12000 for each project, allowing the purchase of the educational materials and demonstrating the power of Rotarians working together to make significant differences in lives around the world.  In addition, 4 local Rotarians, Dan Steil, Gary Strandemo, Bill Maney and Lori Kloos participated in the distribution of the educational materials in Guatemala. 
More of the excellent work of Common Hope can be seen at their website .
Rotarians and family members at the house they constructed in Guatemala.