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Villa Soleada Bilingual School

VILLA SOLEADA BILINGUAL SCHOOL

Ending the cycle of generational poverty in Honduras through education

 

Honduras has a staggering poverty rate (66%) and is currently the most
unequal country in Latin America. Crime and violence remain rampant, as
Honduras continues to have one of the highest homicide rates in the world. 37%
of Honduran children of secondary school age (12-16) are out of school. Of the
poorest quintile, 62% are out of school. (EPDC, 2014)

 

 

The Poorest Community in El Progreso

Daniela R. was born into one of El Progreso’s largest riverbed shanty slums. Her
house was made out of mud and cardboard. Families, including her’s, battled
with generational poverty. Running water, adequate housing, and electricity
were nonexistent. Gang violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, chronic
unemployment, and malnutrition were rampant. Local authorities described the
community as “the hardest slum in the city.”

A household survey revealed that 0% of the residents had graduated from high
school. No one from Daniela’s community had graduated.

 

 

The Project

Since 2005, our team has been testing a simple question: could an entire
community in Honduras lift itself out of generational poverty if not just one but
all its challenges were addressed comprehensively?

In 2007, the village council decided to relocate their community. Our
organization bought a large plot of land in northern El Progreso. Funds were
raised for construction supplies. Following the lead of community members, we
organized, created a plan, and began building. Over two years, 13 acres of
wilderness turned into a village.

In 2009, the families moved into the newly built village. Numerous community
members, like Daniela’s mother, spent years working under the sun to help build
the village from the ground up. For the first time, they had access to adequate
housing, a water well, electricity, land titles, and sewage system.

 

Aerial shot of Villa Soleada Bilingual School

 Yet many challenges still remained: generational poverty, illiteracy, chronic
unemployment, drug abuse, violent crime, and malnutrition. In 2012, the families
asked our organization to build the one key thing missing in their community: a
school.

A dream emerged. It was so profound yet so simple: one day, every child from
the community would be a high school and college graduate.

Later that year, we opened the doors to the Villa Soleada Bilingual School.

Every day we are getting one step closer to achieving that dream. Inspired by
their vision, our team has been striving to achieve a 100% graduation rate in the
community. We believe that our students can become self-sufficient, productive
adults who will make a positive impact in Honduras.

 

Daniela, like so many of her classmates, show up to class each day with great
enthusiasm. In 2017, she was invited to participate in the city-wide spelling bee
championship—an event normally reserved for the wealthy elite. She was up for
the challenge and studied one thousand English words. Her hard work paid off.

She won the competition and became the 6th grade spelling bee champion of El
Progreso—a city of more than 200,000 residents.

 

 

In February 2018, Daniela and 275 classmates (as of 2018) celebrated the
groundbreaking ceremony of the high school building, set to open in 2021.

She is on track to graduate from our high school in 2023.

Her class will be the first graduates from our high school in 2023. They will be
fluent English speakers and college bound– in a part of Honduras where the
college graduation rate is 0%.

 

Ground breaking day of the high school

 

Results

We will have updated results and data in February 2019.

 

 

Bilingual

It is not uncommon for jobs that require English fluency to pay 200% to 300%
more than those that do not. However, only 2% of the wealthiest students in
Honduras get to attend a private bilingual school. As a result, very few people
speak English in Honduras. There is a large gap in the labor market that our
graduates can capitalize on.

Our promise is that 100% of our students will be fluent in English when they
graduate. Our team of American and Honduran teachers are hard at work to
fulfill our promise. Our Honduran staff focus on Social Studies and Spanish. Our
American teachers receive intensive summer training upon arrival and teach a
curriculum based on an immersive experience in English. In addition, students
have access to to hundreds of books, the largest library in the area, and a
computer lab.

 

 

Closing the Achievement Gap

Most schools in Honduras hold classes for just 5 hours per day. Our school
strives to allow students to spend more time at school. Our students have a
much longer school day.

Class: 7:30am to 2:30pm

Extracurricular Activities: 2:30pm to 3:30pm (soccer, tutoring, science
experiments, etc.)

In order to address the “summer gap” challenge, we hold numerous weeks of
summer enrichment classes. We also hold many weeks of summer reinforcement
classes. Our extended school hours and school year allow students to reverse
the effects that poverty has on their academic achievement.

We allow students to enroll at our school at age 3. By focusing on early
childhood education, we set up our students for long-term success.

 

 

Sustainable

Students from Villa Soleada attend the school on a full scholarship. To maximize
community buy-in, their parents volunteer at the school to help clean
and maintain the grounds. Students from wealthier neighborhoods pay $40/month in
tuition. We hope to reach financial self-sufficiency by 2021 through the tuition
that we collect.

We are expanding the school by one grade each year. Eventually, our school will
be serving 350 students from grades K-12.

 

The Reinada family, like other families in Villa Soleada, participate in sweat equity where Miss Reinada volunteers her time in cleaning the school.

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