Addressing the primary barrier to literacy – lack of access to books – Reading Village began in 2007 by bringing donations of books to low-resource communities. Interested in expanding and deepening our impact, we focused on programs that leverage youth leadership, education and literacy to impact a larger population in a significant way.
Working closely with Mayan youth in our partner communities, we developed a program model that has impacted not only the lives of participating students themselves, but their families, and entire communities as well, empowering them to break the cycle of generational poverty.
What started with six youth leaders reading to a couple hundred children ultimately grew to serve over 150 teens and alumni, more than 12,000 children, and five incredible communities. Even more meaningful than these numbers however, is the systemic and self-perpetuating change that was set into motion.
Children who completed our program have higher than average reading comprehension scores (26% above the national average!), and have developed critical and creative thinking skills not generally taught in Guatemalan schools. And now, after 12 years, children from the program have taken on community improvement projects, graduated high school and joined their fellow Reading Village alumni in competing for jobs that can double their family incomes.
We’re proud to report that nearly half of our alumni continued their studies at university. Many of those participants who have started families have created a new paradigm in their communities, nurturing a culture of literacy and education where none existed previously.