In August, we announced our decision not to exhibit at the 2021 Specialty Coffee Expo in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. This decision provided us the opportunity to find another way to connect with the international coffee community, and we shared our intention to donate a portion of our Expo budget to select non-profit organizations working in the coffee sector which impact coffee producers, their families, and their communities. Following a period of research and deliberation about which non-profit organizations align most closely with our purpose as a company, we’re proud to announce that we have selected three organizations which are having significant impact in coffee producing communities around the world. We’re thrilled to share these organizations with you, including the work that they’re accomplishing already, continuing with our second organization: Project Alianza.
About Project Alianza
Project Alianza is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to close the educational gap between children living in rural coffee producing communities and their urban-born counterparts in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Education inequality contributes to many issues in rural communities, exacerbating gender inequality, perpetuating poverty, and forcing families to migrate for a chance at new opportunities. Project Alianza aims to build strong communities and support local economies by not just providing materials and resources, but through their commitment to develop sustainable systems that empower rural communities to take control of their education. Their community-driven approach brings together coffee producers, local communities, and governmental bodies in order to create or rehabilitate public schools.
Project Alianza’s work is child-centric, aiming first to remove barriers to quality education. This begins with providing safe learning environments, and extends to ensuring that schooling is concentrated during the “dormant” period of the coffee season, providing the best opportunity for students to attend. Beyond primary and secondary education, Project Alianza’s work also supports the women in these communities who face the difficulties of gender inequality through their pledge to empower women. Their pledge includes several goals, including providing safe and equitable learning environments for girls, intentionally creating economic opportunities for women, and lifting up women as community leaders of the present and future.
By working to increase access to safe learning environments, ensure the quality of education provided, and mentor children through the difficulties of education, Project Alianza has provided education to more than 13,000 children since 2016.
What Work is Project Alianza Doing Today?
Project Alianza’s flagship program is referred to as Programa de Aliados Comunitarios (PAC), or the Community Allies Program. The goals of the program are to create opportunities for children to succeed in early years of their schooling, to overcome obstacles to secondary school completion, and allow rural women to gain on-the-job training and career development. The PAC literacy enrichment programs are based on internationally tested and recognized programs implemented by Pratham worldwide.
In 2022, PAC will be implemented in 40+ communities across Matagalpa, Jinotega, and La Dalia regions of Nicaragua with the intention to:
- Employ, empower, and retain women to take leadership roles in communities
- Improve learning outcomes for students who lack critical literacy skills, focusing on the number of students who go from nonreaders to readers, and students who go from emergent readers to advanced readers
- Nurture values and practices around gender equity, environmental conservation, and hygiene habits
Image courtesy of Project Alianza
We’re proud to know that our donation will help support Project Alianza to purchase literacy materials and supplies for the PAC and administer two training sessions for community educators, helping Project Alianza to reach more than 4,000 students across approximately 40 Nicaraguan coffee growing communities.
Project Alianza also provides a scholarship program in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador, distributing cash stipends and ongoing mentorship to girls in secondary school and their families. Most families’ primary income comes through coffee harvesting, and the stipends help families to overcome financial barriers to education by offsetting the cost of lost wages that would have been earned by the student. Beyond financial barriers, 9/10 of Project Alianza’s mentorship program students are the first in their families to attend secondary school, making the mentorship provided by local women educators critical to the success of students and their families as they navigate the challenges of secondary education.