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Getting to Grips with Literacy in Guatemala
The Guatemala Literacy Project is a key Rotary
initiative, reaching out to clubs worldwide.John Stanton, International
and Foundation Chair with the Rotary Club of Kenilworth, explains why his club
in 1996, at the end of a long civil war, American brothers Jeff and Joe
Berninger set about trying to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala.
a grant from a former employer, they brought books with them, helped a school,
La Labor, to set up a system where students would rent books for a small fee
was the project’s very first revolving fund. Once enough money had accumulated,
the school could buy brand new textbooks with no further investment needed from
sponsors, making the programme 100% sustainable.
the brothers involved a Rotary club in Wyoming. Since then, the project and
Rotary have grown as a partnership to become the Guatemala Literacy Project.
1997, the Berningers set up the Cooperative for Education, a non-profit
organisation seeking financial support from corporations, foundations and
“Nearly 500 Rotary clubs in seven countries
have become involved,supporting over 170,000 studentsin its 21-year
also provides all administrative and marketing services to the Literacy Project
at no cost to Rotary funds.
now, thanks to a long-standing partnership with Rotary clubs, this sustainable
model for breaking the cycle of poverty through education has grown strongly.
the years, the textbook programme has branched out into computer centres, and a
culture of reading programmes, which have fostered improved literacy while
developing a love of reading.
support from many sources over the years, that single seed, the textbook
programme at La Labor, has grown substantially helping vital educational
programmes reach many thousands of Guatemalan children.
date, nearly 500 Rotary clubs and numerous districts in seven countries have
become involved in a project which is serving 48,000 students this year, and
has supported over 170,000 in its 21-year history.
Guatemala Literacy Project is the largest literacy and education global grant
was showcased as outstanding at the recent Atlanta Convention and serves as an
excellent example of the power of international Rotary.
Rotary clubs across the world have supported the project and provided textbooks
2016/17, 118 clubs from 25 districts in seven countries, combined with The
Rotary Foundation and District Designated Funds to raise $435,583 (£333,831) –
this was Rotary crowdfunding at its best!
the Rotary Club of Kenilworth, we first heard about the Guatemala Literacy
Project in 2014.
travelled to Guatemala to see it in action and was so impressed that I
persuaded my club to donate and then set about bringing this project to the attention
of other clubs.
than $51,000 (£39,100) was raised last year in the UK, including Rotary
Foundation support, and now a new global grant is under way with a target of
global grant closes at the end of December, hopefully for approval by May next
is a worthwhile project which has proved that it can dramatically change lives
forever, helping to reduce poverty, illiteracy and inequality.
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published in Rotary, the official magazine of Rotary in Great
Britain and Ireland. Find out more at www.rotarygbi.org
Find out more about the Guatemala Literacy Project
on their website: www.guatemalaliteracy.org
expressed in this Make-up Article do not necessarily represent the opinions of
Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff