Cooperative for Education

Registered charity
(+1) 513 661-7000

Since 1996, Cooperative for Education has been committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education. Our sustainable textbook, computer, reading, and youth development programs have transformed the lives of more than a quarter million students. We empower rural Guatemalan communities to transform their own quality of education, with a focus on evening the playing field for girls, who are typically excluded from education.

Girls, Boys, Youth
Education, Children at risk
Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, Quiché, Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, Sololá, Totonicapán

Organizational contacts & locations

Contacts
Joe Berninger
Executive Director
Rony Mejía
Director for Guatemala Operations
Jennifer Archila
Fundraising Team Chief of Staff

Mission, vision & values

Mission

We are dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education.

Vision

We believe that all humans are born with abundant potential—we are destined to become creators, healers, innovators, builders, educators. We yearn to leave the world better than we found it.

But a child born into the generational cycle of poverty is too often stripped of this destiny. We believe that every child, no matter where they were born or what their circumstance, deserves the opportunity to determine their own story.

That’s where education comes in. Education is about justice. Where poverty robs us of opportunities, education gives them back. Education levels the playing field. Education opens doors.

We have a vision of a Guatemala transformed through education: a future in which every Guatemalan child learns to read and graduates high school with the skills they need to thrive. Is this a tall order? Yes. But is it possible? Absolutely. Because we know that when young people are empowered with the opportunities to rise out of poverty, not only will they determine their own stories, they will shape the destiny of their country.

Values
We value a laser focus, deep development, community involvement, attacking the root cause, proven projects, and sustainability.

Products, services, and programs

Products

Books are provided to teachers as part of the Spark Reading Program.

Textbooks are rented to students as part of the Textbook Program. Rental fees are collected into a revolving fund which is used to replace the books as they wear out.

Computer equipment is rented to students as part of the Computer Centers program. Rental fees are collected into a revolving fund which is used to replace computer equipment as original equipment wears out or becomes obsolete.

Services

The Spark Reading Program trains primary-school teachers in effective reading instruction. Teachers receive two years of intensive training combined with individual support and instruction through in-class visits.

With the Textbook Program, teachers receive training on how to effectively use textbooks in their classrooms.

The Rise Youth Development program offers workshops on topics like entrepreneurship, financial education, self-esteem, human rights, leadership and teamwork. These workshops help students identify problems they may be seeing in their own communities—and learn to develop solutions.

Programs

The Spark Reading Program trains primary-school teachers in effective reading instruction and provides them with a library of books. Teachers receive two years of intensive training combined with individual support and instruction through in-class visits. They also receive 60 to 144 high-quality children’s books (depending on grade level and class size), which enable them to read with their students every day.

The Textbook Program is a low-cost, sustainable solution for giving students access to textbooks. Every program participant “rents” a set of books in core subjects like math, science, Spanish language, and social studies for a small monthly fee. These fees are collected into a revolving fund which is used to replace the books as they wear out.

The Computer Centers Program establishes Computer Centers in middle schools, providing young people with access to state-of-the-art technology. Each school community partners with CoEd to renovate or prepare a classroom to be a fully functioning Computer Center. A typical Computer Center houses 12-20 current-model PCs or 30-45 current-model laptops.

The Rise Youth Development Program identifies promising students who would otherwise be forced to drop out of school, and gives them the tools to break the cycle of poverty. In addition to providing full academic scholarships, Rise offers comprehensive support services and engages students in workshops and community service.

Organizational detail

Founded: 
1996
Number of employees: 
50+
Funding: 
Private donations, Corporate donations, Government funded, Private grants, Fundraising
Primary issue(s) / need(s) addressed

We help students in rural Guatemala break the cycle of poverty through education by focusing on three primary competencies: reading, technology skills, and graduation.

Guatemala’s Western Highlands exhibit one of the most extreme combinations of systemic poverty, illiteracy, and inequality in the hemisphere. Today, indigenous Mayans in this region experience poverty, malnutrition, poor health outcomes, high rates of illiteracy, and low levels of educational attainment. Compounding the problem, the majority of Maya do not have access to affordable, quality education. Teachers in rural schools often don’t have access to the formal training and resources—like books and computers—they need to facilitate learning. As a result, educational attainment is low, and illiteracy and dropout rates are high. This puts young people at a disadvantage to secure higher-paying jobs. And the cycle of poverty continues.

By increasing the quality of education—and guiding teachers in the best ways to continue reaching their students with education during pandemic-related school closures—our programs give kids a reason to stay in school. With CoEd books, computers, and teacher training, students gain critical-thinking and 21st-century skills that will lead to better jobs after graduation. And for the most at-risk kids, our Rise Youth Development Program provides the financial support to keep them on the path to becoming future leaders.

Impact, adaptations & objectives

Impact to date

As of 2022, Cooperative for Education’s programs have reached more than 261,000 students in rural Guatemala. Every day, 22,500 students at 197 schools are studying with CoEd textbooks and 13,500 students are learning in 55 CoEd centers.

CoEd has trained & certified over 1,100 teachers in our Spark Reading methodology. Even if we stopped today, these 1,100 teachers will educate over 2 million kids over the course of their career.

Additionally, the Rise Youth Development program has supported over 1,300 students since its inception.

Impact measuring

We measure our impact by looking at student grades, enrollment, graduation and employment rates, program and training participation rates, reading assessment results, computer literacy test results, and by conducting surveys of students, teachers and school administrators.

Organizational adaptations: 
Key offerings, Location, Funding model
Organizational adaptation details

Key Offerings

CoEd began in 1996 by offering one program, our Textbook program. We now have four programs, Textbooks, Computers, the Spark Reading Program, and the Rise Youth Development Program.

Location

Our focus has always been in the Western and Central highlands in Guatemala because these areas typically have high levels of poverty and low levels of literacy. Over time we have expanded to serve communities in additional departments within that region.

Funding Model

Over time we’ve diversified our funding sources. In the early years a large percentage of yearly funding came from foundations, now we have a healthy mix of foundation and individual donor support.

Short term objectives

Growth

Each year we plan to train 300 elementary teachers, provide textbooks to about 260 students, open one computer lab, and increase the number of student scholarships. This sustainable growth allows us to expand our programs into new communities.

Quality

We will strengthen our tools, methodology, and approaches by doing extensive research and ensuring that programs meet the needs of the communities.

Impact

Students in our primary classrooms will demonstrate progress in their reading ability over the course of the school year. Teachers report that the introduction of textbooks made their efforts to implement blended education (partly in-class, partly take-home) for their students more effective. Students will achieve basic computer competency. The high-school graduation rate for Rise Scholars over the last five years averages at least 75% despite COVID’s impact.

Long term objectives

Growth

We focus on creating deep change at the individual and community level, and with this approach we will help millions of individuals over time. Helping one individual break the cycle of poverty or training a teacher will impact generations to come.

Quality

We will strengthen our tools, methodology, and approaches by doing extensive research and ensuring that programs meet the needs of the communities.

Impact

Helping students achieve specific skills that put them on the pathway out of poverty. Give students the tools to completely break out of poverty, creating deep, multigenerational change.