Tree 4 Hope is committed to providing a bright future of long-term hope for children, elders, and their families in Guatemala and around the world through educational, health, and mental wellness outreach programs.
Our mission is to provide hope to our community through education and health.
Our vision is to transform communities through education and opportunities.
We sell T-shirts, hats, and other similar products. All of the proceeds from these products go to support our work.
We offer volunteer trips to the Hogar Miguel Magone orphanage that provides relief to care givers and staff, offers help with other work projects that are on site, and provides education, ESL classes, and medical services to the children living there
Tree 4 Hope runs Hope Academy which is the first and only fully bilingual STEAM school for girls in Guatemala, through an integrative education in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Hope Academy seeks to prepare girls with the skills they need to step out boldly into their futures, equipped to transform their communities for the better.
This school is for girls who would otherwise not have a chance to pursue an education due to poverty and is completely donor funded and free for the girls to attend.
Our organization primarily targets girls' education for children who otherwise would not have an opportunity to receive quality schooling. In our early days as an organization, we worked with an orphanage and neighboring village, whom we still maintain a strong relationship with. We began talking with the orphanage about what we could start doing to create real community change for them and for the village. They told us that the most dire need they had was education for girls as many girls in their area begin school late, do not attend frequently, drop out early, and are unable to find meaningful work to support their families.
Much research has shown the profound benefit of girls' education on the broader community - countries that invest in educating women see large increases in their economy as a result of their workforce literally doubling and being flooded with new ideas and opinions. Poverty decreases drastically as a result of many families with working wives receiving double the income of a family with only one working parent. At the same time, female focused health education equips young women to better plan their families, have access to birth control, and decide when and if they would like to have children. Two resources we recommend to those interested in understanding the impact of educating women are "The Moment of Lift" by Melinda Gates and "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power" by Jimmy Carter.
Currently, we provide education to 60 girls from an orphanage, Hogar Miguel Magone, and a nearby village, Aguacate, located in Mixco through our school, Hope Academy. We also regularly provide food assistance to the orphanage and village, running a program to provide fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat every day to about 120 kids.
Every year we provide vaccines to the children from both the village and the orphanage as well. Tree 4 Hope also supports the work of Tita Everetz, who runs 5 schools in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Guatemala City through her organization, Fundacion Vidas Plenas, Sharing the Dream, an organization operating an elder center for indigenous women in Santiago Atitlan, and Iglesia Luterana Augustiniana de Guatemala, a branch of the Lutheran Church who also runs a women's empowerment center and supports indigenous communities in northern Guatemala.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Tree 4 Hope is also providing emergency food relief for about 500 people in the village of Aguacate who have been unable to leave their homes and work due to the government lockdown.
With regard to education, we run student evaluations at the beginning and end of each school year to make sure our kids are progressing. We also provide tutoring for girls beyond the age limit of our school, and measure their progress through the report cards provided by public schools
Size and/or structure
Tree 4 Hope started as a very small organization out of our church, Tree of Life Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, PA, USA. We offered a mission trip once a year to provide aid to Hogar Miguel orphanage starting in the early 2000s. Up until two years ago, we were completely volunteer driven. With the opening of our school, Hope Academy, two years ago, we have since hired seven teachers and a director in country to help run our programming.
Initially, our programs in Guatemala focused on providing food and medicine for kids in Hogar Miguel and Aguatcate, later we added on partnerships with Vidas Plenas, Sharing the Dream, and Iglesia Luterana. Our latest offering is our school, Hope Academy, which opened two years ago.
Mission, vision and/or values
Our mission and vision have simply gone deeper the longer we have worked in Guatemala. We decided very early on we didn't want to be an organization that just put "bandaids on bullet holes" so to speak - we wanted to work on deep change. Over the years, our vision shifted from simply providing food/medicine/aid to our friends at Hogar Miguel to building systems to help break the whole community out of the cycle of poverty. Most of this work is through education at our school, Hope Academy. We also provide college scholarships to young adults from the village of Aguacate who have completed diversificado and are interested in higher education. As a result of our scholarship program, the first child ever from Aguacate graduated college last year. We currently have 4 other students attending university and plan on helping as many as we can achieve their educational dreams.
As we have grown over the past few years, our fundraising model has changed to keep up with our expanding work. Everything we do is donor funded, but a few years back we switched over to an online fundraising platform to allow us to reach a broader group of people, set up easy reoccurring donation options, and run campaigns geared toward specific needs.
COVID-19 has really impacted our ability to grow at the moment due to the fact that schools have been shut down in Guatemala since March. If schools are allowed to reopen in January, we hope to add another grade level to our program, expand our tutoring options for older girls, and build a sports court, security wall, and well at our school to better serve our students' educational, safety, and hygiene needs. We are also hoping to be able to raise enough money to hire at least a part time nurse/health educator for our school.
Every year we seek to better our teaching model to provide our kids with the best possible education. We are the only bilingual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) school for girls in Guatemala. This educational model is very new in Guatemala and in our next 1 to 2 years, we hope to provide our teachers with the training needed to execute this model in the classroom to the highest level. Currently, since none of our girls have access to internet or much of any technology at home, we have continued to provide educational packets and study materials to them. If it becomes apparent that we will need to continue distance learning into the new school year, we will be putting a lot of energy into improving and refining our distance learning materials
Assuming COVID-19 continues over the next few months and into 2021, our primary impact goal is to keep the village of Aguacate fed and cared for while providing the children there with ongoing education.
Long term, we plan on taking Hope Academy through diversificados and be able to provide education from kinder through graduation as well as college scholarships to interested students. We are planning the construction of the second floor of our school, which will allow girls who come from more difficult home situations (which, sadly, is quite common among the populations we work with) to board at our school Sunday night through Thursday night every week. Within the next few years, we would like to open Hope Academy up to girls from different demographics and communities around Guatemala. Our ideal goal is to have 1/3 of our students from the village of Aguacate (who are on full scholarships provided by our donors), 1/3 of our students from the orphanage (also on full scholarships) and 1/3 of our students from the community, who would pay tuition to help support the long term stability of the school.
We really see value in investing in our teachers. Over the next few years, we will be providing and requiring ongoing professional development for our staff to keep them sharp and constantly growing in their trade. As an immersive bilingual school, we also are requiring all of our teachers to be functionally fluent in both English and Spanish within five years of their start date. We want our teachers to be as exciting about their ongoing development as our students and believe that by investing in their continued education, it will greatly raise the quality of education we are able to offer.
Long term, we dream of breaking communities like Aguacate out of the cycle of poverty that has persisted there for generations. Through education, we believe we can empower a new, strong, motivated generation of women to take their skills and talents and put them to work transforming their communities and creating sustainable, environmentally friendly solutions to make the world a better place to live for those who suffer and struggle the most.