Newton San Juan Del Sur Sister City Project Inc

Rating: 4.93 stars   46 reviews

Issues: Education, Job Training, International

Location: Rodney Barker 49 Wooodcliff Road 02461 Margaret M. Gullette 68 Pembroke Street 02458 Newton MA 02458 USA

Mission: Our mission is to empower the 18,000 far-flung people of San Juan to develop their education and skills and improve their health. Current programs include maintaining school buildings, providing biosand filters and eco-stoves in the rural areas, and overseeing the free High School for Adults/ Technical Institute.
Results: By the end of this year the Free High School will have graduated 616 people. It enrolls about 700 every year, the most-underprivileged in the region. Over 700 biosand filters have been given out. We built or renovated 17 schools, including new pre-schools in rural villages.
Target demographics: Under-served low-income women and men who have been excluded from regular high schools
Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2013, 681 people enrolled in our three high-school programs
Geographic areas served: The 250-square mile area of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua
2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I've been volunteering with the Newton Sister City Project for years. This group is doing cutting edge work in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, in both education and health. The Free High School for Adults is a one-of-its-kind treasure, offering high quality secondary education to those not welcome in the public high school--pregnant women or mothers, married people, anybody over 18. Newton's work in "Appropriate Technology for Public Health"--BioSand Filters to purify water in the home, EcoStoves for smoke-free cooking, Composting Toilets, etc--reaches high standards and have produced valuable innovations. Dozens of volunteers work for the Sister City Project during the year, and give rave reviews. So do I.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

The Free High School serves a pressing need in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua--a huge number of people (over 18, or pregnant or with kids, or who have had to work) are simple not allowed to attend the "public" high school. The FHS is a lifesaver for them. They get to complete a secondary education, either in their villages, or by coming into town once a week and studying all day in the Sabatino or Saturday School. And because they follow the national curriculum, their degree has the same value as a public school diploma. It's been wildly successful, so much so that they're bursting at the seams, with enrollments rising steadily year after year. People know a good thing when they see it. Until the government Does The Right Thing and starts to fund secondary educations for EVERYBODY who needs it, we all need to support the FHS, which has been called "a model for the rest of the country."

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Imagine a huge population--over 18, or pregnant, or married, or with kids, or need to work during the week--who simply aren't permitted to attend the public high school. Then along comes a FREE High School for ADULTS and before you know it the new school has more students (and higher morale) that the public school. This is incredibly cool, and a real tribute to the founders, the teachers who give their time and skills, and the students who simply love their school! I've been there, I've seen the energy in the classrooms. It's truly inspiring.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

learning about how successful they were after graduation and what a difference it has made in their lives to be able to complete high school after waiting for so long.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make it a model of adult education for all of Nicaragua.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

My husband and I are living in Nicaragua, and are witnesses to the amazing effects that the Newton San Juan del Sur Sister Project has on this part of the world. We volunteered on a project in which they created a school for a community that otherwise had no schoolhouse to teach their young children. Now, the kids have a place to learn! That schoolhouse has real value, and has had a profound impact on their lives.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

The Sister City Project is an inspiration. It is helping the community of San Juan in the most powerful way possible -- by educating its people. Once armed with an education, graduates of the Free High School are able to find new or better jobs, pass on their learnings to their families, and enrich their lives. The change is real, and it's pretty wonderful to witness.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

witnessing students and graduates proudly relay that they were attending school, and striving to better their lives.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

expand! But I recognize that expansion requires financing, and hopefully they'll continue to be supported by generous contributors.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 4 stars  

Through this nonprofit, I was able to travel to Nicaragua four times between the ages of 16 and 20. Our group participated in a variety of projects including building a preschool, building eco-friendly stoves and water filtration systems, digging wells, and delivering school supplies. I feel so lucky to have gained so many wonderful experiences early on in my life through this amazing nonprofit.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2006

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

The Free High School for Adults in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is my favorite non-profit. I don’t know of a more effective project to provide educational opportunity anywhere.

The Free High School for Adults is a non-profit that creates the opportunity for adults to get a high school education. Adults in Nicaragua, anyone over the age of 18, have no possibility to attend high school without this project. Many of these people had to leave school and go to work to support their families at the age of 14 or 15. They are still working, but on Saturdays from 7:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon they can attend this intensive high school program and get a real education. For this opportunity, many people get up before 5:00 a.m. and travel by foot, bicycle and bus to reach the high school. All the money for this program comes from donations to the project and all the fund-raising is done by volunteers. Each student in the program commits to helping at least one other person improve their skills. The Minister of Education has proclaimed this a “model program for the nation”, but the government provides no funding for the program.

The number of students completing high school through this program has grown from 12 in its first year to 63 in December of 2012, with a total of 482 graduates plus 60 in the Technical Program. Some of the students have gone on to university on scholarships. Others have found new, better-paying jobs based on their new skills and some have begun their own businesses.

That’s why the Free High School for Adults in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is my favorite non-profit.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

There is no way to quantify the good that the Newson San Juan del Sur Sister City Project has done over the course of nearly 25 years. Many volunteers and organizations come and go, but this charity has remained dedicated for the long haul. As a result at least 20 schools have been built and maintained, hundreds of water filters have been distributed throughout rural communities, and families have received EcoStoves to prevent respiratory diseases. The Free High School for Adults has provided a top notch government recognized education to hundreds of teens and adults who have no choice but to work during the week and receive their secondary education on Saturdays.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

learning firsthand from Nicaraguan campesinos about the challenges and struggles they face, working alongside locals to solve their community's problems using low cost and low-tech solutions, sharing deep conversations and brainstorming sessions with Nicaraguans and Americans in both countries, making life-long friendships.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

seek ways for more supporters to join our cause, because even though the charity is based in Newton, the projects have expanded and warrant volunteers and assistance from anyone and everyone interested in promoting literacy, public health, and sustainable development.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I have just started my volunteer job here, at the Free High School, as a teacher of computer science. I teach two groups of young adults who have taken the opportunity to improve their well-being through attending the program in hospitality and tourism that the School offers. This is only my second week on the job, and my initial impressions are very positive. The school staff is helpful and the computer laboratory is well organized and maintained. My students are very enthusiastic learnes. Many travel from other towns and villages in order to attend the classes. They have also expressed interest in learning English, and I now teach English to them as well. From my personal experience and observing some other programs and initiatives, I believe this school makes a real difference in lives of many people around here, and I´m happy to be able to contribute some of my time and effort to this good cause.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I'm too new here to speak about results, but there is no doubt that education is the right way to help countires like Nicaragua help themselves.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The computer lab could certainly benefit from a few hardware upgrades and a faster Internet connection.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

As an officer of the Sister City program in Quezalguaque, I have worked with various programs with San Juan. We have exchanged trainning in library, housing, stove building, and education. The free High School, with its 550 students returning to education stands out for its effectiveness and community support.

San Juan del Sur may not be the poorest community in Nicaragua but that does not make the poverty of the poor there any less burdensome than elsewhere. The Free High School gives these people the opportunity to work they own way to a better life for themselves, their families, and their community

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Libraries, housing, health, and youth activities.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

not presume, they are doing very well.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

The Sabatino, or Free Saturday High School, is HOPE for hundreds of people from in and around San Juan del Sur. My role as a volunteer has been to provide needed supplies for students and to assist with teaching English classes. I have also chaperoned high school students from Newton , MA as they were teaching and volunteering in the community there.
Over the past ten years, my volunteer work with the Newton San Juan del Sur Sister City Project has included making and installing ecofogones, smokeless ovens, building and installing water filters, building and repairing local schools, a start-up girls' softball team, and work with other organizations like VOSH-Volunteer Optomitrists Serving Humanity.
I have learned that what we bring in our suitcases does make a difference. Mine have been packed with everything from roof caulking to Motrin to baseball gloves and school uniforms.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

amazing ways.....seeing folks graduate from high school who would never have had the chance. Seeing smoke rising from an outside vent pipe instead of filling a kitchen with smoke and causing lung disease in women. Seeing a kid smile when I throw him his own new white shiny baseball. Putting shoes on kids' feet. Providing new mothers with a bag of clothing for their babies.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

do nothing. It is fantastic!

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

The Free High School is amazing! Every Saturday it is PACKED with students, who come from far and wide and spend the entire day in school. Some students sit in chairs out in the hallway, looking into the class through the windows because the classes are so full. It is truly inspirational to see how dedicated these hardworking people are to getting an education. The endeavor would not be possible without the help of volunteers and donors, both from Nicaragua and around the world.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've been inspired by this organization for years as I've seen friends and acquaintances graduate from the Free High School, giving them more opportunities in life, and showing their children the value of an education.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The Free High School is overcrowded and in demand! It has started building a new campus but this is only in the beginning stages. It needs a lot more money and help to create a true campus, rather than borrowing a children's elementary school every Saturday.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Find funding to hire a volunteer coordinator

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Inspiration, meeting new friends, learning ABOUT Nicaragua FROM Nicaraguans, hearing people's true individual stories, providing an opportunity for American and Nicaraguan students to meet, ask each other questions, practice language skills, and form bonds.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Inspired!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

The Free High School for Adults has become an essential part of San Juan del Sur educating and empowering its students. The school provides its students with opportunities otherwise unavailable to them without continuing education. Through education, not only are the individual students empowered, but spirits and attitudes change that affect the entire community. Some students wake up at 3 and 4 in the morning to attend and battle through horrible weather conditions to get to school! The Free High School has had an incredible number of graduates and an impact on even more people. San Juan couldn't do without it.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing the results of the graduates by seeking formally unattainable jobs and stressing the importance of education with their children.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Expansion to other rural areas of the country or improved possibilities for transportation.

 
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Review from Guidestar