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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Newton San Juan Del Sur Sister City Project Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, International, Job Training, Promotion of International Understanding, Secondary & High Schools, Vocational & Technical Schools

Mission: Our mission is to empower the 18,000 far-flung low-income people of San Juan del Sur, to develop through education and improve their health. Current programs include providing biosand filters and eco-stoves in the rural areas, and funding and overseeing the free High School for Adults/ Technical Institute.

Results: By the end of 2017 the Free High School had graduated 1100 people. It enrolls over 500 people every year, the most-underprivileged in the region. Over 700 biosand filters have been given out. The latest appropriate technology is eco-stoves that emit less smoke, saving the lungs of women who cook and other family members. We have 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 2018, over 600 people enrolled in our three high-school programs

Geographic areas served: The 250-square mile area of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

Programs: Supplies and services exclusively for charitable activities for the relief of poverty and ignorance in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, primarily through our middle schools, high school, and Technical Institute, and through programs of appropriate technology working with villagers.

Community Stories

48 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

The Free High School has been tranforming women's lives in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua in a way so clear and dramatic that I feel every penny I can send to support the school is touching a life in a positive way. Graduations have been celebrations in many ways: daughters are given hope and confidence seeing their mothers affirm the need and right to literacy; sons gain greater respect for themselves, seeing that the family status changes in the community. This is a wonderful program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to the Newton San Juan del Sur Sister City Project through my work with another non-profit, Random Acts. Together we have managed to fund the construction of a beautiful campus for the Free High School, and earlier this year I was lucky enough to be able to visit Nicaragua and see the school first hand.

The impact of this school and the Sister City Project's other initiatives cannot be underestimated. During my trip, I talked to countless people whose lives had been changed by the Free High School, from middle schoolers taking their first ever English lesson, to graduates who've returned to the school as teachers, to proud parents who've seen their children's futures transformed.

We also went out to the villages surrounding San Juan, where the Sister City Project works closely with the community to improve sanitation and access to education. Our group dug wells, built latrines and made bricks to create eco-friendly stoves, and I chatted to local women who told me just how much these projects mean to them. In fact, this was something of a recurring theme - wherever I went in San Juan, whoever I spoke to, they always knew the Free High School and had nothing but wonderful things to say about it.

I've never been a part of something that does so much good so directly, and with so much respect for the local community. Every moment I spent at the Free High School and in the villages was an absolute privilege and I hope to return to volunteer for a longer period some day. Thank you :)

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the most incredible, transformative experience in San Juan del Sur this past January thanks to the Free High School for Adults and the Newton San Juan del Sur Sister City Project. It is remarkable in its ability to transform the lives of community members in regards to education. It is the most impactful and efficient nonprofit that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

I interviewed numerous students who go to the Free High School. It serves some of the most hardworking, dedicated, and driven people that I have ever met in my life. Each story that I heard was characterized by perseverance and determination. Some people were unable to complete their education as a young person because of work, the birth of their children, or even the inability to purchase school supplies. They truly value their education. The students at the FHS have an intense desire to learn and grow as people: parents, employees, etc. Attendance is purely self-motivated, which makes for a serious learning environment. FHS graduates are leaders in their communities with very respectable jobs. They are confident, humble, and they take pride in their education and their standing as FHS alumni.

1 David

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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."

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Advisor

Rating: 5

"The Free High School is a model for the nation.” Vice-Minister of Education, Marlon Siu.

“The Free High School is changing the culture of the region.” –former Vice-mayor of San Juan

I co-founded the Free High School in 2002, and, as a volunteer, I raise funds for it every year. I think it is the most important institution in San Juan del Sur for empowering women and men for life. Every year we change the lives of 650-700 students who could not continue their education otherwise.

The Free High School has been independently reviewed and found to be the best of its kind.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have visited the high school for adults, a Newton Sister City Project as well as other projects in San Juan. The sister city has helped citizens of San Juan for years to get education for people who are otherwise unable to go to school because they are working or because the women have children, to get clean water and get stoves with chimneys that alleviate the lung diseases caused by the interior cooking fires. Every project in which I have participated used used the small amount of money it had wisely, primarily for supplies and salaries for the San Juan teachers and other workers. Wherever I went in San Juan with any of the Sister City Project workers we were greeted with enthusaism and gratitude even from students who had attended the school years ago. This is a project that deserves all the support it can get because the returns in terms of betterment of people's lives are so great and obvious. This organization has had a life changing impact on people who, for instance, got jobs they would not otherwise have been able to get because the free high school for adults offered them an opportunity Nicaragua denied them.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Free High School offers a second chance to people who were cut out of the school system for various reasons. Girls who became mothers before they finished school , boys who did not finish by seventeen would never have had a chance at an educaton without the Free high School and that's what gives this school its aura of heroisim and achievement and promise for the future where old and young will assist each other and the distinctions will be less important. The graduates go on to more productive lives than they had hoped for and that is what makes supporting this endeavor so particularly satisfying.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The staff, vision, coordination, and impact of programming allow this organization to deeply affect the lives of many. I believe this organization is helping to create a better world.

Paula18

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm an educator, and I love schools. A good school is at the heart of a community. The Free High School, by providing education and services (for 550 people!) is doing something not just for the students, but for the communities they are a part of. San Juan Del Sur is fortunate to have partners here who understand (1) the importance of a good education and (b) that we owe something to the people of Nicaragua.This project makes a difference.

1 Lydia S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Judy N.

Donor

Rating: 4

I love the Free High school for Adults because it provides an opportunity for adults who live far away in the country and/or work during the week to get a real education. As a supporter, I have heard the personal stories of people who have attended the high school and it has made an incredible difference in their lives. Some have been able to get new kinds of jobs, some have gone on to university and some have improved their skills, such as math skills, so they are able to work more effectively. It does such a good job of providing education for its students that officials have said it is a model of what schools should be.

The other aspect of the high school that I like is that the students are required to teach others, so that education spreads even beyond the students who are enrolled in the school.

Finally, I am happy to support the high school because all the fund-raising and administrative work is done for free so support for the school actually pays for teachers and supplies.

Donor

Rating: 5

I live in Newton, Massachusetts and have been impressed by the commitment of the high school students and citizens of Newton in their passion for San Juan del Sur high school. And I I learn more about the Free High School for Adults, I am inspired by how much the students value their education and how much it takes for them to achieve something that we take for granted. As a former teacher of middle school, I believe that education is the answer. Congratulations to all.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My visits to the Fee High School for Adults in San Juan del Sur have been marked with admiration and awe for both the students who arrive in large numbers to attend the classes and the project directors who have conceived and sustained such an amazing institution.
The classrooms were so full that folks were hanging out of doors, taking notes in their tattered notebooks.
The women spoke of their hopes for a different future because of the education they were receiving today.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It has 356 graduates and 550 students a year.
San Juan couldn't do without it.

Gosh, we could use something like it here too!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What could be more exciting than to learn that a new school for adult education has enrolled 550 students per year, and that it already has 356 high school graduates. Clearly underdeveloped countries are eager to gain educational opportunities which they cannot afford without outside help, and Newton San Juan Del has served a remarkable purpose.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a very important school, which benefits from an international community of support linking people in San Juan with those in Newton MA who care about education, and specifically women's education. I have watched its growth for several years with great admiration!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

stephendedalus

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For 20 years, the Newton Massachusetts - San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua Sister City Project has made a dramatic difference in the lives of literally thousands of residents of this city on Nicaragua's Pacific coast. Today the Project has deep relationships with actors throughout the community, and dozens of local and international volunteers, in the fields of childhood and Adult Education -- including the indispensible Free High School -- and Appropriate Technologies, including drinking water systems, kitchen-smoke evacuation, and sanitation. The collaboration is two-way, with many San Juanenos visiting their northern sister city. The Sister City project is a model of international cooperation, and deserves the support needed to sustain and grow its activities.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer at the school and am staying for 10 months here in San Juan Del Sur. This organization is doing great work! The motivation of the people working here is amazing. But I believe it's not just the teachers and volunteers that make this project so successful. The real power comes from the people that take the classes. They really WANT to attend the classes and study and improve their standard of living. I've witnessed several times that a student goes up to the teacher and asks for extra classes. Many times this can't be done because the students don't have any extra free time in their schedule or live too far from town. To attend the Saturday school, some students get up at 4 am to take the bus!

They have my utmost respect and I'm proud to be helping here!

Pieter Timmermans

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been a resident of San Juan del Sur for several years and have seen how effectively the Adult High School has educated hundreds of people every year.
This program offers educational programs out in the rural areas as well as in town. Young women who are restricted from continuing their education in the regular public schools due to pregnancy can continue their education at the Adult Free HIgh School.
Also, people who work during the weekday can attend programs in construction, agriculture and tourism on the weekends. There is no other school like this in the area and it serves people of all ages who seek to improve their lives.
The longstanding partnership between a small town in southern Nicaragua and a town in Northeastern United States has developed and fostered the Free High School. This is a very compelling example of how communities very far apart geographically can work together!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a volunteer advisor on the Free High School for adults. I have had an opportunity to meet the director and to read the reports of the work that is done there. It is the most exciting education project I have ever been involved with. The director and Margaret Gullette do a terrific job of keeping us informed. I plan to go to San Joan del Sur to visit in the near future. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer, both here in the US and in San Juan del Sur. Also, the project makes such good use of the funds we raise that I am always happy to contribute.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Es muy lindo ver el entusiasmo y el motivo de los estudiantes y los profesores. Gracias a Rosa Elena, Margareth y Patricia que han dado vida a este proyecto y mucho mas en San Juan del Sur!!! Es muy importante de tener personas como ellas que tienen tanta energia para ayudar a otra gente que necesita salud y educacion!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The FHS is an organization with incredibly passionate workers. It is filled with people who sacrifice a lot to do their best and to help poor, difficult to reach communities who would otherwise have no access to secondary education. There has been an impact already from the FHS's presence, and this should continue to grow as the rural communities that it operates in become more and more educated and (hopefully) more wealthy as the people shape how they want to direct their own economic future. They operate efficiently and effectively and also happen to be incredibly nice, wonderful, inspiring people.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

El instituto Libre para Adultos Margareth Morganroth Gullette, es una institucion que ha venido a solucionar grandes limitaciones educativas que existian en nuestro municipio , madres y padres de familia ,obreros , campesinos que no tenian la oportunidad de accesar a un sistema educativa en una modalidad especial , gratuito . materiales libres y disponibles para cada asignatura , maestros con una gran calidad humana .
Ahora estudiar ya no es una dificultad , si no una desicion individual de interes particular y el instituto libre para adultos , no es solamente para adultos sino para todos aquellos que quieren un futuro mejor para sus vidas y la de nuestro municipio , sin importar su edad o condicion de vida.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

El instituto libre para adultos tiene sus orígenes en la alfabetización entre mujeres, en 1998, 240 mujeres organizadas en núcleos rurales y urbanos decidieron romper las cadenas y vencer la oscurana a la que fueron sometidas por muchos años, ellas muy decididas aprendieron a leer y escribir y alcanzar su primaria, luego demandaron mas educación y se apertura el instituto para educación secundaria y técnica beneficiando a 550 estudiantes. El instituto tiene un gran impacto social en el municipio, ha contribuido a mejorar el nivel de vida de las familias, a erradicar el analfabetismo y a dar capacidades para sentar las bases para el despegue de un desarrollo económico.

Review from Guidestar

Nica

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am working actually with the Technicals Institute in San Juan del Sur, I am a teacher for the Construction students,I want to say that i fell very proud to share my knowlodge with very interesting and hopefull peoples whoes don`t matter their bad economical situationr to continue student and progress.
This Project is very important for the Education and the economy in San Juan del Sur. Thank you very much to the Doners, and the Directions to made true the dreams of a lot peoples here. and to continue working for this town.
Muchas Gracias...

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have watched the Free High School develop over a number of years and how it has survived through the determination of the community and the support of the Newton/San Juan Sister City Project.
it has now become a model for other communities in Nicaragua that have been inspired by their continued efforts and successes. The impact on the lives of those who have an opportunity to attend extend through generations, providing hope and opportunity. Please support their efforts.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Newton Project aims to improve the lives of the citizens of its sister city, San Juan del Sur, and does so in such significant ways. The Free High School allows those otherwise unable or incapable of attending school the chance of a FREE education -- how great is that? It fulfills a basic, necessary need so that graduates can go on to improve their lives. The project is also building schools in remote communities, to further ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great institution, extremely important for poor Sanjuanenos.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered in the Instituto Libre for an afternoon, and I was so impressed with the motivation of bpoth the students and the staff. This place is really filling a need.

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

Great organization, serving women and communities in the south west corner of Nicaragua. Every non-profit should be so effective.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Newton San Juan del Sur Sister City's Free High School has it right:
Give the struggling poor educational tools and watch them soar.
A well thought out and well managed program. Educating these adults has positive repercussions for the students, their families, their communities and for the small country of Nicaragua where in the past dictators kept the people ignorant and in poverty by denying them the opportunity to become literate.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Free High School for Adults provided me with a unique opportunity to contribute to the education of a population of San Juan del Sur residents who would not have had educational opportunities otherwise. Women with children and students over eighteen aren't eligible for public education, and the Free High School was developed to change a harsh reality for many who still wanted to learn.

My experience working with those students was very powerful. Many had professional goals and personal goals that motivated them to travel, weekend after weekend, to our classrooms to practice English and other subjects.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a long-time resident and ESL t eaching volunteer in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, I am keenly aware of the great contribution that the Free School makes year after year to this struggling community. This year I was able to offer some assistance to some of the volunteer teachers in the way of ESL materials.

Review from Guidestar

Brady f.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a teacher at the Free High School in 2010. Along with two other teachers, I taught English to a large class of enthusiastic students. I also provided tutoring in the evenings to smaller groups. During my time in San Juan del Sur, I found that the Free High School inspired passion among teachers and students alike. The school serves a very important purpose in the town by providing an alternative means of education and excels at this cause because of the obvious passion of those who participate.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have worked with the Newton Sister City Project since 1998. I have watched the Free School for Adults grow and change. Two of the people who work for me have graduated from this school and have gone on to University where they are getting a good education which will help them get better jobs in the future. One of the other people working for me in San Juan del Sur is attending the school now and intends to go on to University when he graduates. Without the existence of this Free School for Adults the three people in my employee would never have had the opportunity to earn a high school diploma. Going to the graduation ceremony of the Free High School is an amazing experience. You see parents and their children or siblings graduating at the same time and you see a respect for learners of all ages. This is one of the finest projects in which I have been involved. It brings a sense of worth and self esteem to the students and the realization that they do have the opportunity for a better life. The fact that they also have to help others as part of their curriculum is also important to the sense of community. This is the BEST project. Thank you, Kathy Knight

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked as a volunteer for Newton San Juan Del Sur in several ways, including teaching in the Free High School. This school is making a big difference in the lives of adults who haven't had the resources to continue their education, especially to learn English. It was heartening to see the increase in self-confidence and outreach that resulted from these classes. The Newton project is well run and is greatly respected by the local people.

Review from Guidestar

Margaret Gullette

Donor

Rating: 5

Since 1997 I have worked with my Nicaraguan counterpart, Dr. Rosa Elena Bello, first to improve adult literacy and then to start and maintain a Free High School for Adults. It has had an illustrious history since it opened in 2002. It is open to all the people the other high schools exclude, so it reaches the most disadvantaged and gives them an opportunity they would never have had. In 2006 they opened a Technical High School too, which gives a high-level technical certificate.

Its first graduating class had only 11 people, but now each year we matriculate over 550 people and we graduate about 60, for a total of 346 over the years. Many have gone on to university, to real careers, to positions in local government.

Review from Guidestar