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Our Programs

PRIMARY SCHOOL PROGRAMS

 This multi-faceted program supports every child at various levels. The child is supported through home visits, medical care and tutoring and access to computers and fun activities at the EI center. 

HOME VISITS PROGRAM

 In the home visits program we try to give parents the tools to eliminate education related problems. Every child in the community is assigned to an EI staff member who guides the parents and child. 

EDUCATIONAL AND ACTIVITY STUDY CENTER

 This center, started by EI, provides a much-needed place in the community for students to interact outside school. It has computers and Internet, printer, scanner, a children’s library, and reference books. 

PHOTOGRAPHY CLUB

 EI photography program helps kids develop their talent through regular photography sessions, provision of high quality cameras and access to exhibitions and professional classes. 

TEEN PROGRAM

 The teen program focus is on the holistic development of our teenage students so they develop into successful adults. We use an intensive, hands-on approach. 

UNIVERSITY PROGRAM

 Students studying towards higher education receive resources such computer and Internet access, space to study, career counseling, emotional counseling, medical care, stipends, and homework assistance. 

Primary School Programs

 

THE PROBLEM

These children come from very poor families, where on an average an adult has third grade education. Parents do not always understand the importance of building a good foundation for their children and thus not all children are enrolled into kindergarten. Besides, they do not receive stimulation and encouragement in their homes.

 

So, when they enter first grade, these children are already at a disadvantage, compared to the other children. Also the public schools they go to are often poorly managed, with high student to teacher ratio.

THE PROGRAM

 

EI’s unique, intensive, hands-on program focuses on the community as a whole while also giving individualized attention to each child and family.

 

The program is multi-faceted, supporting the child at various levels. The child and family is supported at home through the home visit program, the child receives tutoring support, access to computers and activities and fun at the EI center and medical care.

HOW IT WORKS

Each child is assigned a field staff; who visits their homes and has a close relationship with the individual child and their families and constantly encourages and mentors them (see home visit program).  The staff also works closely with the school and the tutors from the tutoring program.

 

All the children who need extra help receive tutoring support in math and Spanish along with homework support at the EI center. The tutors are secondary school students from the program who volunteer their time.

 

At the EI center, the children have access to books, toys and educational games and a safe place to play. Regular piñata parties and small field trips are also part of the program. This way a close web of support systems is built around the child to prevent them from falling through the cracks.

Home Visits Program

 

THE PROBLEM

The community where we work is very poor and most parents are either illiterate or have a low level of education.  Thus, most parents do not understand the long term benefits of education and are unable to provide the support their children need to stay in school. 

 

Very often, due to financial difficulties, parents encourage their children to drop out of school and start working.

THE PROGRAM

The home visit program focuses on mentoring parents to value education. We try to give parents the tools to eliminate problems in the home that act as barriers to education.

 

Every child in the community is assigned to an E.I. staff member, who visits their home regularly and cultivates a trusting relationship with the child’s parents. By building trust and mutual respect, E.I. staff gradually change family members’ attitudes toward education.

HOW IT WORKS

Parents are encouraged to be more involved in their child’s education by participating in parent teacher meetings, helping with homework, providing verbally encouragement, and reducing the child’s work or home responsibilities. 

 

Also, parents and children are coached to communicate with one another more positively and to treat each other with respect and love. Parents often need to be encouraged to show more affection and to avoid bad language and corporal punishment. 

 

E.I. staff work to ensure that parents feel emotionally supported, which in turn enables them to ask for help when needed.  Our model of continuous support leads to lasting positive change within the families and children we serve.

Educational and Activity Study Center

 

THE PROBLEM

The community where we work is very poor and most parents are either illiterate or have a low level of education.  Thus, most parents do not understand the long term benefits of education and are unable to provide the support their children need to stay in school. 

 

Very often, due to financial difficulties, parents encourage their children to drop out of school and start working.

THE PROGRAM

Empowerment International Educational and Activity Center is located on the outskirts of villa Esperanza, a community just outside

 

the colonial city of Granada. The center is strategically located so that children from the community can easily access the facility.  The center is equipped with computers and Internet, a printer, a scanner, a children’s library, and reference books. The EI office is located within the center.

 

The children, particularly those in secondary school, come in to the center regularly to do Internet research for school, improve their computer skills, and hang out with their friends. The center provides a needed place to interact outside of school, as no common space exists in the community. At the center friendships are formed and students encourage each other to stay in school.

HOW IT WORKS

Monday through Thursday, the center houses EI’s tutoring program helping 80 children Grades 1-4. The children have access to the library and, as part of their tutoring, read books in small groups. Tutors, all of whom are secondary students from the community, read to the younger children.

 

Most of the children come in before or stay after the tutoring sessions to play at the center. For most this is the only safe place to play with educational toys. They learn to interact, resolve conflicts and share. The center is place where kids can be kids.

 

The center, open until 8pm each night, is a safe haven for community members of all ages.  Mothers in the community often come in the evening to learn computer skills and use the Internet. The center also hosts weekly activities, parents’ meetings, teen meetings and individual counseling and coaching sessions.

Teen Program

 

THE PROGRAM

The program focus is the holistic development of the teen into a successful adult using an intensive, hands-on approach. Each teen, and his/her family, will receive emotional, social and academic support on a continuous basis.

 

The teens are given program ownership opportunities and leadership roles, with coaching available as needed.

THE PROBLEM

Due to generational poverty and low education, most teens are viewed as adults and, thus, are expected to contribute to household income. 

 

It is also common for girls to start having children in their teens. Teens continuing on to secondary school are often the first in their families to do so and must contend with cultural and familial expectations that encourage students to leave school once they attain literacy.

 

School expenses like fees, uniforms and supplies are expensive. Since families are typically large, parents often cannot afford school costs for all of their children. Typically they send their children to school until they can read and write and then remove them.

 

Teens are generally unaware of the different career options available in Nicaragua.  They do not understand the benefits associated with different careers or how to comport themselves in a professional environment, both of which can severely limit their career potential.

HOW IT WORKS

Our program provides school supplies and fees for teens, thus removing the basic material barrier to education.

 

Each teen in secondary school is regularly visited in their home, in order to build trust and confidence between E.I. staff and family members. The home visit program focuses on mentoring parents to value education. We try to give parents and teens the tools to eliminate problems in the home that act as barriers to education. Group sessions, classes, and counseling are offered to help teen program members make better choices about sex, drugs and alcohol, and gangs.

 

Secondary school and university students are introduced to various job opportunities available in Nicaragua.  Local business owners and successful professionals are regularly invited to talk with teens about their jobs. The goal of this initiative is to enable secondary school students to make informed career choices and to understand the technical and vocational training required in each field.

 

Secondary school students tutor primary school children on a volunteer basis. This program started in 2009 on a small scale.  Two years later, we have 30 secondary school students tutoring 80 children K-Grade 4 each day. This program has boosted both the performance of the younger children and the self-esteem of the teens.  This is one example of EI enabling community members to build their own future.

 

University Program

THE PROBLEM

For most students in the community that Empowerment International serves, university education is not possible due to economic and academic limitations. 

 

The University Program gives students from the EI’s teen program an opportunity to further their education through both financial and academic assistance.

THE PROGRAM

Students are given access to resources to succeed in higher education.  These resources include stipends, computer and Internet access, space to study, career counseling, emotional counseling, medical care and homework assistance.  In addition, EI offers students co-scholarships, in conjunction with partnering universities.

HOW IT WORKS

Once a student decides to attend university, he/she works with an EI staffer to select a university and a career path, based on his/her personal interests and the availability of related jobs in Nicaragua.   Once accepted, the student begins an internship with Empowerment International. 

 

As an intern, the student gains professional skills, earns an adequate stipend and gives back to the community.  While in university, students become role models in the community, particularly to the children who study at the Empowerment Center.

THE IMPACT

At the conclusion of the University Program, students have a solid career path with viable job prospects, a university degree, work experience at the Empowerment Center, and self-esteem born out of being a role model in the community.

 

Efforts like EI’s University Program promote Nicaragua’s overall efforts to builds a more productive and educated workforce.  Already outside companies like the USA’s Sitel, which has 2000 Nicaraguan employees, are bringing in jobs.  A more educated workforce will help attract additional outside industries.

 

Further, a more educated population leads to lowering the birth rates, important to eradicating poverty.  According to the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (April 2011) “Higher levels of education, particularly among girls, had a strong correlation to declining fertility and better development outcomes…”

 

Photography Club

THE PROGRAM

EI’s photography program began in 2007 when Kathy Adams and a guest instructor hosted a 5 week-long photography class for 8 of EI’s older students.  Since that time, the program has been expanding. 

 

In 2008 14 children were selected to participate in the class, which took place in July. Several of these students have continued to participate in weekly classes since that time.  Many other students have shown an interest in taking part in the class.

 

The benefits of the photography program have been great.  The staff have witnessed participants’ attitudes change. Many attend school more regularly and have gained the self confidence that so many of EI’s students lack.