When 34 of Guatemala City's most at-risk children marched down the aisle to receive their Escuelita graduation certificates last week, it was different than prior years when we've celebrated academic success. This year, these 34 smiling faces will not face long walks to over 30 different public schools, nor will they be saddled with mountains of rote and repetitive homework that we help them finish. In 2013, these bright young people who've faced every disadvantage one can imagine will be the first first grade classes to graduate from Safe Passage as their primary school.

What? You might say. You see, in the past we had to send all of our Early Childhood Education graduates to public schools that face overwhelming problems like gang infiltration, lack of supplies, untrained teachers, bullying and more. By registering our first grade as an official Guatemalan school, we can better fulfill the mission of education that Hanley Denning created for these children by providing them with high quality schooling  not just for half the day as educational reinforcement, but teach them at Safe Passage all day long! We know that this will make a lasting positive impact on these children who, rather than having to struggle with two very different educational methodologies, will now be united by the Planting Seeds methodology used at Safe Passage that emphasizes learning through play, caring, and cooperation. 

This is a big step, but it's one that our board of directors and administrators have studied very carefully and we know both empirically and  in our hearts that expanding Safe Passage's registered school up through first grade in 2013 will help these 34 bright young people become successful leaders in their community and in Guatemala. Registering our first grade will not require new facilities nor will it produce any significant change in our budget- indeed it may help strengthen our program and these young people by lessening the strain on our social workers who make weekly personal visits to the over 30 public schools that Safe Passage students attend.

The ongoing gifts of supporters like you have cemented the building blocks for this big step and we cannot thank you enough for your continuous generosity towards Safe Passage. You make opportunities like these available to the children and families living around the Guatemala City garbage dump and we thank you for your help. Sincerely,

Richard Schmaltz

Safe Passage Executive Director