Our Programs

Safe Passage's holistic learning approach provides a pathway out of poverty through education

More than 60,000 people live in extreme poverty in the Guatemala City garbage dump community.

Measuring more than 40 acres, the Guatemala City dump is one of the largest open-air landfills in Central America.

1 out of every 3 residents in this community have never been to school. Most adults have only a fourth grade education. The average family of six lives on just $4 per day—less than a dollar a day per person. With limited opportunities and training, many adults struggle to make a living in the dump community.

Guatemalan public schools provide only 4 hours of education each day, and many of those hours are spent in rote memorization. Strikes, weather, and other disruptions cause up to 30 cancelled school days per year. Even the most motivated students have a hard time staying engaged and enrolled. This is why, in 2012 Safe Passage decided to operate an independent, full-day school that is accredited by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education.

Beth Price - volunteer tutoring

Our Holistic Approach

In 2012, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education welcomed our proposal to operate an independent, accredited full-day school.

Today, over 500 students, ranging in age from 3 to 21 years, are enrolled at Safe Passage. Nearly 70 parents and grandparents participate in adult education.

We’ve come a long way from our early days when Hanley began teaching eager children in the small church across from the garbage dump.

We support our students, both young and old, through a variety of programs:
  • Students age 3 through grade 9 benefit from full-day education programs in our fully accredited school.
  • For our youngest learners, we help develop pre-math and reading skills through play and collaboration.
  • Grades 2 to 9 receive hands-on, activity-based lessons utilizing a teaching methodology based on Expeditionary Learning.
  • Public school students receive 4 hours of after-school enrichment programs at Safe Passage.
  • Extra-curricular activities include sports, English lessons, computer lab, Creative Expression, health education, and Next Step graduate career counseling.

Our students and families are particularly vulnerable to a variety of health complications that threaten their wellbeing. In partnership with Shared Beat, Safe Passage provides students and families with year-round access to an on-site infirmary. Our Health and Nutrition program emphasizes patient education and comprehensive care. We strive to not only treat but to prevent health complaints.

For Safe Passage students, access to education continues well after high school graduation. Next Steps provides graduates with professional development opportunities and access to tools for securing employment and applying to university.

Students of all ages demonstrate their innate intelligence in so many different ways. We create and preserve learning environments that respond to the needs of every student. Safe Passage meets the needs of the whole person.

Join our Community

When you make a donation, join a Support Team, sponsor a child, organize an event or volunteer in Guatemala, you help a top rated school empower people and change lives in one of the poorest places on earth.


Join our Recurring Giving Program

Join our recurring giving program and help us maintain consistent support for our students.

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Your gift gives hope, education, and opportunity to our students and their families

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Join a Support Team in Guatemala

Spend one week of service learning at our program in Guatemala

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Contribute your time and experience in our U.S. office or program site in Guatemala

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Contact Us

We invite you to reach out to our U.S. office in New Gloucester, Maine and our program site in Guatemala City


49 Farm View Dr
Raymond Hall, Suite 302
New Gloucester, ME 04260

9am - 5pm (EST)

TEL (207) 846-1188
FAX (207) 926-8244



6a. Avenida 11-95 Zona 7
Colonia Landivar, Ciudad de Guatemala

8am - 5pm (GMT)

TEL (502) 2440-4388