Five years ago, disappointed with the work being done by two Peruvian charities that I was supporting, I founded the Alma Children’s Education Foundation with the intent on improving the lives of children in remote indigenous communities in Peru. I hoped that a few key principles that made intuitive sense to me would make for effective programs that would also resonate with my friends and associates here in Canada. My expectations were modest and my plan quite simple. Five years later Alma has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.
From a standing start and a business model of being open to any ideas that came from communities themselves that met our criteria Alma has successfully completed 21 projects and is currently managing 22. Our core principles of micro-philanthropy, grass roots origination, low overhead, and the instillation of good social and environmental values continue to guide every project.
2015 was our most successful year to date. We ran a total of 16 projects, the most we have ever managed in a given year. Perhaps most exciting of all our homework clubs evolved from being a place where kids could get after school tutoring on any/all subjects to a place where reading comprehension, mathematical reasoning and critical thinking are being taught in a truly creative and innovative way. The Peruvian Ministry of Education has expressed interest in forming a partnership to develop innovative teaching and training methodologies and even here in Canada the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto has shown interest in our work.
In 2015 our partner projects reached new levels of success. In particular, I am very proud that 16 children with autism were integrated into regular school classrooms, for the first time ever, in Cusco through our program with Manos Unidas. Also, Karina a girl whom we have been supporting through first our Pro Rural Program and then our Alumni Program, received a full scholarship to attend university.
This success has made me think a little bigger. In 2016 we will be initiating new projects in the jungle areas of both Peru and Bolivia. We expect to have 30 projects running by the end of 2016. I hope that over the coming year as our work continues to improve we come closer to having a national impact in Peru and Bolivia through a partial integration of our innovative teacher training programs and critical thinking based homework clubs into the Ministry of Education’s programming.
It has been a remarkable five years and I wish to thank all of the volunteers, program directors, partners and supporters who have all helped us improve the quality of education and the excitement for learning amongst so many communities in Peru and Bolivia. I am convinced that some of the children we have worked with, as adults, will become agents of change in their communities and in their country.
My ultimate goal is for the Alma Foundation to become redundant.
To view the full Five Year Annual Report please click here.