Street Census Redone


It has been 10 years since we did the street census during the summer of 2006. Last year, we did it again. This graph shows some results. Read more about both censuses here.

Back to School 2016-2017


We have had another fun summer at English camp, making many new friends, hoping that we’ll see again one day! Some camp volunteers even did some modeling for our art shop website. Check it out!

Now it’s that time of year again. We’re hustling to get our floor finished, patch a tin roof, order books, create more storage space for donated rice, register students, and more! We know those of you studying, teaching, or with school age kids have your own back-to-school preparations.

In the 2015-2016 school year we had help from 90 sponsors who donated $100 for the year and were each paired with a student. (Actually, 90 students were sponsored but less than 90 individuals sponsored as some sponsored more than one.) Many sponsors sent bookbags, packages with stickers and such, or notecards to their students. Many students sent thank you notes to their sponsors as well, and one sponsor who visited was even able to obtain her sponsored child’s self portrait on a block of wood. Our program isn’t perfect and as most non-profits can tell you, we’re always short handed, run by volunteers and next-to-volunteers, but we try our best to facilitate the sponsor-student relationship and we truly appreciate those of you who participate.

With 200ish students, we fall short of meeting the needs. We know that with the amount of friends who visited this year, we can meet the goal of finding a sponsor for ALL of our students! If you can’t do it yourself, you can invite others to chip in to help you! E-mail for more information on starting a sponsorship or to renew your sponsorship.

And here is a recent blog post updating you on the school in Padre Granero. Thanks for following! 

New School Fundraiser!

Remember the fundraiser Project Esperanza held last spring for our new school building where we successfully raised $20K? We have launched phase 2 – a new fundraising campaign for our new school building in Padre Granero. Our goal is to raise $44,000 within 2 months! Same deal as last time – your $10 donation enters your name into an RCI time share points drawing. Your generous support is greatly appreciated! Here is the link to the fundraiser:
Perks for Donating Include:
Putting your name in the mural at school
Having a classroom named after you
Christmas Ornaments
Christmas Cards

Your name can be put into this beautiful mural made out of sea glass!

Donate in a loved’s ones name and they will receive this Christmas card designed by one of our 5th grade students with an explanation of the donation.

Christmas ornaments made by group home members: $5 each. Made out of sea glass and coconut shells, they have a word in English on one side and in Haitian Creole on the other side.

Student sponsor update: We have 61 students sponsored so far. That leaves 139 of our students still in need of a sponsor! Please consider sponsoring a student as a Christmas gift this year!
E-mail Sponsor@EsperanzaMeansHope to sponsor a student, buy Christmas ornaments, or make a donation in a loved ones name to receive the Christmas card.

Fall Updates from Project Esperanza

Greetings from Puerto Plata!

It’s been a while since this blog has been updated, so this is a brief summary of what Project Esperanza has been up this fall and summer:

A New Year in a New School Building!

Welcome back to school! We have started this year in our new and improved building in Padre Granero, thanks to all those who donated to make it possible.

We reached our $20K goal for the Indiegogo fundraiser last spring, thanks to many of you! However, that was just a chunk of what we need to raise to finish purchasing and rennovating the building. We worked hard all summer getting the floors and bathroom in shape, putting up classroom dividing walls, and much more! You can read about the progress here.

This year we have over 150 students in the new building in Padre Granero. In Munoz, there are right around 50 students. Classes are in full swing, and the kids are excited to be back!

We have 31 students sponsored so far this year. Sponsorship means a lot to our students and helps us to maintain our schools! If you would like to sponsor a student for $100/ year, please contact our sponsorship coordinator, Crystal at

Welcome Kati!

Kati Hinman has taken over as our volunteer coordinator this year. A recent grad from UC Berkeley, she is excited for this opportunity to live in the Dominican Republic and work with “such a fabulous team of people”. She’s also looking forward to helping coach soccer and all the mangos! If you have any questions about volunteer opportunities or what’s happening on the ground, please do not hesitate to contact her at

Fire in the Bateye

In June, a fire broke out in one of the three bateyes and burnt 62 houses to the ground. We were able to distribute many donations our wonderful supporters and volunteers gave to help out families in this time of extra need. The government has shared plans to rebuild but nothing has commenced yet. In conjunction with Sewing My Future run by Julie Baker, we received a donation from The Dewe Foundation to make school uniforms for the fire victims and are working on that currently. We continue to serve the community through the school, eco-construction projects, art shop, and are still fundraising to set up a cacao garden.

2015 Volunteer Challenge!

84 people have volunteered with Project Esperanza so far this year. When one volunteers with us, they meet those we serve and interact with them closely. But we hope that the relationship does not end there. Out of the 84 volunteers so far this year, 2 have sponsored students. 0 have come on board as monthly sponsors, although two already were. We rely on these contributions to do the work that we do. We would like to challenge each volunteer who leaves here to either become a sponsor or recruit a sponsor!Global Giving is matching re-occurring donations that are signed up for this week. Who is up for this challenge!?

Change my Stars Summer Camp

2015 was another successful summer for the Change my Stars English Immersion Camp! After 5 weeks of fun activities and games designed to improve their English skills, the 31 campers who participated in the research on average scored 44% higher on the post-test. You can see what they enjoyed in these graphics made by Ashley-Brooke Moses.

And last but certainly not least!


Ashley McKenzie, Kayla Jacobs, Ashley-Brooke Moses, Kiki Spiezio, Pace Academy Group, Reed Kennedy, Crystal Fox, Melissa Fancey, Berryville Baptist Rascals, Shanyce Campbell, Jessie Montana Cain, Faith, Hope, and Joy Foundation, and the Noel Family!

It means a lot to us to have volunteers donate their time and energy to our work. We appreciate all that you have done and we hope that you stay in touch and continue to support Project Esperanza!

Recycling trash into…a new school!

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If you have ever visited Puerto Plata, you have seen the beautiful blue beaches set against a backdrop of gorgeous green mountains speckled with tropical flowers and fruits of all kinds.  If you have been out of the tourist all-inclusive resorts, you have probably experienced all of this while also noticing piles of trash along side roads, in gutters, in people’s back yards, and marring those lovely beaches that nobody is paid to clean up daily. Because people often have to rely on bottled (or bagged) water to drink, because the negative aspects of littering are not emphasized, and because there is little infrastructure to deal with many things such as sanitation in the local community (and this could be a discussion for several blog posts  but is not the point of this one), the trash problem quickly gets out of hand!

Project Esperanza has found an exciting new way for the students we serve to help clean up their community and at the same time contribute toward the fundraising for the new, permanent school building they desperately need!

Students have been going out to collect bottles and cans, and when they have collected enough to fill a truck, they load up their recyclables and take them to a recycling center, a Recicladora, in Santiago where they are paid for their efforts!

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While the ability to fundraise in the Dominican Republic is limited, this is one way that the local community can be part of the work as we come together to raise the needed funds to purchase a place where our students can be educated and play safely!

This is also a potential project for short-term volunteers who could lead a group of volunteers and/or students in a day or several days of clean-up and recycling.

Along these same lines, if your state or province has a deposit on cans and bottles, a weekend bottle drive is a quick way to help us fundraise in solidarity with our students!  Sometimes Redemption Centers even add 1 cent for each can/bottle brought back when the money is being donated. Send us your photos to post on the blog and on Facebook!

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Some people have also started programs in schools to recycle a variety of objects…from trash to old electronics…in an effort to help PE fundraise! If that is something you think you can do, check out


They, and other organizations like them, give money to charities like Project Esperanza for those enrolled in their recycling programs.

Look for updates about our recycling project on our recycling for Padre Granero Facebook page.

You can donate to our fundraising efforts for a new, permanent school!



Volunteer Debriefing

When volunteers come to work with us, we usually ask them to reflect on their experience by asking them a few questions about their time with us. Morganne was a remarkable 16-year old who came to volunteer for 6 weeks during the summer of 2014. Among other projects, she did a wonderful job leading the “songs” station at Cambia Mis Estrellas Summer Camp.  She expertly changed the lyrics of many common American children’s songs to incorporate the theme of the week and the kids had a great time singing and dancing in her station.  The following are her thoughtful and mature answers to some of our questions. Perhaps they will inspire you to come and spend some time with us if you haven’t already!

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PE: What was your favorite part of your trip?

Morganne: I really enjoyed knowing and working with my housemates. They had a really cool diversity of experience and I feel like I learned a lot. I also thought that camp was a really fun and engaging experience.

PE: What was your least favorite part of your trip?

Morganne: Personally, I missed both wifi and the comforts of home. But I hardly think these even qualify as woes because they were just a part of the adventure. I had a great trip in general.

PE: Had you seen poverty/lack of opportunity to this extent before?

I had not experienced it so personally or for such an extended period of time. I traveled to India a little more than 4 years ago, and briefly saw similar conditions, but it was a glance at best.

PE: How do you feel about returning to the US?

To be perfectly honest, I felt relieved. It took some doing to get here (I had some money troubles trying to navigate Dominican customs), but it was nice to come home. 6 weeks was a long time for me, and while I wouldn’t trade a moment of it, I was happy to see my family.

PE: Do you feel like anything in your mindset/world view will change? What will really stick with you? My mom has worked extensively in the international development field, and I like to think that her values and ideals are a part of my own outlook. So there weren’t any dramatic worldview alterations, but I still feel that I learned a lot. We had some excellent in-house discussions on the ethics of voluntourism and development that helped me to clarify my own views on what we accomplished this summer and also future projects.

PE: Do you feel like those of us from developed countries that have received good education, have job opportunities, etc. have a certain amount of responsibility to the developing world?

Morganne: I heard an excellent anecdote recently that I think is apropos to the work that NGOs do in the developing world (and by extension what we did this summer). There was once a little boy who was drawing a bath, and in doing so he accidentally let the tub overflow. Water soon flooded the bathroom and his father came in. The dad asked his son what on earth had he been thinking, to which the child replied, “There isn’t time to look at the bigger picture, dad! We have to get buckets and bail!” Similarly, the problems that non-profit organizations battle are immediate and pressing. We have a responsibility to help with these needs. There is an issue that is eminently solvable, but equally needs attention in the long term. The educations that we have been fortunate enough to receive in the United States give us the tools we need to help with this, and I think that it’s admirable and necessary to address it. However, these problems stem from a socioeconomic and political system that is fundamentally broken, for whatever reason. There isn’t anything we can do, as foreigners, to foment the change that is necessary. The instigation needs to come from a grassroots level and sweep it’s way through the government. These larger changes have a tendency to go horribly awry when large and powerful countries inflict them upon the developing world. Iraq is the example that springs to mind, though it is extreme. As individuals, it is both satisfying and frustrating to work on the local level with underprivileged communities. On one hand, there is a tangible difference that you can make if your project succeeds. On the other, it feels as though you are bailing with a thimble, to reference the allegory above.

Food for thought on this last question:

-We (from the developed world in general) have a responsibility to our own country built in with taxes but what about responsibility to the developing world?

-In our generation we are not directly responsibility for the development of our home countries. We did not take part in setting it up but we do reap the benefits.

Help us build a new school! Buy a raffle ticket! Win a vacation!

We are fundraising to purchase a school building! On January 24, 2015, we will be forced to move out of our current school building, where 130 kids in 9 classes grades pre-K through 6th receive an education. One of our supporters has generously donated 22 time share points through RCI Time Shares. This translates into a week long stay at your choice of resorts located in the USA and around the world. All costs related to the time share are covered. The only cost not covered is transportation to and from the resort of your choice.
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Tickets are just $10 each. Purchasers of 10 or more tickets (or any $100+ donation to this cause) receive a t-shirt designed by one of our students, indicating that you have helped to support the new school building!

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To confirm that the names you want put in the drawing are entered, in addition to sending in the funds, please e-mail with the name, e-mail, and phone number of each ticket recipient.

Funds for ticket purchase can also be sent via paypal or check made out to Project Esperanza, sent to 1291 Valley Mill Rd. Winchester, VA 2202.



The winner of the raffle must use the vacation by April 2015. Our students will do the drawing at 11am on December 18th. A video of the drawing will be posted within two days of the drawing.

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**NOTE: If you donate $10 through our Global Giving project on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 2nd, your name will automatically be entered into the raffle and you can help us win an extra $5,000! If you donate right at 9am EST or 3pm EST your donation will likely be matched, and if we get enough unique donors throughout the day, we win an extra $5,000 toward the cause!**