Frequently Asked Questions
Why Nicaragua and Guatemala?
Nicaragua is the most economically impoverished country in Central America and the second most impoverished in the Western Hemisphere, with widespread underemployment. Until recently, nearly half of Nicaraguan children were forced to drop out of school before reaching the sixth grade. This is largely due to the impact of economic hardship, as some families don’t have resources for uniforms, books, or transportation for their children, and some need their children to work on family farms. Nicaragua is working hard to support students staying in school, but the challenges are more acute for the rural students we serve. The Guatemalan students we serve have challenges related to parents who were not able to become fully literate, malnutrition, and the fact that their schools teach in Spanish, which is not the language spoken in their homes.
Where do the scholarship students live?
The students live in rural areas of Guatemala & Nicaragua. Most live in communities that consist of clusters of houses and farmland.
How much of my donation goes to actual programs?
Donations to Opportunity Tree will go directly to support educational programs in Nicaragua and Guatemala. This is possible because we already have funds to cover administrative expenses and our North American staff are volunteers. We have the unique opportunity to spend donated funds that we receive to directly support education programs in Nicaragua. Going forward, we’ve also taken steps to keep administrative costs extremely low. We want our money to go to its best use: directly helping children and youth in Nicaragua and Guatemala pursue their dreams through education.
Where are the elementary schools?
Some villages have an elementary school, which is often the only shared indoor space in the community. Some young children have to travel to school on foot or by bus. One recent graduate from the scholarship program, Jacqueline, used to have to walk two hours in each direction to get to her elementary school.
Where do the older students study?
Many of the older students need to work during the week to help their families. Usually, they work in agriculture, but a few students sell vegetables or goods in a nearby town. These students travel to attend high school or university classes on the weekends. There is no tuition charged for high school, but the students need to provide their own transportation and meals. They must also buy printouts of course materials and school supplies. University students travel even farther to school, usually to the city of Matagalpa, at their own expense. The trip takes approximately two hours each way for some of them. They pay tuition and need to purchase course materials, school supplies, and internet time for research.
How are the scholarship students selected?
Our program administrators in Matagalpa select the scholarship students from applications they receive. They are evaluated to determine financial need and strong commitment to the course of study. Scholarship students must maintain good grades in order to remain in the program.