Worthy Causes: The Chispa Project
Science, Naturally and our sister company Platypus Media, are honored that our Bilingual Nurtured and Nuzzled Set and the Bilingual Science and Math Mysteries Collection are sparking an interest in reading for the children of Honduras through a wonderful organization called the Chispa Project!
About the Sara Burkes, Executive Director of the Chispa Project
Sara Burkes lives in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. She first went to Honduras seven years ago, to visit a friend in the Peace Corps. Inspired by the lives of the people there, she decided to get involved by volunteering in a local school’s 1st - 3rd grade classroom. At the time, she only knew a little Spanish from college and high school, but she ended up learning the language along with the children, working with them daily. Eventually, she founded The Chispa Project. Chispa means "spark" in Spanish, which reflects Sara's belief that access to books can spark a lifelong interest in learning.
The Chispa Project is changing lives, not only for the kids of Honduras, but for Sara herself. For her, the reward has been how the community has made her feel:
“Honduras has a rough reputation, but as an outsider they have been so hospitable and so welcoming. I think their warmth should be revered, and it sets an example for us as Americans to be gracious and compassionate to the complex story of immigration. I know it is hard for us to understand something like that, but we have not lived their lives or felt their love and desperation that leads to such a decision. Community is key.”
The Chispa Project’s Mission
Through book donations, teacher development, and international volunteer projects, the Chispa Project works with Honduran educational institutions to spark a passion for learning that will grow and be nurtured within the local communities. Their vision is to create a desire for lifetime learning which enhances the quality of life for all. Over the last several years - solely through volunteer efforts - approximately 14,000 books have been donated to more than 50 different schools!
Because most Honduran families live below the poverty line and can’t afford children's books, 60% of Honduran children are below a satisfactory reading level. Literature helps develop creative thinking, gain fluency in their language, and encourages communities to come together.
The Chispa Project focuses on putting libraries in rural schools that have low income and resource and a high risk of gang violence. Most of these schools have multiple grade levels learning in one room, leading to a poor teacher/student ratio. This results children teaching themselves most skills, and copying lessons from the board and books.
The Chispa Project, Science Naturally, and Platypus Media
We are always on the look out for ways we can support early childhood education and literacy efforts all around the globe, and we were thrilled to send the Chispa Project copies of our bilingual books. As Sara tours the country, she brings donated books to more school libraries, spreading literacy and an interest in reading throughout the country.
How You Can Help
Sponsor a Library: It costs about $6,000.00 to establish a library in Honduras, of which the Chispa Project sponsors $3,000.00. Sponsoring a library is a great way to impact the lives of these children for generations to come. Sara’s goal is to establish 10 new school libraries this year.
Donate Books: Book donations are very helpful, and if you would like to donate books here are some general guidelines:
The Chispa Project emphasizes Spanish books. Although bilingual literature is helpful for learning dual languages, the Chispa Project is focused on teaching Hondurans their own language first.
They seek a variety of fiction and nonfiction books for pre-k to 9th grade at approximately 10-20 books per title.
Kids struggle with math and critical thinking skills as much as they do reading—60% in Honduras are below satisfactory levels—so books with mathematical word problems are also great.
The Chispa project is grateful for books of all subjects, but they do try to avoid books with the standard blonde-haired, blue-eyed princess, Christmas stories with an abundance of presents, and false historical narratives.
All of the financial support for the Chispa Project comes from individual donations. Outside of that, community involvement is what makes the program sustainable.
If you would like to donate books or financial assistance, please contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.