2.2.1 Partner With the Private Sector to Expand the Array and Number of Experiential Opportunities Available to Youth
The Fabretto Children’s Foundation, works at the community level to empower children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential and to improve their livelihoods through education and nutrition. Partnering with Mayorga coffee and other private companies, offers the Foundation both funding and economic opportunities needed to support a longer term, comprehensive training model known as the Tutorial Learning System of SAT (Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial). Fabretto partners with food and agriculture companies in new product development and marketing as well as receiving technical assistance. Fabretto then uses SAT to train and to prepare students to engage in the resulting enterprises.
The Tutorial Learning System of SAT (Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial) provides youth who have completed primary school with a vocational high school program that builds up skills in mathematics, science and technology. Given the program operates in rural areas, the applied focus is on agriculture and natural resource management, leveraging local context and market opportunities suited to the region.
The SAT program seeks to build students’ skills in communications and leadership while instilling them with a sense of personal responsibility and ethics. As there are few physical high schools in the rural areas, SAT is designed to reach groups of youth in their communities via traveling tutors that work with them and their families over five years. SAT heavily relies upon an applied curriculum. For example, lessons on personal health and wellness may be linked to a health examination, while lessons in the agri-curricula may incorporate vermi-culture and bee-keeping.
Over the last two to three years, Fabretto recognized a need among students to generate income while they are in school to provide for themselves and their families. So the program transitioned from “learning by doing to learning by learning.” For example, students are selling the compost they produce via vermi-culture to local producers.
To date, 760 students have completed SAT, with 100% of graduates either pursuing further education or operating their own enterprises. There are 200 students engaged in cooperatives started in the Fabretto program, while another 22 are operating their own enterprises, working in everything from honey production to chilies to dried passion fruit.
As Fabretto seeks to further scale this effort, some of the greatest questions remain around identifying suitable commercial opportunities for students. Fabretto’s leadership has used their own networks and connections to build out innovative partnerships with food companies in new product development and marketing. Mayorga Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee importer, roaster and wholesaler selling within the US, is one such partnership. Working together since 2007, Mayorga purchases coffee from cooperatives in Fabretto’s communities guaranteeing price and volume. In addition, Mayorga donates back a percentage of the profits to Fabretto to use as needed in the program. Additional partnerships exist with honey wholesalers in Europe, as well as with regional grocery chains and wholesalers for horticulture.