Spring Program Update

“I just returned from just under 2 months (Jan-Feb) in Guatemala.  In contrast to previous years, this year I stayed in Panajachel and worked out of Starfish’s main office there.  All told, there were fewer visitors than last year (approximately 30, but another 15 coming through in March).  The total number of beneficiaries in 2012 is 210 students and their families.  There are also 30 indirect beneficiaries from the Starfish training program. 

As usual, Starfish has many organizational areas where we are innovating and driving innovation.  The most notable are mentioned below.”

Travis Ning, Executive Director


POWER Program (7-9th grade): This program continues to be the most systematized of the organization.  There are currently 5 groups of girls in the POWER Program.  There are 3 mentors and the program is supervised by Marilena.  One of the more significant areas of focus of the POWER program is the “Friendship Phase” that Marilena is supervising throughout all 12 Starfish groups.  During this phase, all mentors are challenged to make continual family visits in an effort to create a unique and positive space and relationship with them.  The staff is employing several of the tools acquired via trainings from a training entity in Mexico called JUCONI.  Through specific games, recognition of family efforts to support schooling, and a strengths-based focus, Starfish is trying to construct a unique, positive relationship that will serve as a platform for all future interactions.  This phase formally launched in February and Marilena has been accompanying all mentors to model these new techniques.

The major advantage that Starfish has with the POWER Program is experience.  Now removed from directly mentoring groups, Marilena able to supervise and accompany POWER mentors in the field.  Marilena is growing into her role as a supervisor and is very committed to the continued work with families.  The curriculum of the POWER Program has been developed over several years, but still needs improvement in the areas of nutrition and environmentalism.


BRIDGE Program (10-12th): The BRIDGE Program has 7 groups.  Starfish hired Thelma as the BRIDGE Coordinator in November of 2011 and she supervises 3 mentors and also mentors the pioneer group.  The BRIDGE Program is in its first year of full implementation and is being designed and implemented at the same time.  Thus far, Thelma is very solid and viewed by the mentors as resource.   The more notable development in the BRIDGE Program is the “Foot in the Door” Program that matches Starfish students with non-profits or small businesses.  Through part-time jobs, Starfish students are gaining powerful, firsthand experience.  Starfish (via the Dining for Women Grant) covers roughly 80% of the girl’s stipend while the non-profit or business picks up the balance.  At present, Starfish students are working at the following organizations/businesses:

• La Puerta Abierta (Children’s library – Santiago)

• Adisa (special needs children – Santiago)

• Department of Education (Santiago)

• Africa 70 (environmental education – Santiago)

• Friendship Bridge (Pana)

• Mercado Global (women’s co-op – Pana)

• La Comunidad (women’s co-op – Pana)

• Hotel Cacique Inn (Pana)

• Mayan Families (pre-school education – Pana)

• Community Solutions Enterprise (micro-consignment –  Sololá)

• Starfish (mini-mentors)


Posted on April 11, 2012