Quito Conference Inspires Teachers

Extreme Response is committed to providing educational support to children and adults who come from the struggling communities where we serve. In Quito, Ecuador ER staff identified a critical need to strengthen the teaching skills of our partners who engage with high-risk kids. We launched our first Teaching Conference to meet this need.

By Robyn Wallace, Quito Children’s Program Director

We wrapped up our first regional Teaching Conference last night here in Quito. A total of 67 teachers registered and just about everyone showed up.

We received rave reviews and many “thank you’s”. Our workshop leader shared her personal journey of how she overcame obstacles and challenges to reach the point where she is today. Her story was inspiring and many teachers approached her afterward to talk. The teachers also gave her strong reviews on the conference evaluation forms.

Here are a few statistics from the conference:

  • 2-day event
  • 67 teachers registered
  • 4 schools, 2 after-school programs (5 ER partners, 1 is our program) participated
  • 8 workshops
  • Key Topic: How to Engage and Motivate Children (elementary school focus)
  • 2 debrief sessions
  • 5 meals provided
  • Overnight housing provided

More important than these statistics was the overall sense of purpose shared among the participants. Many of the teachers are challenged by inadequate resources and struggling students. The conference sessions, combined with the community of like-minded teachers, strengthened their commitment and enthusiasm.

We are thankful to those who support our work here in Ecuador and look forward to continuing to build up these teachers. We’re also thankful for the teachers who attended this conference in order to grow their skills.

Learn more about how ER serves the Quito Dump Recycling Community here, about our partners in the Americas region here, and about ER’s Educational Access Initiative here.


Finding the Right Path to Success

(March 15, 2017)

Path Project is a long-time ER partner headquartered in Snellville, GA. The organization operates after-school programs in several mobile home parks in Georgia and Tennessee.

Co-founder Melinda Hollandsworth shared the story of Sophia in Path Project’s most recent newsletter. It’s a great example of how after-school programs can make a huge difference in the child’s future.

“If you’ve been around Path Project for a while you’ve probably heard us talk about Sophia,” Melinda shared. “She’s doing well as a freshman at Georgia Gwinnett College and I asked her to reflect on how Path Project impacted her life.  This is what Sophia wrote:” 

 “As a kid I always struggled with school. I had to take English Classes, and I was always getting low grades in every class because it was difficult for me to understand. My parents couldn’t help me with any of the work because they didn’t understand either.

I always remember this one moment in 5th grade. My teacher handed out ice cream to the whole class except me because I couldn’t get some of the multiplications problems correct. The teacher told my mom that I needed to go to extra learning classes, but it cost $130 monthly. I wasn’t able to go.  As I was starting middle school, I started to care less about school because I didn’t feel like I was smart enough to be there.

“Luckily, Path Project came into our lives and helped so many kids like me become better students and created great opportunities. I was able to graduate on time, I achieved all A’s and B’s my last semester in high school and I’m doing well in college. The neighborhood is calm now. Anything is possible with support from people who care about you.”

Path Project continues to be in growth mode, according to co-founder Jim Hollandsworth. Last August they opened a new site in Buford, GA, and are planning another launch this summer.

“We’re launching in a mobile home park called Peachtree Village in Sugar Hill, GA,” he said. “It’s owned by the same company that owns Gwinnett Estates and four of our other sites.

“We’re partnering with a local church called Sugar Hill Church and all of our start up funding for the first year has been provided,” he added. “We already bought a trailer and started renovating it there.”

Learn more about Path Project here.


(The following article is from Sept. 26, 2015)

Jim Hollandsworth is the founder and executive director of The Path Project, an ER partner based in suburban Atlanta that seeks to help at-risk children close the achievement gap, graduate from high school, become productive members of society and “find the right path for their lives” through academic, social and spiritual development. Here Jim shares some encouraging success stories from The Path Project’s work in Atlanta and beyond.

One of our main goals for students who are part of the Path Project is that they would graduate high school with a plan for their future. For six years we’ve been focused on this goal. We’ve seen many of our students improve their grades at school, but we’ve also continued to see students struggle in middle and high school.

Through conversations with local and state education leaders, and families in the communities we serve, we’ve realized tPath Project 4hat a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school depends on their ability to read in elementary school. In fact, students who are reading on or above grade level by 3rd grade are 400 percent more likely to graduate high school than students who are reading below grade level.

In Georgia, Latino students have a 57 percent graduation rate, the lowest of any demographic in the state. The Mexican students in the communities we serve have an even lower graduation rate because of factors including poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and parents who didn’t complete high school.

In response to this research, we have partnered with an initiative by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal called “Get Georgia Reading,” the goal of which is to get low-income students in the state reading on or above grade level by 3rd grade. (Pictured at left are my wife, Melinda, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, state Board of Education representative Mike Royal and me at the statewide launch of this campaign.)

Last year we launched our own Literacy Program for K-2nd graders in the Gwinnett Estates mobile home park, aimed at increasing their exposure to reading and language every day after school. We began tracking the Kindergarteners who were part of that program last year and who were part of our preschool programs before that. By the end of last school year, 15 of 16 students were reading on or above grade level.

Path Project 2Knowing how important this is to long-term academic success, we are thrilled with these results! Our staff and volunteers have done an amazing job in leading this program at Gwinnett Estates, and now we’re expanding our model to other communities. One of the biggest challenges in Mexican immigrant communities is overcoming high dropout rates. Our goal is to change this trend, one community at a time, in Georgia and beyond.

In fact, we’re even starting to export this model internationally. Working with Ron and Amy Townsend in the ER South Africa office, we’ve been able to share some of these ideas for an after-school literacy program they are launching in January. It’s encouraging to see multiple ER partners work together to help at-risk kids learn to read!

Path Project 3In addition to the Literacy Program’s success, we’re excited about several more initiatives, programs and success stories from our communities:

  • Middle/High Leadership Academy: We’ve launched a pilot program in our largest community for students in grades 6 through 12 to help with academics, career exposure, college awareness, driver’s licenses and other life skills. Thirty students are part of this program.
  • Soccer League: In partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we are helping kids get professional soccer instruction, and more importantly, character training and relationship building with a coach each week. We’re seeing boys respond to this who have never been part of our programs before!
  • Summer Camps: We helped more than 200 students attend camps this past summer, including FCA Soccer Camp (120 students) and our own Path Project Big Camp (140 students).
  • High School Graduates: This year we’ll see four of our students from the Gwinnett Estates community graduate from high school. This is significant because historically the dropout rate in these communities has been really low. In fact, over the past six years, we know of only four students total from Gwinnett Estates who have graduated high school. We’ve known each of these current seniors since they were in 6th grade, and it’s been a joy to walk with them as they purse this goal of graduation.

To learn more about The Path Project, visit www.path-project.org.