LEAP Scholarship Program

Education • Work-Study • Self-Reliance


During its more than three decades of service in the Guatemala highlands, Local Hope, Guatemala’s “Xela AID,” has learned that education is the first step towards long-term, positive change, and well-compensated, meaningful work is the second. Our LEAP Scholarship Program matches sponsors with children and young adults living in a poverty belt in the Guatemala highlands, who wish to attend school—a luxury for many—or gain work experience through an internship. Estrella at left began with the program at age 11. Although she lived on a dirt floor with no electricity, her dream was to become a nurse and help others. A LEAP sponsor made that possible, and today she is Nurse Estrella. You can help others like Estrella make their dream come true.

Your educational scholarship (preschool-college) will cover tuition, books and school supplies and immediately bring hope for a new future for a young person like Estrella. A work scholarship (internship) will open the door to new work experience, and often, a job in an area where unemployment hovers at near 80%. We have often seen recipients burst into tears of joy when they learn they have been sponsored! For many, it means being able to look forward to a life beyond hard labor in the fields.

You can help by sponsoring a child or young adult:

  • Preschool • $365 per year
  • Grade School • $390 per year
  • High School • $775 per year
  • College/University • $1,500 per year (Weekend classes)
  • College/University • $2,575 per year (Full time study)

> We call our LEAP Scholarship Sponsors "Angels” because your support is so important to a child or young adult's future.
> When Local Hope arrived in San Martin Chiquito in 1992, the average child left school at age 9 and only 4% of studying were girls.
> We are proud that today most of our students graduate from high school, many go on to technical school or college, and more than 50% of our students are girls!
> The very first high school graduates in the community were sponsored by Local Hope, and they’ve been followed by the very first college graduates.
> A LEAP Scholarship is a gift that keeps on giving, since numerous studies show that those who are educated also educate their children, the first step in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Our waiting list is bursting at the seams. Will you transform the life of one child or more NOW?


Student Commitment

Each Work-Study student and parent or guardian signs a contract when they join the program, committing to a number of requirements such as attending school, seeking help at Xela AID's Study Center if needed, and other pledges aimed at helping them be successful in school. Each student is required to provide Xela AID with a copy of their most recent school transcript to remain in the program. If a child falls below a 60% grade average in four main courses (language, math, science, and social studies), they understand that they are on probation and will not receive a distribution until the average is raised. A Xela AID representative meets with each child several times a year to try to identify problems early and help avoid the necessity of probation. A child who has been on probation and raises their average to the minimum by the next distribution receives all funds.

We regret that a child who is unable to raise his or her average within six months will be dropped from the program. This is necessary to incent children to make the necessary effort to achieve, and also, to make room in the program for children who are truly devoted to meeting their educational goals.

Outcomes at a Glance

Xela AID arrived in the San Martin Sacatepequez region in 1992.
> 1992 - The average child entered school at age 6, and left at age 9.
> Today - Local Hope LEAP students and young adults typically enter the program at 6, and leave between age 16 and 18
Outcome: LEAP Scholarships increased the number of years the average child is in school from just 3 years to 11

> 1992 - Only 4% of all children in school were girls.
> Today – 52-54% of Xela AID Work-Students are girls.
Outcome: LEAP Scholarships increased the percentage of girls in the program from just 2% to more than half!

> 1992 - It was estimated that in San Martín Chiquito, only 1 in 30 children (3.3%) completed schooling through age 16.
> Today, in the LEAP Scholarship Program, more than 90% of our students stick with us through age 16, and 100% are literate when they leave the program. We continue to work to bridge more of our children into technical schools and college, and will do so with your support!
Outcome: LEAP Scholarship students and young adults vastly outperformed the norm, with 90% of participants staying in school through age 16 vs. just 3.3% without assistance, and 100% literacy vs. 40%* in the general populace (*WHO 2013 report).

> 1992 - There were NO college graduates in San Martín Chiquito.
> Today, there are dozens of college graduates, with more than 50 in college or on a college track. More than half of those are young women (a huge step for this community!).
Outcome: We've not only produced San Martín Chiquito's FIRST college graduates, but we've only just begun. There are more than ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY children now sponsored and in school, following in the footsteps of these determined children!

Sponsoring a Child

Use the link at the top of this page if you are ready to Sponsor a Child. If you have additional questions, contact our local Program Director at jackie@localhope.org . Once you become an “Angel,” we will send you a LEAP Scholarship Program Welcome Pack telling you a bit more about the program. It's as easy as that!

Additional Information

You Can Visit Your Sponsored Child - You are welcome to join us on one of our Service Trips that are organized each year where you can meet your student in person. The students will often ask if their padrino or padrina has come to vist, and they are eager to greet and welcome you in person. Your support (financial AND emotional) means the world to them!

Sending Gifts - You are welcome to send a gift to your student for birthdays or holidays. Instructions on how to do that will be included in your Welcome Pack, along with additional information.

The philosopher Kuan Chung wrote:

"If you plan for a year; plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree.
If for a hundred years, teach the people.
When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest.
When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests."

A LEAP Scholarship is a gift that reaps a hundred harvests, since study after study shows that those who are educated also educate their children, breaking the cycle of poverty. Thank you for considering becoming a Local Hope Angel and positively impacting the life of a child NOW, and their children in the future.