Open Windows Foundation
Open Windows Foundation or Ventanas Abiertas is a US-registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focusing on youth education and programming in San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala. The center was founded in 2001 by Ericka Kaplan, Jean Uelmen, and Teresa Quiñonez and now serves over 1,600 members of the Dueñas community.
The mission of the foundation is to Open Windows of opportunity for the disadvantaged children of San Miguel Dueñas, through access to a free library, computer center, and educational center.
The Foundation first opened in 2001 with an enrollment of 20 children assembling in a small room. The original 300 books for the center were donated from a library project that had recently closed in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. The Foundation’s primary function was to act as a dynamic library with the aim of getting kids to read for pleasure.
Over the years, Open Windows has continued to accumulate students, books, funds, and other resources through the personal networking of the founders and the community. In 2003, Rotary International donated 10 computers to Open Windows. This donation allowed Open Windows to expand their services to allowing students to use computers for homework and offering computer classes. Open Windows also launched their initial website in 2003 which allowed for greater publicity.
In September 2005, a formal library room was built and is now filled with over 7,000 books including picture, fiction, non-fiction, and reference books. Two years later, an impending donation from Rotary International for an additional 10 computers prompted the building of a second story computer center at Open Windows. The center was completed in April, 2007. In this time, the mission had been expanded to include enhancing technology skills and to provide educational programming and tutoring for students.
In early 2009, Open Windows opened a teen room in order to expand their services to older children in the community.
Open Windows currently provides four primary programs: the after school program, the activities program, the computer center, and the teen program.
After School Program
The after school program allows the students a time to finish their homework with the supervision and assistance of the five teachers at Open Windows. Because of the close relationship between Open Windows and the local schools, homework for the students is often designed with the specific resources of Open Windows in mind.
The activities program is designed for the students to participate in an interactive reading and learning activity as a group. Every afternoon the teachers at Open Windows use a book read aloud to ground an activity designed to emphasize reading, writing, creative, listening, and thinking skills.
The computer center was completed in 2007 and is composed of 20 computers donated from Rotary International. Classes are provided for children and adults and for various computer programs. In addition to the classes, 10 of the computers are now equipped with internet access for research and other educational purposes. The computer center is always in high demand as it provides the only public-access computers in the area.
With the completion of the teen building in spring 2009, Open Windows began a formal teen program in fall 2009. This program is aimed at opening the center at nights and on weekends, making it more accessible to teenagers who commonly work during the day. Besides providing educational resources for the teens, Open Windows provides activities aimed at creating a safe place for teens to socialize.
Today, Open Windows is led by director and co-founder Teresa Quiñonez. The administration of the Foundation is made up of two boards of directors; one based in Guatemala and the other in the United States. Additionally, there are six full-time teachers on staff.
The Foundation also depends on work from volunteers.
Meet the Open Windows Team on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKOZvtg2XUs
Learn How Open Windows is changing the lives of children and families in San Miguel Duenas with their Eco-Stove donation program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwUMijP5sdY
Keep up with Open Windows on the Open Windows Blog: http://openwindowsguatemala.blogspot.com
Experience Open Windows on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/openwindowsguat/
Visit Open Windows on Twitter: http://twitter.com/OpenWindowsGuat