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Self-sustaining School Model

An educational model based on "learning by doing, selling and earning", giving underprivileged young students access to quality education.

Fundación Paraguaya's Self-sustaining school model, connects underprivileged young people with quality education. Through this learning experience, students thrive personally and professionally, and open an array of opportunities. The "learning by doing" model allows them to break the circle of poverty by guiding them to become employable, pursue higher education, or start their own business.

HundrED 2022






Target group
May 2022
The concept of education that pays for itself means converting high schools into engines of learning and income generation, transforming vulnerable youth into entrepreneurs.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

In Paraguay, 6 out of 10 children do not finish high school because access to quality education is limited and expensive. The Self-sustaining school model addresses this problem by offering affordable and high-quality secondary school education to low-income, mainly rural communities in Latin America and Africa, serving youth who have few educational opportunities.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

The Self-sustaining school model ensures the quality and relevance of the program by giving students the opportunity to learn practical and entrepreneurial skills as they help run the school’s commercially viable, on-campus enterprises. The school curriculum is a hybrid between two official government curriculum programs (Agriculture & Livestock Studies and Rural Tourism & Lodging Studies) and the entrepreneurship education curriculum from Junior Achievement. Students learn to run competitive enterprises—from production to marketing to record keeping—acquiring useful, marketable skills. At the same time, the school ensures that this education is affordable for the students by generating income to cover the costs. The competencies developed empower students to broaden their perception of possibility and improve their quality of life. The model offers a paradigm shift; it’s about changing the approach to alleviating rural poverty by providing innovative educational opportunities.

How has it been spreading?

The Self-Sustaining School model has been promoted in the past through partnerships with businesses, governments and other non-profits. It has been implemented in 18 countries. The Self-Sustaining School Model has been recognized and awarded in several occasions by: Novia Salcedo Award (2016), International Labour Organization and MTV Award for Best Practices in Youth Work (2014), Nestlé Award for Creation of Shared Value for the Self-Sufficient School Program (2012), Ashoka Changemakers Challenge “Driving Economic Opportunities”, Oikocredit Award (2010), Japan Most Innovative Development Project Award (2009), WISE Education Awards of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) (2009), Templeton Award in the Social Entrepreneurship category (2009), UNESCO and IDB (2009).

If I want to try it, what should I do?

If you want to adopt the model you may contact the innovators or via our website ( We will exchange experiences, develop a business and sustainability plan, and upon a cooperative agreement, we will help you search for grants and provide technical assistance to adapt the model to your own context.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Self-sustaining Agriculture School Model is providing students with tools and knowledge to succeed in their lives. This hands on and real life experience empowers students. Additionally, this business unit contributes to train the youth and their school to become financially self-sustainable.

HundrED Academy Reviews

This innovation is indeed ingenious. I am personally inspired by this innovation. The beauty in it is that it aligns with real life needs of millions of people across the globe, as it allows learners; to break the circle of poverty by guiding them to dream bigger.

The impact on these agricultural communities must be tremendous and their children learn real-world skills to improve their families and communities. I notice that Mexico is one of the countries already involved in this program and I definitely see how well that would work here.

- Academy member
Academy review results
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Spread of the innovation

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