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Ribbon 21ST CENTURY SKILLS
Connect. Create. Change

SERES

location_on Guatemala
Our mission is to cultivate and catalyze youth leaders to build more just and sustainable communities in Guatemala and El Salvador. Young people become influential and impactful leaders. By providing them with tools, skills, and support services, we encourage active engagement towards improving health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change
Wilber, youth leader
“A leader is the person that understands the needs of the community and drives actions to work with and for the people”

Wilber, youth leader

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

21st Century Skills in Latin America and the Caribbean

Key figures

Innovation Overview

LEADERS
Target Group
5 500
Children/Users
2
Countries
2009
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
293
Views
Updated on August 23rd, 2021
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about the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

During the war in Central America silence was the best bet to survive. The youth, as the post war generation, was raised under this mantra.

This generation decisions and actions are key for shaping the present and future.

We believe that given the encouragement and right kind of learning, any young person become an influential and impactful leader, addressing the injustices in their communitie

How does your innovation work in practice?

We provide professional and personal development that stimulates an active civil society driving towards the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - the universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet by 2030. We lead change by providing training & capacity building, leading youth resource centers, coaching & mentoring, local, regional & global networking and we support youth-led development projects. We are one of the leading organizations worldwide that work to combat complex social, environmental, and economic challenges at local, regional, national, and international levels. This was demonstrated by our UNESCO-Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development in 2015. We do it through 3 initiatives:
1. Ledership training
2. Youth-led Community Centers
3. Eco-Social Enterprises - sustainable initiatives that allow economic freedom for women through a network of local homestays and provide financial sustainability to families

How has it been spreading?

We are empowering the youth in Tecpán, San Miguel Uspantan, & La Dignidad, Guatemala; Suchitoto, Jujutla and Guaymango, El Salvador.

Our goals are:
- Leadership Training: we provide young people from marginalized communities with transformative leadership training, giving them the tools, skills, and support to become influential and impactful leaders of sustainable community development.

- Youth-led Community Centers: we support diverse, context-appropriate spaces designed by- and for-youth to provide services, resources and opportunities for positive youth engagement around the SDGs.

- Eco-Social Enterprises: we leverage our knowledge, networks and infrastructure to partner with the local community and incubate and grow promising locally-led eco-social enterprises.

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

If you are interested in learning more about our model and curriculum please send us a message to info@seres.org

We would love to hear from you!

Research

HundrED Academy Review

The program is based in interactions and enrichment experiences, it doesn’t requiere specific infrastructure or expensive resources. It can be implemented in varied contexts so its scalability is high.

- HundrED Academy Member

By harnessing their positive energy, developing a deep trust relationship, and teaching leadership, communication, finance and agriculture skills, SERES is giving youth the tools to make profound changes in their communities. Tremendous program!!

- HundrED Academy Member
IMPACT & SCALABILITY
SERES’ mission is focused on the development of 21st century skills through transformative leadership training, positive youth engagement and eco- social enterprises. They help young people to become influential and impactful leaders in order to address the injustices in their communities and take action as global citizens.
Academy review results
Scalability
Impact
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process
Media

See this innovation in action

Education: a top priority
Sara Hurtarte, our fabulous Executive Director was recently in Vietnam participating in the 2019 UNESCO Forum ‘Learning and Teaching for Peaceful and Sustainable Societies: From early childhood to primary and secondary education’. This forum provided a platform to exchange experiences and innovative approaches on how to address gaps and fully harness the potential of these three domains of learning, at pre-primary, Primary Education and Secondary Education levels, in order to support sustainable development and global citizenship. UNESCO sees as essential to advance a value-based and holistic approach to learning that is truly transformational in taking Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) (UNESCO 2015). For effective teaching and learning, UNESCO stresses that all three learning dimensions need to be developed:Cognitive: To acquire knowledge, understanding and critical thinking about global, regional, national and local issues, the inter-connectedness of different countries and populations, as well as social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development;Social and Emotional: To have a sense of belonging to a common humanity, sharing values and responsibilities, empathy, solidarity and respect for differences and diversity, as well as fell and assume a sense of responsibility for the future;Behavioral: To act effectively and responsibly at local, national and global levels for a more peaceful and sustainable world.SERES as a practitioner in the non formal education provided interesting insight on how these dimensions should be reflected and balanced in every curriculum outside or inside of school. The forum was followed by a final meeting of the Global Action Programme (GAP) Partners Networks to review and analyse the past five years which were the follow up to the UN Decade for ESD (2005-2014). In this second meeting, SERES participated as a Key Partner focusing on Mobilising Youth on ESD. For the past five years, this has been a platform to know more organizations, think tanks, networks, educational institutions and enterprises working in similar topics around the world. There are actions taking place in every region and this platform provided the space to connect them for a common goal. For the next ten years to come, we expect to continue our collaboration with other organizations and continue advancing to reaching the ESD targets for 2030. There is a great effort from UN agencies and stakeholders to include ESD into the national curriculum, in the case of Guatemala after a conversation with Hector Canto, Vice Minister of Education , we discussed about how are we including ESD in the textbooks. In our country's case, there are just a couple of editorials that produce the textbooks used within our school system. Some questions that came after the conversations were, how are they including new concepts and learning methodologies? Is ESD part of any textbook that guatemalan students are currently using? We know that we have a long way to come, but we need to start inviting important stakeholders into the conversation of Education for Sustainable Development, as education is crucial in achieving the other 16 SDGs. For SERES, we are fully committed in our mission to keep Mobilising Youth on Education for Sustainable Development through the transformation of our local communities into more resilience, sustainable and fairer communities in Central America. If you want to support our work contributing towards achieving the SDGs, and our vision to provide education that creates impact, visit www.seres.org/donateSERES 
SERES leaders build a center of action in Uspantán, Guatemala
Before, the SERES Uspantán youth leaders held their meetings in the central park of Villa de San Miguel, Uspantán. They would gather there, or sometimes in an office space lent to them by one community organization or another, to discuss their action plans to benefit their community and the surrounding communities in the municipality of Uspantán, located in the department of El Quiché, which sits northwest of Guatemala City.Though the location of their gatherings was always in flux, the commitment of many of the young changemakers working to create positive impacts in their communities remained constant. But now, youth leaders like Johana Lopez, a SERES ambassador and active participant in the SERES network of youth leaders in Uspantán since November 2015, have a central space to facilitate that continued planning and further their commitment to their community. Johana said that she has seen a lot change in the past year - much of it due to a brand-new office hub space, called the ConeXpacio, which SERES Uspantán established and opened in May 2019. The ConeXpacio: A place to growYoung people in Uspantán now have a welcoming, safe place to congregate - something that was not available to them prior to the opening of the hub, she noted. “We now have this space to bring about our projects and work on our action plans, and to prepare well for our Actívate programs in surrounding communities in Uspantán,” Johana said. For Julio Tojín, SERES ambassador and one of the main coordinators of the ConeXpacio hub, having a central space for youth leaders to gather has been “a great help.”  “It’s an opportunity to do more things in the municipality,” Julio said. The office serves as a “reference point” for a number of different activities planned by the approximately 20 youth who are heavily involved in SERES Uspantán, Julio said, who are connected to a wider network of at least 70 other young leaders in the municipality who participate in leadership retreats, hikes, teaching reading classes for young children, reforestation efforts, cleaning campaigns, and other activities. Julio, Johana, and Ema Lopez, Johana’s sister and also a SERES ambassador, agreed that having a physical office space has helped expand their SERES Uspantán network, as youth have connected with them via their Facebook page and also have been able to visit them in person at the ConeXpacio. Ema said that in addition to working on their action plans or carrying out other projects, the hub has served as a space for youth to connect with another by each giving different presentations or talks about different topics. And according to Johana, the space and efforts of the youth leaders has already had an impact throughout the community and municipality. “We’ve involved other people, institutions, and the actions that we are doing are now greater, I think,” Johana said, noting that public officials who form part of the local COCODEs, or community councils, in surrounding towns have complemented the group on the “great job” that they have been doing. “I think that it’s been a space that’s allowed for the community to also be involved,” she added. Building in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemicRight now, plans for the leaders of Uspantán for the growth of the hub are temporarily on hold, as are so many others throughout the world, due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing regulations put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guatemala currently has more than 4,000 cases of COVID-19 confirmed, and more than 60 deaths. In Uspantán, the first recorded case occurred several weeks ago, and residents have been under lockdown since then.* The network is still keeping up their work, though, despite quarantine. Julio said that they communicate by Whatsapp and try to organize video calls and chats once a week. The mostly rural communities of Uspantán face a significant risk due to the spread of COVID-19. In some places, Julio noted, it takes five hours to reach a hospital. Many of the smallholder farmers in the region are also suffering due to the economic restrictions imposed by the lockdown. Julio said that once they are able to, they want to meet again in person, and do more visits with young people in other communities in the area to follow up and listen to them. The long term vision for the hub, said Johana, is first and foremost to involve more young people in their network - especially those who live in more rural communities throughout Uspantán, far removed from Villa de San Miguel, the seat of the municipality. They also hope to one day see SERES Uspantán grow and solidify enough to be its own organization, which will maintain the ConeXpacio and manage its own funds while working to continue to listen to and support the youth in the region. “As young people, we have this space to be able to realize these activities that we can do, with which the youth can develop more their leadership, and can do so from a young age, from 12 years old, they can do something for their community. Because they have this capacity, it’s just that often they don’t have the space. So I think that this is the importance of opening this space, so that they can do something for their community,” Johana said. Emily Neil *Blog post published in June 2020. To this day - March 2021 - Guatemala has over 191K positive Covid-19 cases confirmed. 
Local Leaders know the way forward - it's time we listened to them
We are often asked how we see leadership in SERES and it’s not a term we associate with power, authority and status, for us it’s all about the individuals next to us, our neighbors, our friends, the boy and the girl, raising their voice where they didn’t have one before. As we mention in our theory of change “We share a leadership that is distinct from that which has brought us here and shaped the predominant worldview. It is based on an understanding of the world that is deeply rooted in our common humanity, our connection to each other, and our connection to this Earth. It is a leadership that is committed to working authentically, inclusively and transformatively, taking responsibility for fellow human beings and translating it into actions to create a future that we can all live with.”Now with COVID, I have read so many blogs and articles addressing the importance of local leaders, written from a desk in the north about the work on the Global South. More and more we are starting to see that international organizations that were leading big development projects in the region have left or have put their projects on hold. This has left the local organizations and leaders to respond urgently to the needs raised from COVID and the exacerbated social issues our communities are facing.  I truly believe in the importance of local leaders because I am a local leader, I was given the opportunity to develop my capacities and leadership and I am doing all I can to contribute to social change in my country and its communities. All these I see in SERES, opening spaces for people that were not born with opportunities at their doorstep, and support them to develop their capacities, knowledge and attitudes to be resilient local leaders. Now more than ever, we need solutions to the wicked problems we are facing, but rural and marginalized communities have been facing them for decades. And the development sector has finally recognized that they are the right people to be leading and addressing the challenges.Let me tell you that they are already doing it, and when given the tools, skills and opportunities to become leaders they do it authentically, inclusively and transformatively.Look at Flor, a kakchiquel leader in Tecpán, started her leadership journey in 2016 and is now an entrepreneur, local influencer and change agent. She has started Granja Chi Siwan as a small business with her family to produce and sell organic local products and during COVID began teaching, alongside her brother, other families in her community how to build, design and develop organic gardens. Another leader that WOW’s me is Steven, he belonged to a community displaced by the eruption of Fuego in 2018, and is now in the new resettlement called La Dignidad. Steven started his leadership journey in 2015, and is now influencing other young people from La Dignidad to join forces in creating a “community”. This term was difficult for him to define as his - community - was destroyed, and now with a different vision and a group of engaged youth, he is redefining this term with small concentrated actions to engage neighbors, adults, kids and young people in new initiatives. I can’t imagine societies and communities without these leaders, they/we are the ones that are creating the change we need and we want to see. Please become a champion for local leaders in every space you can. Become an ally and share their stories to inspire others. I will continue to support and open spaces so many more of these young people can transform our communities and I want to invite you to join me in this challenge. Will you?If you are interested in becoming a SERES Champion please contact me at info@seres.orgSara Hurtarte - SERES coExecutive Director

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

June 2021
21st Century Skills in Latin America and the Caribbean
September 2020
Inner Trip Reiyukai International - Casa Maya
November 2015
2015 UNESCO-Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development
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