Thursday, December 26, 2013

¡Feliz Navidad!

This past weekend we celebrated Christmas as a Starfish family.  As a way to give back this holiday season, our scholars hosted a party for their younger brothers and sisters so they could enjoy some Christmas cheer.



Money is tight for a lot of Starfish families, and this is especially tough around the holidays.  To help out, our scholars helped raise some money to buy toys for their siblings.  They also prepared a dance, face painting, contests and much more so that everyone could have a great time.


Best of all, our students lived out the true spirit of Christmas - giving of themselves so that their siblings could enjoy a day of Christmas fun!

On Monday & Tuesday the students got to enjoy their own mini Christmas celebration with all of the new friends they made this year at Starfish.  It was a time of reflection, dancing, games and fun for all.

One of the icebreakers: look in this box and tell us what you see
- Hint: it's the best gift God has given us (you!)

¡Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Tutoring = Better Grades and More Fun!

For the month of December we decided to experiment with adding an extra day of "Refuerzo" or Tutoring in each neighborhood in response to parent suggestions during our latest round of evaluations.  So far, it's been a huge success!!

An extra day of tutoring means more time to dedicate the school subjects that our Scholars find difficult.  Our "Ayudantes" or employees have been busy helping students review some tough material so that the next time they have exams they're all set to get even better grades!

Employee Tyrone presenting to the morning group in Flor
This has also allowed us more time for the group presentations on topics important to teens that we told you about in last week's blog.

Lili & Milena
Dayanna presenting on Effects of Drug Use
Since it's December we've also used the time to bring some Christmas joy to our classroom space too - everything pictured below is hand-made by our Starfish Scholars!!

Happy Holidays a little early from all of us at Starfish!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tutoring update - Group Presentations!

At Starfish we not only give scholarships, but we promote a well-rounded education for our students.   One way we do this is through a new activity we started a few weeks ago during our tutoring sessions.  In addition to the regular homework assigned by their schools, each table was assigned a topic to research and later present to the rest of their classmates.

Cristhian, Dayanna, Samantha and Anthony
The first set of topics dealt with some very important topics to today's youth - dangers and prevention of drug use, as well as puberty, sexuality, etc.  Over the course of 2 weeks 1 group presented each day, with an open discussion afterwards to answer any other questions.

This presentations serve another purpose as well - it's a great chance to practice research and public speaking skills in a friendly environment.


Each month we will assign new topics so that our students continue to learn from each other and excel in the classroom!

Ariana, Cristhian, Dayanna, Anthony

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Starfish Incentives: Field Trip to the Pool!!!

Maria, Juliana and Dayanna
At the end of the first semester of school, we rewarded those students who achieved at least a "B" average with a field trip to the pool!

Pamela, Yuliana, Geovanny, Cynthia, Joel, Nagelhi and Genesis!
Our goal is that all Starfish scholars will achieve at least a B average by the end of their first year with Starfish.  Last year, 32% of of our scholars achieved at least a B average.  This year after the first semester, 54% of Starfish Scholars, and 61% of all of the students we work with are have a B average through the first semester.

Gema, Arelisa, Eddy, Abigail, Milena, Cristhian and Pamela
This increase in grades is due in large part to the help of our 6 part-time employees or "ayudantes".

Starfish Employees Jasmin and Karina

Check out some more pictures from the fun-filled day at the pool!

Sofia, Briggette and Andreina

Cristhian and Pamela

Scholars Joel and Geovanny with Employees Yuliana, Cynthia and Marcos

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#GivingTuesday is TODAY!

Today is #GivingTuesday - Donate to the Starfish Giving Tuesday campaign to support these scholars and more for the upcoming school year.

Our campaign this year is Thanksgiving-themed, encouraging people to give $25 or the amount you would spend on a Thanksgiving pie to support education and youth empowerment in Ecuador.

"Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways, it can change someone else's life forever." ~ Margaret Cho

"Freedom can only come through education." ~ Eugenio Espejo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Starfish!

Without Starfish, finishing high school is only a dream for many of our students.  High costs and other necessities often create the sad reality that education just cannot be a priority.  But our students know that the way to break that cycle is to finish their studies.  This Thanksgiving, help us help them make their dreams come true.  Making a donation to our campaign is easy, just click here!

While we all celebrate with our families today, we suggest spreading that gratitude by donating the amount you would spend on a Thanksgiving pie.  Any amount makes a difference!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our Scholars receive a lesson in First Aid

For our November monthly meeting, Starfish mom, Narcisa (mother of Scholarship recipient Marlon) shared with us some great knowledge on first aid.  We learned all about vital signs, how to act in an emergency situation, how to read a thermometer, how to check our pulses, various ways to give shots, etc.

Narcisa giving her presentation on first aid!
Our Scholars were eager to learn about ways they can help out when someone in their family is sick.  This is just one more way our scholars learn to lead and learn to give back.  Speaking of giving back - don't forget that as you shop this holiday season, don't forget to shop via amazon using the following link: - 0.5% of your purchase total will be donated to Starfish with no additional cost to you!!

Check out the pictures below to see the first aid lesson in action!

Steve checking his pulse!

Narcisa showing Maria and Jerson how to read a thermometer.

Marcos helping Narcisa demonstrate what to do if we find someone unconscious or otherwise in trouble.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday, Starfish!

This past Saturday, November 9th, Starfish celebrated it's 2nd birthday!  We are so thankful for all the support we've received over the past 2 years, and so excited for what is to come.  Check out our most recent newsletter for a look back on what we've accomplished over the past two years:

And don't forget about our current campaign.  This year for #GivingTuesday our goal is to raise $2000 to kick-off our fundraising for the 2014 school year.  Giving Tuesday is a movement to create a national day of giving to kick off the giving season added to the calendar on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Starfish is honored to participate for the second year in a row, and we hope to count on YOU for support!  Share this campaign with your friends today!

Our scholars thank you for all that you do!! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A day in the life of Maria's week off from school!

Maria had a great time during school break a few weeks ago and today she shares with us a little bit about how she spent her time!

"During my vacation, I had a great time.  I went out almost every day until almost 10pm and the good part about that is that I was with people that I love - my cousins Andy and Luis and my family, and the best because God was always with me.  Also, Sunday we started practicing for my Quinceañera (15th birthday) and so far I like the choreography, I don't about the others.

And during vacation I was also on facebook because I could talk to my friends from school since it was 2 weeks that I hadn't seen them.  My best friends are:
Sofia - I did see her during my Quinceañera practica, I love her a lot
Kenia - I love her so much!
Melli, Betza, Moises, Joel, Anell, Nadia, Andy, Jean Carlos, Jonathan, Leonel, Joss Yaritza, Antony, Andy Mauricio, Steven, Leo, Joselin, Genesis, Wellington, Alana, Boris, Efren, Erick.

They are my best friends.  With them I have done a lot of crazy fun things, we've done a lot of cool things.  We've been through the good and the bad but the most important thing is that they've never failed me, I don't know why, maybe because they love me like I love them.
I also had a great time at Starfish because we were learning with the volunteers and Jenny."

Maria working on an art project at Starfish during vacation!

"Yo en mis vacaciones bueno yo la pase super, salía casi todos los días como hasta las 10:00 o más de la noche y lo bueno es porque estaba con personas quiero, mis primos Andy y Luis y mi familia y lo mejor porque siempre estaba conmigo Dios.  Y también el Domingo tuvimos que estar ensayando para lo de mi quinceañera y bueno a mí hasta ahora si me gusta los paso no se a los demás.

Y en mis vacaciones yo también he estado en el facebook ya que en el puedo conversar con mis amigos ya que tenía dos semanas que no los había visto entre ellos los mas importantes:
Sofia - pues a ella la vi en los ensayos, y la quiero mucho
Kenia: A ella yo la amo mucho, la quiero mucho
Melli, Betza, Moises, Joel, Anell, Nadia, Andy, Jean Carlos, Jonathan, Leonel, Joss, Yaritza, Antony, Andy Mauricio, Steven, Leo, Joselin, Genesis, Wellington, Alana, Boris, Efren, Erick.

Son unos de mis mejores amigos/amigas.  Ya que con ellos yo he pasado muchas locuras junto a ellos he hecho muchas cosas cheveres.  He pasado cosas buenas y malas con ellos pero lo importante es que ellos nunca me han fallado porque no se que será me quieren más o como yo los quiero por eso puede ser.  Y también pasé super ya que nos queda más con los voluntarios y Jenny aprendiendo."

Maria and Starfish friends at the pool!