CREATIVIty, ART & Social RESPONsibility
In January 2009, Andrea Keith and Lindsay Lavelle came together in Playa Sámara with a shared dream: to provide free, high-quality supplementary education to local youth. With just $2,000, art supplies, and a tiny library, they joined forces with Laura Ellington, founder of Intercultura language school, and Asociación CREAR was born.
Andrea and Lindsay began their work with a monthly stipend of $200 each, juggling multiple jobs to allow them to nurture CREAR's growth. Their first project, a January summer camp in El Torito and Samara, marked the beginning of something extraordinary. Thirty eager children joined on day one, a testament to the community's trust.
Following the success of the camp, they outlined their simple vision for the school year, they sought to offer one hour of "CREAR" to every grade each week within the two local public elementary schools. “CREAR” as an idea was still defining itself at this point, but each week the students of Sámara and El Torito elementary would receive one hour of free class at school thanks to Lindsay and Andrea. The young coordinators worked theater, art, the environment and dance into their classes. What began with humble beginnings in 2009 has expanded to eight weekly hours focused on English and Art per student, plus high school programs, scholarships, environmental education, girl's empowerment, day camps and larger scale community beautification efforts by 2023.
Inspired by the faith they felt from the community, Lindsay and Andrea looked for new ways to fund CREAR programs. They began by selling phone cards and hosted their first surf tournament, raising $1,800 to purchase bicycles which they would rent out as a way to earn money. As time went on they were able to find less labor intensive ways to secure funds. They later harnessed community volunteers and expanded their donor network for sustainable funding. With determination, they crafted a mission statement, logos, built a website, and ventured into the rewarding challenge of managing volunteers.
2010 brought a game-changing opportunity: funding from the prestigious Costa Rican Ministry of Culture program ProArtes. Despite a tight deadline, they were able to secure $16,000 in government grants. This money would enable 100 local children to embark on educational field trips across their homeland. This grant was transformational for CREAR and solidified its impact. To this day, these field trips remain legendary in the minds of the participants, many of them well into adulthood and now sending their own kids to participate in the same kinds of magical and impactful programs.
Year by year, and thanks to many dedicated and generous individuals making contributions small and large, CREAR expanded its programs, embracing preteens, teens, girls' empowerment, in-school assembly or ‘charla’ programs, environmental education, and Art and English classes. Despite many challenges, Andrea was able to move the program from a closet-sized office to a garage office to the Samara community center to the June Nickerson CREAR Learning Center, a beautiful space dedicated to youth education.
In 2023, with nearly 15 years of experience, the CREAR family continues to grow. Recently we have started to receive the first round of ‘second generation’ CREAR students. These kids are the children of former CREAR kids who participated in the early years of our program. We see the excitement and confidence of these young parents as a testament to the lasting impact of the programs. We look forward to having CREAR grandparents and even great-grandparents join our journey.
Whether you are a donor, volunteer, employee, beneficiary, or just a fan, thank you to all members of the CREAR family for your unique contributions, which have allowed this program to continue its valuable community work.
CREAR’s mission is to provide free, high-quality, supplementary educational opportunities for the youth of Playa Samara and El Torito while serving as a space for mutual cultural enrichment between its students and volunteers.
Our vision is a community of empowered, self-motivated, responsible, and employable individuals.
Our fundamental, underlying belief is that access to a quality education is a basic human
right that can change lives and transform
a country. Our multicultural team contributes
to the promotion of community development by exposing our local youth to opportunities for public service and civic engagement.
Our initiatives are born from collaboration
with our communities to provide educational and economic empowerment. Our work
is honest, transparent and ethical, committed to excellence. Our organization remains in constant reflection on how to best serve the needs of our people in order to create a stronger community.
Seek Sustained Alumni Growth, Support & Engagement:
We want to strengthen alumni involvement and foster opportunities for their continuous growth and development through three programs: The CREAR Alumni Scholarship Fund, the Career and College Counseling Program within the local high school and the Alumni Internship Program. We plan to double the number of recipients of the Alumni Scholarship annually, enabling 34 students to access university education by 2026. We hope to secure 2 alumni interns per semester, providing them with valuable experiences and reciprocity in the form of mentorship and work experience.
Strengthen Organizational Human Resources and Community Project Impact
We will establish a comprehensive transition plan for administrative staff departures to mitigate disruption caused by turnover, ensuring operational continuity and knowledge retention.
We will elevate the Community Projects Foreman's role to a year-round position, overseeing day-to-day facility operations and spearheading impactful community beautification initiatives. This strategic shift aims to ensure the lasting beauty of our projects, fostering ongoing community engagement and enabling a deeper, sustained impact on local parks and schools. By providing continuity in project maintenance, we aim to maximize the positive transformation of our community spaces, moving beyond repetitive efforts and fostering lasting improvements.
Improve the Quality of Regular Programming
We will Improve attendance at Sámara programs by exploring options to provide consistent transportation, ensuring greater accessibility for participants.
We will foster stronger relationships with parents through the organization of special community-building events, which may also contribute to alumni engagement initiatives.
We will reintroduce the charla (in-school assembly) program in local elementary schools, targeting the delivery of 4 engaging charlas across 3 schools (Samara, El Torito, SPS) by 2024.
Amplify Fundraising Impact
We will establish the CREAR Fundraising Committee which will work to expand the Concert for a Cause event, envisioning eventual integration of a pre-event online auction. We will additionally explore opportunities for local and international events to enhance visibility, boost donations, and consequently fortify program sustainability. Through diversified fundraising approaches, we aim to maximize our reach and impact in support of our organization's mission.
Optimize Space and Programs
Construct a second story for the existing CREAR office, expanding classroom capacity and unlocking potential for impactful new programs. This infrastructure enhancement seeks to optimize our space utilization and provide a platform for enriching educational offerings.
Through implementation of our programs, the dedication of the CREAR team and the generous help of our supporters both locally and abroad, we are actively working together to reach these milestones.
WHERE WE WORK
Asociación CREAR exists in the province of Guanacaste, where 39% of people live in poverty.
Students attending public schools in the area attend class for an average of 3-4 hours each day.
Most of these schools function with...
Little to no extra-curricular activities
Limited access to computers
Playa Sámara is a rural beach community on the coast of the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. While Guanacaste is commonly referred to as the “scenic jewel” of Costa Rica for its extraordinary beaches, small-town feel and friendly locals, it is also the poorest province in the country. 39% of the local people live in poverty amidst vast amounts of touristic wealth and a staggering cost of living.
The latest household survey conducted by the Instituto Nacional de Estatística y Censos de Costa Rica (INEC) found the unemployment rate in the Chorotega region, where Samara is located, to be 17 %, and 14.2% in the rest of Costa Rica.
Furthermore, only 21.4% of those in Sámara have attended secondary school education and higher, while 46% of those in Costa Rica have acquired at least a high school diploma. In combination, the unemployment rate and lack of education create a community in need of the supplementary educational endeavors provided by CREAR.
CREAR thrives on the utilization of a small, high-impact staff and a plethora of dependable volunteers to achieve its goal of promoting educational excellence in the youth of the Samara and El Torito communities. In addition to expanding our staff, in 2022 alone CREAR was fortunate enough to receive 8 interns from 4 different countries and over 200 short-term volunteers who dedicated their time and unique talents to the advancement of our organization as a whole.