In March, a group of Renaissance employees had the chance to visit a local school in the Dominican Republic with the help of AmStar. Part of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation after Cuba. Around 10 million people live on the island.
Education in the Dominican Republic differs a little bit from how we group education in the United States. In the Dominican Republic, it is divided into four stages—preschool education, primary education, secondary education, and higher education. Centro Educativo Escuela Cabeza de Toro, the school that Renaissance employees chose to visit, is a public school located in the sector of Cabeza de Toro, Veron – Punta Cana and one of the primary schools on the island. There are around 185 students ages 6–16 who attend the school. Close to a hotel on the island, the school is popular with hotel staff and their children.
As a public school, Centuro Educativo Escuela Cabeza de Toro suffers from inadequate funding and assistance. The school itself needs a number of repairs and is short-staffed—making it difficult to create a learning environment for students. Swings are unusable, walls are cracked and crumbling, and wires hang out of the ceiling.
Knowing about the upcoming trip, a few members of the Renaissance marketing team worked with students at Mineral Point Unified School District near Madison, WI, to write letters to the students at Centruro Educativo Escuela Cabeza de Toro. The letters detailed life in Wisconsin and were inserted into Spanish-to-English dictionaries that were donated, along with other essential school supplies. While writing letters for the students in the Dominican Republic, the students at Mineral Point got to learn more about the Dominican Republic.
Building up to the trip, a GoFundMe was created to raise funds. Renaissance employees helped raise more than $7,000 and Renaissance matched it for a total of $14,000!
Then, on March 6, the group went to go visit the school to meet teachers and students. Renaissance provided a pizza lunch to the teachers and students and distributed the letters, Spanish-to-English dictionaries, and essential school supplies. In addition, three members of the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education came to the meet-and-greet. The Ministry of Education regulates primary education in the Dominican Republic and helps ensure youth on the island attend some sort of schooling.
After lunch, the check for more than $14,000 that was raised from the GoFundMe effort was presented to the principal at Centuro Educativo Escuela Cabeza de Toro. The principal appreciated the donation, which he originally thought was for 14,000 Dominican pesos—less than $300—but was moved to tears when he discovered the donation was worth more than 708,000 pesos.
The donation will be used to fund much-needed repairs to the school. In talking with the principal, he expressed the need for more teachers. So, with some support, he will be able to hire at least two new teachers for the remainder of the school year. But it doesn’t stop there. Renaissance will continue to support Centuro Educativo Escuela Cabeza de Toro by funding Internet access and providing Renaissance solutions and computers free of charge to the school as we truly work to accelerate learning for all, worldwide.