Common Hope was established by Dave and Betty Huebsch in 1986. Motivated by a desire to help the poor, Dave and Betty made the difficult decision to leave family, friends, and a peaceful lifestyle in Minnesota to see what they could offer the people of Guatemala. Their attention soon became focused on the remote village of Santiago Atitlán, where 40,000 people lived in stark poverty. When they asked parents in the village how they could best be helped, parents expressed a great yearning to educate their children so they might have a path to a better future.
The early years: education access
The Huebsch family formed Common Hope to help parents send their children to school, finding caring individuals in the U.S. willing to sponsor the cost of the children’s education. At the height of the civil war, Common Hope’s efforts were forced to stop in Santiago, and the family returned to the U.S. In 1990, Common Hope was relocated to the Antigua valley, where it was safer to work yet the need was still great. John Huebsch, Dave and Betty’s son, began serving as Common Hope’s executive director, a position he held until 2006.
Expansion to health care, housing, and family development
Common Hope expanded its programs in the 1990s to include health care, housing, and social work support for students and their families. While the heart of our work remained education, we understood that a child’s success in school required more than books and uniforms — a child’s success depends on his or her family’s health, safety, and stability. An integrated, multidisciplinary set of programs was developed to help families meet immediate needs so they could work toward their long-term goals of a better life — including a high school degree for their children.
The future: education quality
Through our work over the years, Common Hope has recognized another key to a child’s success is the quality of education he or she receives. Because of this, we began to influence education more directly in Guatemala. In 2005, we opened New Hope School, built and run by Common Hope, where student promotion rates and standardized test scores have consistently outperformed national averages. In 2008, we initiated partnerships with local public schools to support and enhance their efforts. We began to help teachers implement more interactive, engaging curriculum, and to provide more individualized support to students at-risk of dropping out. We plan to expand these school partnerships in the years to come.
Today, Common Hope serves more than 11,000 impoverished children and adults in 26 communities outside of Antigua and Guatemala City.