Cambio Creativo believes in the power of education and its lasting effect on individuals, communities, and societies. Currently we offer after-school education to a cohort of 24 students in Buena Vista and Coco Solo between first and sixth grade. We specifically focus on math and literacy reinforcement, as well as ensuring that students understand and complete their homework. Students also participate in workshops covering a variety of topics, including computer skills, art, music, storytelling, sports, farming techniques, history and geography. These workshops led by professional educators, scholars, and volunteers from Panama and abroad promote cross-cultural exchanges, personal empowerment, experiential education, and community service. Students who participate in the after-school program also receive supplemental nutrition and are invited to participate in youth empowerment and development initiatives. Cambio Creativo also offers small stipends to eligible students to help cover costs associated with their higher education needs, including registration fees and transportation costs.
Cambio Creativo’s community development program encompasses a variety of activities and focus areas. Our organization serves as a bridge between community members and employment, training, nutritional, recreational, housing and alternative educational opportunities. Currently, we connect youth over age 18 with job trainings and employment opportunities. We are also cultivating a group of youth who are participating in entrepreneurship workshops and a leadership development initiative called Jóvenes Luchadores. Additionally, we offer a supplemental nutrition program three days a week in Coco Solo for students participating in the after-school program as well any resident who needs a plate of food. Recently, we partnered with Courts for Kids to build a multi-purpose basketball court with the Buena Vista community and students from the University of Oregon. As the Coco Solo community transitions from the barracks to housing units in Buena Vista, Cambio Creativo has served as a community advocate in meetings with government officials. Once the move to Buena Vista is finalized, we will continue working with the Coco Solo community as well as surrounding neighborhoods to continue offering our services and programs. Because our main goal is to provide the community with tools and resources to fulfill their basic needs and pursue opportunities for growth and improvement, we hope to implement a microfinance program in the next five years.
Our Spiritual and Community Affairs Director Michael Brown works to address not only physical and educational needs, but also the spiritual and emotional aspects of their lives. For nearly two decades Pastor Brown has used faith and open dialogue to ease tensions, promote understanding and alternatives to violence within the Coco Solo community. As the community transitions to Buena Vista, interfaith dialogue will play an important role in the integration of Coco Solo residents with current Buena Vista neighbors, many of whom have lived in the area for decades. Through open dialogues with faith and community leaders, our goal is to create a coalition of leaders to jointly promote peaceful relations and ease potential tensions among all Buena Vista residents, as well offer spaces through which the community can come together regardless of race, creed, denomination, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age or physical or mental ability to discuss, share and promote the values and bonds that unite us as a people.