Streethearts

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Streethearts

Cap-Haitien, HaitiCap-Haitien, Haiti
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Streethearts is a change agent for street children, helping to redirect the course of their lives. We offer programs based on the child’s stage of life; enabling them to learn and live a productive, healthy lifestyle, resulting in a positive contributing member of society.

 

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if street childen could be educated and empowered to return to their communities and create successful businesses, bringing economic stability to their neighborhoods?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The street kid population throughout the Caribbean is at the root of the poverty challenge. With this population increasing daily – street children will continue to populate, crime will continue to rise, and communities will continue to break down. There are thousands of street children in Haiti alone, and hundreds of thousands throughout the Caribbean, left to fend for themselves with no hope of making a positive impact in their communities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The foundation of Streethearts is based on an innovative model, taking each boy from childhood through young adulthood, and providing what is fundamentally needed along the way. We don’t believe in institutionalizing children as a mass group. Each child has an individualized life plan. The key to self-improvement starts with each child’s acceptance of who they are and their specific goal/plan for their future. The confidence that is developed in each child comes from stability and security. From the moment we address them by name (instantly provides a feeling of self-worth since this is rarity), we begin the road to earning their trust. Recognition is critical during initial interaction.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

I was a street kid in Haiti. If you had asked me how old I was 3 years ago, I couldn’t tell you. I made my living by begging on the streets. I am one of the lucky ones, because I am alive. In my first few weeks at Streethearts, I helped a group of foreigners build a school. It was the first time I felt that I was important, that I could make an impact. I have a family at Streethearts that loves and encourages me every day. I will never forget where I came from, and that’s why I can impact my community. I understand poverty first hand. My name is John Caesar and I now know that I am 16. I am studying to become a lawyer. If you call me a "street kid" I will not answer. I do not know that life anymore. I am focused on my future.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We currently serve over 70 boys. Three years ago 100% of these boys were malnourished with no medical treatment. Today, all of these boys receive annual physicals. For the first time, over 50 street children are now being educated. Our boys are taught how to care for themselves by doing chores, the idea being that it is their home, they have to do their part. Each child must complete community service hours. In addition, 40% of the boys in our work program are directly serving the community. 20% of our boys are earning an income. The change in social landscape starts here. Our boys now go into the community to encourage more street kids.These kids are much more inclined to listen to those who can identify with their current lifestyle. Not only do we hope for these young leaders to one day run more facilities, but to also become change agents for Haiti in whatever career they pursue.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our large scale strategy is to replicate our current model in 3 additional areas heavily populated by street children. We plan to expand throughout the Caribbean, focusing on dense populations of gang-focused activity/street children. Our employment model is innovative. We look for employees that have had a similar background, and have overcome that way of life. We hire locally, focusing on individuals with good community ties. Community acceptance is key. Our growth is driven internally. We want to give the community a sense of pride that we created this together.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We currently rely on donations and grants. We know what is needed to run a shelter to it’s full potential. We plan to replicate the model and the fundraising budget for each location as we grow. We will identify fundraisers and board members strategically focused on each location. We hope to gain sponsors that will fund small businesses to employee our older boys. If this goal is met, these businesses would ideally become revenue generators.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many focus on a specific area; education or employment. We offer the complete spectrum. The development of a child relies on stability and the value of “family”. For a child to flourish they need to have basic needs met. We currently partner with non-profits locally. We do not want to re-create the wheel, rather we want to promote collaboration. Our children enter our program by choice. I spent time in their environment, earning their trust before I was given the privilege to provide care. Learning the culture and environment takes time and patience, but is essential.
Team

Founding Story

When I arrived in Haiti, I would run in the evening. I kept stumbling upon a group of boys. They would tease me at first. I asked them their names and if they would run with me. They didn’t know their ages, so I made them up. Before long, if they were in danger, they would come find me, trusting that I would get them proper care. Afterward, they pulled their money together to buy me popcorn. I knew then that they were my kids. I began to ask the kids if they wanted shelter. All I could offer at the time was a shower and a clean bed – but it was enough. Three years later, here we are. I live for these kids. I will do what it takes to see them achieve what they are working so hard to become.

Team

Our organization is made up of 4 teams: Each with a Director, Manager, Entry-level and intern. The teams are: Safety/Security, Child Wellbeing, Workforce Development and Education. Entry-level positions are part-time (soccer coach, basketball coach, tutors, etc.) Our Board of Directors is focused on our current location. As we grow, we plan to bring on board members that are passionate about a specific area of the Caribbean. We choose members based on their expertise in building start-ups, fundraising, and child development. We also look for local community leaders to help give us insight regarding culture and common legal practice.