Families with students at our schools value education much more than previously. The village around Escuela Marina Orth now has 250 families on Facebook!

Attitudes have shifted. A few years ago the role models of wealth and power the children saw were based on violence, guns and drugs. This is no longer true.

Drug use and teen pregnancies are down significantly at Escuela Marina Orth.

At our rural school we have parents  studying English on a weekly basis. We have families from the center of town trying to put their children in our school — enrollment has climbed steadily.

A number of our graduates are now continuing on to university study, with the help of scholarships from us and our partners — an unthinkable dream just a few years ago. Others are studying at technological vocational schools.

We have concluded an agreement with SENA, Colombia’s national vocational training system, to use some of their students to assist us and our students. We also have instituted a graphics design computer course taught by SENA, aided by a donation of computers with 3D capacity from Hewlett Packard for 10th and 11th-grade students of the Rural Educational Institution Marina Orth and a group of 20 adults of the community of the Colegio Camino de Paz of Fundación Las Golondrinas.

One of our top English-speaking students, 15-year-old Yuliana Quintero, was chosen by the American Embassy in Bogota to visit the U.S. for three weeks in late 2010, as a member of the highly selective worldwide Young Ambassadors program. She now has a Power Point presentation of her experience which she presents to groups and other schools. She is becoming a youth leader in her own right.

One of our most positive developments has been the steadily increasing level of cooperation displayed by the national, regional, and local branches of the Colombian government, as well as the response from Colombia’s private sector. The Secretary of Education of Medellin has modernized the physical plant of Marina Orth with a new kitchen and science lab. We have received conventional computers for the upper grades and 84 new Classmate computers by Intel donated by the Ministerio de Educación Nacional. We are partners with Fraternidad Medellin, a group of leading industrialists, in a new rural project. Thanks to these examples of foresight and generosity, the Marina Orth Foundation now has five major projects ready for 2011 to serve 2,100 more children.

Today, the Colombian financing is in place to create a technology-oriented middle and high school in El Carmen de Viboral for 900, a public primary school for 260 in Mesopotamia, Antioquia, and a 660 student K-8 charter school in Medellín, Las Golondrinas, serving a very poor, largely displaced population from the Chocó.

Foundation Marina Orth has been invited to present our project to the country via the President’s National Plan for Social Prosperity launched at a televised official event on March 15-16 of 2011.

Maureen Orth is serving on the Advisory Board for the group that is launching Teach for Colombia, based on the model of Teach for America.