“I feel more prepared to give the best of myself…thanks SERES for creating an atmosphere of
confidence and hope for the young men and women with whom I share a future…”
SERES | A Year in Review
An Exponential Success Dear Friends,
Highlights 2013 1st place! National environment prize awarded for SERES youth action plan
17 new local facilitators trained for SERES programs
60 future makers came together for our annual Youth Sustainability Summit
500+ new youth leaders and change makers joined the SERES movement
With the pressure of a looming deadline aside, I always find writing the annual report to be a joyful experience as it provides an opportunity to step from micro to macro, to take a deep breath, and just remember why it is that we do what we do. As has been the case for the last 4 years, SERES has grown exponentially in 2013. Staff members, youth leaders, programs, t-shirts, income, expenses and Facebook posts – whatever aspect you look at, it has all doubled over the last 12 months. That growth has meant fresh horizons, more work, new challenges…but it has one very important consequence that is our reason to celebrate this holiday season.
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SERES | A YEAR IN REVIEW
Changing lives. Transforming communities.
One young leader at a time Local leaders connected globally. Accelerating actions towards a sustainable future. The last 12 months here in Central America have been particularly raw. Massive environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change can be seen on all sides. These two factors – affecting both people and place – are exacerbating the cycle of poverty and destroying one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. SERES strategy, however, is not without reason, and our work on youth empowerment and sustainability leadership through environmental education and awareness is having an impact.
Why? Because between Guatemala and El Salvador, there are more than 15 million people aged under 30! For the first time in the history of this region, the future lies in the hands of one generation.
And we see this as an opportunity not to be missed! The challenge is awakening this generation. From the beginning – five years now! – SERES has focused on local initiatives to heal ecosystems and promote environmental sustainability. However, over the years it has become ever more apparent that our work goes much deeper than this, and is healing scars left on individuals, families and communities from a civil war that raged for almost 30 years. SERES works with a generation who were born on the cusp of the signing of the peace accords. Many of them have family members who disappeared or were killed during the civil war, they carry in some way the physical, emotional and sometimes psychological
SERES | A YEAR IN REVIEW
“The majority of young people are struggling with poverty, domestic violence, gender discrimination and gang-related problems.
There are few opportunities to lift your head.” scars of this conflict. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to realize that speaking out, expressing your dreams and ideas, standing up or engaging in discussion or debate is not something that has been encouraged.
What’s Up? New sustainability leadership programs to develop leadership and boost employability of SERES youth leaders Working with another 500 young people, with additional capacity-building workshops to support community initiatives and action plans Launch of the SERES Embassy – a co-creative space where local change makers can interact, learn and collaborate with other social entrepreneurs and leaders Training of another 20 local facilitators who will run more SERES programs and mentor more youth leaders
The majority of young people are struggling with poverty, domestic violence, gender discrimination and gangrelated problems. There are few opportunities to lift your head and look a little further down the road.
Yet despite these conditions, our youth leaders – through their attitudes and action plans – are transforming this reality and breathing new hope into their communities! SERES gives young people the opportunity to come together to learn and grow in a safe place where they can begin to discover their voice, to wake up and come alive. A space where they can begin to question, think, dream and hope, and where they can work with their peers to discuss ideas and start working together to achieve the future that they want. Working with these young people, we watch them transform into leaders and advocates, into passionate, purposeful and committed citizens, into change agents and future makers. And by investing in this generation, we know that we are making an investment towards a healthy, thriving and peaceful society – not just for these youth, but for young people around the world for generations to come. 3
SERES | A YEAR IN REVIEW
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In fact, MORE youth participated in our programs in 2013 than in the ENTIRE TIME since SERES began working in youth leadership development. That’s 500 more young leaders – future makers – who are actively working to transform their communities and create a healthy, thriving society for generations to come. This year for the Annual Report we thought we would share a little from everyone on the SERES team. I asked them to tell us: what is your biggest highlight from 2013, and what are you most excited about for the year ahead? You can read their responses over the page. It’s pretty heart-warming to hear what they have to say and know that you are a part of this team – no, how did Antonio put it? Family, that’s right! Personally, I am excited to continue working with this dynamic, passionate and appreciative team that is so enthusiastic about our work and the impact we are having. I am excited about continuing to hold space for dialogue and discussion and help young people find their voice and express their ideas, hopes and concerns. I am excited to continue to watch their advocacy and leadership unfold…to blossom and flourish and inspire others. But most of all, I am just excited, humbled and grateful to be part of it all; to know that I am a part of the solution, helping to create a healthy, sustainable society for ourselves, and generations to come.
Happy Holidays, and an even happier New Year! The SERES Team
Supporting ecological resilience and environmental sustainability
Testimonials “I hope to continue being a part of this grand movement, SERES!” “SERES is my greatest school, where I learn with deeds not words…” “The most impactful moment for me was being able to share my ideas with others…” “My experience was incredible…I learnt about the importance of caring for our planet, of working as a team so that we can change – perhaps not the whole world – but yes, a part of the world.” “This experience was unforgettable, as were the facilitators. These 3 days were like no experience I have ever had before!” “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this team and for the unconditional support you give to our youth. I am proud to be a member of SERES!”
SERES | A YEAR IN REVIEW
Abigail Quic – Regional Facilitator, Guatemala I think we have had so many achievements this year, but one of the highlights was definitely the Youth Sustainability Summit. Being able to have so many young people together, collaborating with other local organizations, the opportunity for our new facilitators to practice their skills, creating a learning community amongst SERES youth leaders – it’s all part of the success. On a personal note, achieving my goal of running 10 congresses in Guatemala has been such a learning journey and with each congress my belief in the power and potential of SERES and my own selfconfidence grows. What excites me about 2014? Definitely the opening of the SERES Embassy, and having a learning and demonstration space where the SERES team can work together, and we can also host youth. This will be such a learning experience for everyone, and I am excited about the chance to take on more responsibility and manage the embassy. It makes me happy because I know I am stepping-up and becoming ever more committed!
Antonio Cruz Sanchez – Regional Facilitator, El Salvador The Facilitator training was one of my highlights for 2013 – a huge achievement that helped SERES to grow as a family. Now I
don’t feel so isolated working in El Salvador. SERES now has a strong presence in both countries, and each day I feel the support and empowerment of these young leaders. The other big achievement for me was one of the action plans winning a national environmental prize in El Salvador. More than 50% of the members of the Environmental Round Table are SERES graduates, and their work is being recognized across the country. This is also generating more interest from local government in SERES programs. This is something that I am really excited about for 2014, as we continue to develop partnerships and work with more youth so that we can take our work to a national level.
Javier Borrayo – Media and Communications The Youth Sustainability Summit was simply fabulous – the fact that young people from remote rural communities could learn about permaculture, sustainable building, solar energy and so many other themes – amazing! For next year, I’m excited that we will be working with just as many youth, but offering more capacity-building workshops such as the summit – it is so valuable the kind of things that these youth are learning not just about leadership but also about science and sustainability. That excites me. I’m also excited about how SERES is pushing the boundaries as an organization – moving away from traditional models and looking at how we can become sustainable in all aspects.
Investing in our future We have had a year that we are so proud of, and we hope you can be too. We are so grateful to share this success with you because we believe these types of stories demonstrate that your investment is paying off. Truthfully, your ongoing advocacy and loyal support is having a direct impact – on reducing environmental degradation and socioeconomic affects on the people of Guatemala and El Salvador, on developing leaders that can help build a more resilient and sustainable future, and perhaps most importantly on cocreating the kind of healthy, thriving society that our children and grandchildren can prosper in. We’re working together to be part of the solution, and that’s something worth celebrating. Thanks for being with us!
Corrina Grace SERES Founder December 2013
SERES | A YEAR IN REVIEW
GENERAL INCOME Foundations $38,750
SERES 5ta Avenida Sur, #25A San Juan del Obispo, Antigua Guatemala www.projectseres.org
EXPENDITURE Fundraising, $830
SERES Annual Report. For more information visit www.projectseres.org