Glasswing International runs holistic youth development programs in 12 countries that include aspects of education, economic empowerment, social emotional learning, mental health, and more. They are on a mission to address the causes of poverty by giving young people the tools they need to make change. Learn more about their impressive programming here
How did you get the idea to start Glasswing International?
We started 15 years ago. I am one of three founders, and we started by volunteering and working in schools in El Salvador. It has since evolved into an organization that works in 12 countries. The idea was to expand the school day since students only attend school for half the day, and provide activities and positive role models for kids living in areas that are affected by violence and poverty. We work with young people to help them develop social emotional skills, create safe relationships, explore employment opportunities, and increase access to mental health care. We believe all kids have the same potential but they don’t have access to the same opportunities, and we are working to bridge that gap.
Can you tell me about the benefits you see for students involved with Glasswing International?
The kids learn resilience, which is an extremely important quality. They learn to see themselves as individuals with agency who have the capability to make an impact. They have access to learning opportunities like robotics, debate, art, English, and more. In terms of mental health, we work on anxiety, isolation, understanding how stress affects them, and learning to cope with emotions. For those living in violence and poverty, it’s easy to stay in survival mode and never think about a future. Our kids are able to truly transform how they view themselves and what they want from their lives.
How do you select locations to run your programs, and where do you work now?
We identify communities that are facing marginalization and poverty, because kids living there don’t have access to the same opportunities as other kids that enable them to thrive. Our partners are critical in fulfilling our mission, so we work in places where we have access to great partners. We really believe in these kids and communities, and are dedicated to working with them. I’m from El Salvador, which is where we first started. We work in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Colombia. There is also a New York City program that works with migrant youth.
Can you share some success stories about working with governments?
We frequently work with governments in the countries where we have programs to share what we’ve learned and advocate for certain policies. Most commonly, we push to increase access to social emotional learning in education systems. We’ve teamed up with governments to plan how we can harness the passion of young people to help students in primary school who have suffered learning loss from the pandemic. We also do a lot of work in the mental health space, specifically training teachers, nurses, and doctors to manage their own stress and giving them tools to best support others.