We create relationship-centered language education
by connecting language learners and mothers in Zone 3 of Guatemala City
to collectively transform our stories, our hearts, and our world.
We envision a world where every language student has access to relationship-centered language education, and where every mom has access to safe and sustainable work.
WHERE WE WORK
In the Guatemala City Garbage Dumpsite, the average woman earns between $3-$5 in a 10-12 hour work day sorting through trash for recyclable materials and risking physical harm in numerous ways. In other areas of the dumpsite economy, women often earn even less engaging in other forms of dangerous work. In a community already facing widespread socio-economic exclusion and educational inequities, for women, these challenges are coupled with systemic, gender-based violence. 43% of mothers in Zone 3 are single moms.
The day that COVID-19 hit Guatemala, a group of freshmen at Georgetown University launched Project Olas. The closure of the Guatemala City dumpsite disrupted life for 40,000 individuals reliant upon that economy.
The idea of Olas unfolded through the legacies of two moms. Our founder, Rebecca lost her mother to cancer at the age of 10. But at 16, she left small town Maine for the first time for a year abroad.
The connection she formed with her host mom, Isabel, changed her life. She ended up staying abroad a second year, dropping out of American high school, and graduating instead from a local public school taught entirely in Spanish. Arriving at Georgetown from this experience, she was adamant that education built upon textbooks can teach us, but education centered in relationships will transform us. Partnering with Creamos, a local organization in Zone 3, and working in collaboration with a team of mothers, Olas took flight.
In our first year, we served nearly 1000 language students and more than 50 Spanish classrooms in 22 educational institutions across the country and globally. We've grown a network of 27+ club chapters for advocacy and community all the way from Camden, Maine to Seattle, Washington. Olas has made it to the TEDx stage, and taken home nationally acclaimed prizes. We earned a spot on DC Inno's 25 Under 25 list of innovators for 2020, and our founder was named Georgetown University's Entrepreneur of the Year for 2021.
Our Partnership On the Ground
Creamos' mission is to create opportunities for women living in the communities surrounding the Guatemala City Garbage Dump through an inclusive approach to lifelong financial, emotional and physical stability. They seek to open the doors of opportunities for sustainable employment for women in Zone 3 as well as foster their self-care. Creamos helps to connect us with moms Zone 3, who choose to join Olas as seños, as they're known here at Olas.
Additional ways to join the Olas community:
Would you like to take lessons but the financial barrier is too high? Fill out this form for financial assistance.
Become an Olas Ambassador
Help Olas grow, join a community of passionated individuals, and enjoy exclusive rewards that double down on social impact!
Start a Club Olas Chapter
Passionate about language learning and social impact? Form or join a tight-knit community on your campus, and connect nationwide with our 27+ chapters from Maine to Washington.
While Project Olas is a sustainable social enterprise, we later launched the Olas Foundation to further our social impact. Your donations help to promote tech accessibility, professional development, and Olas language scholarships for lower income students. All donations are tax deductible.