Although Costa Rica is the most developed country in Central America, there exists a huge socioeconomic disparity between the well-developed, coastal regions and the rural, mountainous agricultural villages. The lack of educational opportunities is perhaps one of the most striking effects of this economic divide. Santa Cruz de León Cortés typifies this issue: the predominant source of income is coffee picking, a seasonal employment, with average salaries summing to less than $3,000 annually. Disillusioned with the lack of educational resources, many children of Santa Cruz inevitably settle into a lifelong career as coffee-pickers.
To address these problems, Amherst College student Caitlin Scudder founded Beyond el Campo, creating the first public library in Santa Cruz and developing literacy camps and workshops to promote a community of learning. Working alongside local community leaders, she determined that a public space dedicated to encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and creative development would breathe new life and inspiration into the community. She united the local community, Reader to Reader, a non-profit based in Amherst, MA, and a group of eager Amherst College students to realize her goal.
Fast-forward two years and there is a library open in Santa Cruz, a Language School, realistic plans for expansion and a well-established relationship with the community. Click the links on the right to learn more about who we are and what we do!