Earthquake Response
ADE was founded in October 2009, as a response to the Cinchona earthquake (6.4 on the Richter scale) that occurred in January of 2009, with the desire to assist in redeveloping the affected communities. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, a census of the village of San Rafael revealed that the number one priority of the local community was to develop more educational options for young people and adults.

With this information in hand, ADE began focusing on three neighboring villages in the northern-central mountains of Costa Rica: Vara Blanca, San Rafael de Vara Blanca and Los Cartagos. This area has been traditionally marginalized by the rest of the country and subsequently suffers economically, socially and educationally. These villages were impacted by the Cinchona earthquake that destroyed much of the local infrastructure (roads, houses, churches, schools, etc.) and killed a number of individuals, leaving the area even more debilitated. Over the next few years, ADE worked with the local community on education initiatives and projects to help the community heal and rebuild.

The national newspaper of Costa Rica wrote these two articles about our response (in Spanish):
1)Article on Earthquake Response                                    2)Article on ADE and Community Response

ADE High School
Colegio Bilingüe Vara Blanca was the first secondary school opened in the Vara Blanca community. And continues today to serve the communities of: San Rafael de Vara Blanca, Los Cartagos and Vara Blanca. The goal of the project was to educate students in a way that not only benefits the individual, but the whole community. We did this through focusing on academics that allowed students to evaluate events and systems based on community development, environmental responsibility and social justice. Students connected the needs of their community to the classroom, through projects that directly affected and benefited their lives and families. By partnering with other academic institutions around the world, our students learned to think globally and act locally. In 2015, after many years of working in the High School and seeing its academic success, the Ministry of Public Education in Costa Rica came and offered to continue the school's operations. We readily agreed as our original mission was always to empower the local community. Mission Accomplished! 

Here is an article in the national newspaper of Costa Rica with student interviews and success of our High School

Blackberry Cooperative

The central highlands of Costa Rica provide the perfect climate for the growth and production of multiple varieties of wild blackberry. Realizing the potential of this native fruit as a sustainable agricultural endeavor, ADE decided to pursue cultivation and harvesting of these plants. Working with the Fabio Baudrit Moreno Experimental Agriculture Station in Fraijanes, ADE was given a hybrid blackberry variety which produced a generous harvest and manageable crop. In the beginning stages of cultivation, ADE had nearly 500 individual plants under it's care, with approximately 3000 more under the care of three other community members.This collaboration helped ADE to facilitate a local blackberry cultivation cooperative. 

One of the pillars of the program is ADE's zero down development model – using local assets without funds in order to start a successful project. This characteristic opened the doors for single mothers and small farmers to get involved in the project. These other blackberry cooperative members also benefited from the financial profits gained from their crops. Future prospects for the cooperative include donating blackberry plants to others in the community, working in processed blackberry production and eventually opening up to production of other fruits and vegetables, as well.