La Asociacion CREAR

La Asociacion CREAR: Las Divinas, Female Empowerment

Playa Samara, Costa RicaPlaya Samara, Costa Rica
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Imagine a network of empowered women that invest in and improve their community and have healthy, well-educated children. The women’s empowerment element of CREAR opens a safe space for girls and women to explore their talents and broaden their opportunities in life.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if educated young women could take hold of their futures and be the ones to change their communities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Guanacaste region of Costa Rica faces a 23% adolescent pregnancy rate, and a 13% graduation rate from high school ( Due to the pervasively masculine culture, young women enter into powerless relationships and are left with virtually no professional skills to raise their families. The consequence is a stressful environment in which their children cannot focus on their educational opportunities, and the cycle of poverty continues.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Break the cycle: to invest in women is to invest in communities. CREAR offers holistic support for females by providing: Program for young girls to develop their self-esteem and life skills; High school girl’s empowerment course that exposes young women to positive role models and allows them to explore their talents; Technology classes for girls focused on STEM concepts and 3D printing; Training for women in the form of English classes that will allow them to better their economic standing


Guanacaste Community Fund grant recipient for Girl’s Empowerment Program, 2015 Premio Yo Creo Social Entrepreneurship award, 2015 ProArtes grant recipient for Artistic Camp & Educational Field Trip program for 100+ children, 2010
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Education is the greatest gift that a child can be given. A female’s high school education will make a big difference in her quality of life. She'll be better able to keep her children healthy because she will have a more sophisticated understanding of nutrition and hygiene. CREAR keeps girls in school through educating girls in regard to sexuality and amplifying their vision of the world by exposing them to new ideas and professions. Additionally, CREAR offers 3D printing and STEM concept classes to encourage critical thinking imperative in the professional world; a program to teach adult women English, and a boy’s program focused on nutrition and surfing with the important element of respect for women woven into the curriculum.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

40 7-10 year olds 10 high school girls 25 girls impacted through 3D and STEM concept classes 25 women 63 families impacted 550 hours of English instruction, 2009-2015 3,250 hours of Art classes, 2009-2015 80 hours of Girl’s Empowerment workshops, 2015 50 hours of 3D printing class, 2015 25 hours of Pied Piper, Engineering Concepts class, 2015 Workshop with local parents: Importance of communication and the benefits of establishing rules and limits Workshop provided for local area teachers by psychologists from the Minsterio de Educacion Publica (MEP): Adolescent sexuality, and how to educate teens on safe sex practices 20 in- school assemblies on 7 different topics to over 200 children Future impact: Exponentially increase each of these numbers by establishing programs in neighboring communities in addition to implementing a program specifically for boys

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We will exponentially increase the amount of beneficiaries by implementing courses in 9 of the surrounding communities. Outreach will be expanded to the central valley by partnering with “Puertas Abiertas,” a program that gives English classes to single mothers in order to provide better job opportunities. We will involve more mothers, and offer more social services in addition to creating programs that target the same demographic as all of the existing CREAR programs. These “partner” groups will be able to collaborate and forge strengthening relationships across the country.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

CREAR covers 65% of its expenses by selling a service to international volunteer groups that allows the association to work as a “travel agency," designing all aspects of a trip including lodging, food, activities, and the community service element. CREAR earns a significant amount of income from commissions from the businesses utilized in the itinerary. The 35% gap is filled in with local fundraising events, an internship program, and donations.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Punta Islita Women's Cooperativo Asociacion CEPIA, Tamarindo Samara Sewing School CREAR has the only program in the region that has adopted a holistic approach to empower women through the education of young men in addition to females from ages ranging from 7 to 50. CREAR weaves together classes in technology, art, empowerment and sports to offer enriching experiences and education to our local population.

Founding Story

After years of working with and building relationships with the same community of children, we noticed that our little girls were turning into little women. Certain issues had always been clear: girls receive far less opportunity for recreation in this male dominated community. But, after getting to know our little women more, new issues were clear: early pregnancy, domestic abuse, self-esteem issues. When one of our students became pregnant and lost her baby due to a domestic abuse incident while we simultaneously saw vulgar photos posted by older men on another student´s facebook page; it was clear how we needed to shape CREAR programming to fit the evolving needs of our community.


Andrea Keith, Program Director: Responsible for all administrative matters, financing, community relations, fundraising, coordination of courses/events, building maintenance, web page, social media, marketing, focusing on the long term vision, grant writing, creation of new programs, volunteer and intern coordination, coordination of volunteer groups, among other responsibilities / Tess McGrath, Las Divinas, High School Girl's Empowerment Program Coordinator: Works directly with the Program Director in developing the curriculum and activities for the high school girl's empowerment program / Nelson Castro, English Instructor for Adult Women's English Program in Samara and Yong Girl’s Program Coordinator: Creates and gives classes to adult women twice a week in Playa Samara in addition to creating courses for young girl’s empowerment 3 times a week / Lindsay Fair, "Puertas Abiertas" English Program Coordinator: Coordination of staff and classes for free English classes in Heredia to 20 single, low income mothers through the Puertas Abiertas program / Johannah Waite, 3D Printing Classes Instructor: Develops curriculum and designs classes given to high school girls on 3D printing / Kimberly Eraca, Pied Piper Engineering Concepts Instructor: Develops curriculum and designs classes for young girls related to STEM concepts / La Asociacion CREAR Board of Directors: Laura Ellington, Lindsay LaVelle, Tess McGrath, Alvaro Teran, Johannah Waite
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

El Financiero

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-Founder, Program Director

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Gender Equality.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Program Director for La Asociacion CREAR since January 2009

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish and Psychology, Austin College, May 2008
• Graduated Magna cum Laude
• Member of the oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences (Phi Beta Kappa), the National Honor Society for Psychology majors (Psi Chi), the National Honor Society for Foreign Languages (Phi Sigma Iota), and the National Hispanic Honor Society (Sigma Delta Pi)
• Granted internship to travel to Costa Rica in January of 2008 to research tourism and its effects on the local and native cultures
• Granted Lilly Internship Scholarship in May of 2007 to explore a career in bilingual education in Costa Rica
• Named to the Dean’s List, top 20 % of class, all semesters in attendance

International Student, La Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica, Fall 2006
• Studied the history of Costa Rica, Spanish, youth and discrimination in Costa Rica
• Left University studies to pursue a job in the field of education

Posey Leadership Institute Scholar, Austin College August 2004 – May 2008
• Engaged in courses and retreats involved with the study of leadership and its development, processes and results. Organized, ran and planned the selection of incoming freshmen to the Posey Leadership Institute as institutional internship

Winner, Premio Yo Creo- including a training program in communication, leadership and fundraising, 80 hours, Honduras & San Jose, Universidad Latina, 2015
Crowdfunding workshop, 8 hours, La Universidad Latina, San Jose, 2015
TEDx conference on women’s empowerment, 8 hours, San José 2015
Training for education professionals in Adolescent Sexuality and Gender Identity, 24 hours, Minsterio de Educacion Publica (MEP), Sámara, 2015

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Partners: Puertas Abiertas of Intercultura
Intercultura Language School
Guanacaste Community Fund
Youth Action Net
International Youth Foundation
GS Learners
Abriendo Mentes