The vibrant landscape of Nicaragua includes breathtaking lakes and active volcanoes. Behind the beautiful scenery, however, the six million people who make up Central America’s largest country, are among the poorest in the western hemisphere. In 2005, Hand in Hand Ministries developed a program to enhance the educational opportunities for children living in Managua, in hopes of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Hand in Hand’s Nicaragua Video • Brochure

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Pathway to Change Program: Child Sponsorship
Hand in Hand launched its Pathway to Change Program in 2005 with just three students. The program has grown to include nearly 100 children ages six to sixteen, who are provided with everything they need to thrive in a private school setting. Books, uniforms, tuition assistance, tutoring, English classes and family counseling are essential ingredients for academic success. We celebrate the accomplishments of 34 program graduates who have continued their studies at local universities.

Parents are very involved and proud to have their kids in the program. They commit to the care and supervision of their child’s schoolwork and provide symbolic monthly payments to maintain their child’s enrollment in the program. Our Children’s Center provides a space for daily tutoring, family meetings and various workshops, along with a children’s library.

Our Children’s Center is currently closed because of the pandemic, but school is still in session. All students are still enrolled in school and all learning, tutoring, and family counseling is done with the help of technology. Families who are facing economic challenges are now receiving food assistance. We will continue to meet the needs of all our families to the best of our ability during these challenging times.

The Pathway to Change Program remains in a relatively stable financial position because of our child sponsors who provide financial assistance for nearly half of our student population. Full sponsorship costs $2,000 per year and covers the cost of tuition, uniforms, books, school supplies, transportation, nutritional support, counseling, family support services, English classes, and swimming lessons. It is a comprehensive educational program designed to open the door to a different life for our students and their families. Sponsors receive quarterly reports on their sponsored child’s academic progress and are encouraged to correspond with their child through our Hand in Hand staff. 

If you would like to learn more about becoming a child sponsor please contact

Pathway to Change Report Card

Below are the 2020 1st Quarter results for Hand in Hand’s Pathway to Change program in Managua and Leon. All averages are calculated using only core-curriculum courses (Spanish, English, Mathematics, Science, Philosophy and Social Studies)

1st Quarter results for the Pathway Program in 2020:

  • 90 students started the 2020 school year in the Pathway Program. (74 in Managua and 16 in the city of Leon)       
  • 9 Pathway students were either 1st or 2nd in their class 
  • 34 is the average class size for our Pathway students
  • 50 Pathway scholars achieved outstanding averages of 90% or more
  • 53 of our 90 students were in the top 10 in their class
  • 30 of our 90 students were in the top 5 in their class 
  • 77 Pathway students were in the top half of their class 
  • 85 of our 90 Pathway students achieved a grade average of 80% or better  
Where are They Now? Pathway to Change Graduates

Adriana is a student at the University of Science & Technology in Costa Rica studying Industrial Engineering. Adriana has been waiting for classes to resume so we caught up with her to with some questions about her Pathway to Change experience. 

What are some of your favorite memories of being in the Pathway to Change Program?
I have good memories. Meeting new people and getting along with them, I would always be learning and making the best out of the time we had together. English class with the passion and dedication teacher Barbara had, were moments I will never forget. Hosting immersion trip volunteer guests into our family home.  In 2015, I had the opportunity to speak at the Legacy Luncheon in Louisville, Kentucky (see Adriana’s speech) I had the opportunity to meet an incredible family that greeted me with so much love and just made it a beautiful experience.

What inspired you to study industrial engineering?
The fact that industrial engineering is such a diverse degree that you can apply to many fields. On the other hand, the fact of being able to lead, really inspired me. 

What have you enjoyed most about being in University?
Everything, absolutely everything. Having met new people with different nationalities, learning from each other has been immensely satisfactory. The University within its competencies has to train leaders in all possible aspects, and I try to put that to use in my group work, in my life, etc. I enjoy the evaluation methodology, it is zero exams and 100% projects.

When will you graduate and what do you think you will do after graduation?
I finish school in April 2021, but will graduate in September 2021. I will be working full-time and pursuing another scholarship to continue my studying.

How has learning English helped you?
A lot, almost all of the books I use for school are in English. Usually companies require it when you apply for a job. 

If you could give advice to your 10 year old self, what would it be?
I would tell her not to give up, to not stop until she gets it. That economic position does not matter; it does not define who you are or where you can go. Always set your eyes further than where you think you can go.

Archive: Where are They Now? Pathway to Change Graduates

Francis, 17, a recent high school graduate is currently studying Optometry at UNAN (National Autonomus University of Nicaragua) where she is currently on hold until in-person classes resume. Francis has been training during this time and is now a volunteer firefighter. We have asked her some questions about her Pathway to Change experience. 

What are some of your favorites memories of being in the Pathway to Change program? 
There are many beautiful memories. I really like receiving math tutorials because it clarified my doubts and got good grades. Another favorite was when I was congratulated on my academic excellence and also the times that I shared with my friends in the ministry activities.

How did you choose to study Optometry?
My biggest dream is to study medicine and be a brilliant doctor. But in college there were no spots left to study medicine, so I decided to study Optometry for one year with the hope and faith in God that I could add to my career in a years time and fulfill my dream. 

What inspired you to become a volunteer firefighter at 16 years old? What is the best part?
I was motivated by the profession of serving other people. Also children look at you like a hero and on several occasions it really is you. I’m always ready for an emergency call and enjoy seeing the joy on people’s faces when you answer the call and I learn new things every day. 

If you could give advice to your 8 year old self, what would it be?
Always keep moving forward, don’t stop. Do your best and never say ‘I can’t,’ study as much as you can and above always, trust God. 


Pathway to Progress (Canada)

Pathway to Progress Nicaragua is a Canadian charity that is dedicated to supporting an innovative program called Pathway to Change in Managua, Nicaragua.  This program provides children from the neediest families with the opportunity for quality education in order to break the cycle of poverty. Money raised in Canada is carefully used to cover the costs of scholarships and education expenses for students enrolled in this program.

Ways to Help

“I want to thank you because even though my grades were never the best you always continued supporting me. It has meant a lot to me to be part of [this program] Thanks to this beautiful group of people, I have had a lot of unforgettable experiences and I have met a lot of good people who now have great importance in my life.” Pathway Student, Carlos Andres, from a letter at high school graduation

“”Having finally seen the work you [Ed & Barbara Dunsworth] have both dedicated your lives to at first-hand – I can say without reservation that it’s clear that it’s working and that you are making a positive difference in the lives of many people. Apart from all the love that is evident in what you do, I was impressed by the intelligence and disciplined focus of your mission.” Chris Murphy, volunteer and student sponsor, Halifax N.S.

“Adriana has very beautiful memories of her childhood [in the Pathway program] where you were with her, guiding her, teaching her and giving love to [her] every moment, and she, like a sponge, absorbing everything you gave her….We thank God that we have been touched by very good people and that we have been able to move ahead.” Adriana is now studying Industrial Engineering in Costa Rica. Her mom continues, “Her knowledge of English has opened the door to employment in a company related to her studies where she is working part-time while finishing her degree.” Dona Elisa, mother of Pathway student, Adriana Ramirez, who was with us from age 6 through high school graduation in 2017.