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More About the Partnership with HISD | Amigos de las Americas | May 24, 2021

HOUSTON, TX, May 24, 2021 – With a combined 154 years of experience serving the Houston community, Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS) and the Houston Independent School District (HISD), in partnership with the Brazilian Consulate in Houston, have launched the Classroom Community Impact Project with students from North Houston Early College High School and Escola Técnica Estadual (ETE) Edson Mororó Moura in Belo Jardim, Pernambuco, Brazil.

The Classroom Community Impact Project is a virtual exchange and community engagement program that supplements classroom learning. In sessions three times per week, students build global competencies through social emotional learning. They explore civic engagement by creating a unique service project that addresses a local issue with a global perspective. The program culminates in a pitch presentation to a panel of experts who provide feedback and guidance on students’ service project ideas. The result is a globally-conscious blended learning experience that empowers high school students to explore college and career opportunities, recognize their role as global citizens, and enact positive change.

“Youth have enormous power to shape our response to critical global issues. Providing opportunities for students to find their role in our global community is essential in building tomorrow’s leaders,” said Sara Nathan, President & CEO of AMIGOS. “Being able to promote meaningful cultural exchange in a virtual setting is a game-changer for accessibility. We are excited to partner with HISD on this venture.”

The Classroom Community Impact Project is designed to be replicated in schools in the United States and abroad. By running this program free-of-charge, students have an opportunity to engage globally, regardless of socioeconomic background. This virtual exchange makes the program accessible and equitable. AMIGOS and HISD are committed to providing significant financial assistance to empower students to embark on life-changing service and leadership experiences.

Kian Zare, Senior Manager of Special Projects at HISD, shared, “We chose to partner with AMIGOS on this venture because we share the vision of providing an equitable, immersive, and globally-focused leadership program to students who might not otherwise have had the chance. Moreover, we understand the importance of expanding and diversifying students’ personal and professional networks. And AMIGOS is helping HISD accomplish this through quality programming that engenders strong relationships among students around the world through shared experiences in civics. It’s a privilege to build this innovative pilot together and create a blended learning model for other schools and institutions to build upon.”

It has never been more important to equip young people to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. Skills learned through cross-cultural connection, one-on-one mentorship, and collaboration with peers serve students as they expand the scope of college and career exploration to vastly different contexts. Today’s students will develop the strengths of a knowmad, a term coined by John Moravec, PhD: “a nomadic knowledge worker, […] a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, anywhere.” Students who graduate high school prepared to thrive in multicultural settings are well-positioned to excel in a global workforce.

AMIGOS has worked in youth leadership since 1965. Throughout this time, what has remained constant is that young people carry a deep desire to make an impact and serve their communities. As the pandemic took root last year, this passion proved especially true – more than 130 students joined the initial Community Impact Project in 2020. Some of the service initiatives they designed included providing compostable takeout containers and utensils to local restaurants, creating a virtual tutoring program, and developing computer and Zoom tutorials for seniors.

After completing this program, 98% of students reported feeling more confident in their ability to work with people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, 98% want to be more active in their community, and 95% feel more confident in their ability to plan and carry out a community service project.

Students in this program lead by sparking dialogue, cultivating virtual communities, and engaging with one another in creative ways. They build cultural competence by collaborating with teens across the world and learning about cultural humility. They develop active citizenship by exploring global connections and local actions with a diversity of thought, perspective, and people. Ultimately, they support their community through service and work to construct a more inclusive and open world for all.


About the Partners


About Amigos de las Américas (AMIGOS)

Amigos de las Américas (AMIGOS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1965. AMIGOS provides safe and authentic volunteer and immersion programs in Latin America and the United States for young people ages 13 to 22. Initially founded to address a polio epidemic in Honduras, AMIGOS is a leader in youth leadership and volunteer service programming. During the past 56 years, nearly 30,000 students have participated with AMIGOS in 17 countries throughout the Americas. Across the world, young people play a tremendous role in bringing about community change. Our programs challenge students to realize their full potential through transformational experiences in leadership, service, and cultural exchange.

For media inquiries, please contact April Hearne, Managing Director of Operations, at [email protected].


About the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and HISD Abroad

The Houston Independent School District, with more than 210,061 students and encompassing 333 square miles within greater Houston, is the seventh-largest public-school system in the nation and the largest in Texas. Over 100 languages are spoken in HISD.

HISD Abroad was founded in 2020 as an initiative designed to increase equity of access to secondary travel opportunities. Amigos de las Americas and other study abroad organizations are collaborating with HISD to remove financial barriers to international travel for secondary students. During the pandemic, HISD abroad pivoted to virtual exchanges but intends to resume offering travel opportunities to students in Summer 2023. For more information or partnership inquiries, please reach out to Kian Zare at [email protected].

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