The Nicaragua Compact was formed at Break Away's International Alternative Break Citizenship School, hosted by Panorama Service Expeditions in 2011 in Nicaragua. The initiative was formed in order to engage US higher education efforts in the long-term development of Nicaragua through social-justice based direct service projects. Panorama Service Expeditions (PSE), a non-profit organization focused on grassroots sustainable social and economic development projects, and Break Away, the national non-profit for alternative breaks, made a commitment to long-term sustainability and service for communities in Nicaragua.
At the core of the Nicaragua Compact is social justice. It means working in solidarity with Nicaraguan communities, where the U.S. higher education institutions take into account community-expressed needs when developing the projects. These projects are realized through the collaboration and continuity provided through the Compact. The Compact’s vision is to create meaningful change for communities through advocacy, empowerment, and action. Part of the goal is to have 30 universities and colleges make a long-term commitment to one of 5 communities in Nicaragua. Each community will have approximately 6 higher education institutions working year-round in order to have the greatest impact. Schools involved with the same community will collaborate so that their projects will build upon each other.
In order to participate in the Nicaragua Compact, each university must make a multi-year commitment to serve the same community. Each community will have a conference call once a month with all of the universities involved, in order to plan and prioritize project tasks. PSE staff will facilitate this communication and assist in coordinating the project efforts. Once a year, PSE will host a Compact Conference in Nicaragua for impact assessment and strategic planning to ensure the success of the Compact. Staff and student leaders from participating universities will be invited to attend. Compact members will receive heavily discounted pricing to attend the Compact Conference.
Since the inception of the Nicaragua Compact, a great deal has been accomplished. 19 communities have been served, 7,300 trees have been planted, 4 houses have been built, 1,200 primary and secondary school students have been directly taught by education groups, 6,763 medical and dental patients have been treated on medical brigades, 10 school classrooms have been renovated or repaired, 210 families (1,510 people) have been connected to clean, safe water systems and many lives have been changed. PSE and its Compact universities also provide ongoing financial support for the local community schools, including tuition for 53 children and the yearly salary of 2 teachers.