What drives our work
We believe in an inclusive Dominican Republic that provides access to high-quality education and promotes the human rights of all people.
Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic face systemic discrimination that prevents them from accessing basic civil and human rights. Because of this, opportunities for employment outside of the informal labor market are scarce, and many people are limited to living in underserved batey communities.
In the second half of the 20th century, many Haitians entered the country during decades of state-sponsored migration, as low-paid manual labor for sugarcane plantations, living in makeshift rural settlements known as “bateys“. For the descendants of migrants who settled, being born in the Dominican Republic almost invariably means being born into a cycle of intergenerational poverty. Deeply-rooted, systemic prejudice based on skin color prevails, and people with Haitian ancestry living in rural and urban settings across the country today face issues accessing basic civil and human rights. These include the right to education, to travel, to vote, to due process, and the right to citizenship. Without access to education and documentation, opportunities for employment are limited to non-contracted agricultural and construction work.
Yspaniola empowers youth in marginalized communities to unlock their full academic potential and set in motion a future where they can support their families, advocate for their rights and effect positive social change. By offering holistic education services centered around youth in marginalized communities, we allow the future generation to reach these goals, thus becoming well-rounded change-makers for themselves and their community. At Yspaniola, we are dedicated to offering the best services we can to our students based on our four action pillars.
Our Four Pillars
High-Quality Literacy Education
The Dominican education system is consistently ranked as one of the worst in the world. Many students from bateys and other marginalized communities fall behind and are unable to master the most basic reading and writing skills. At Yspaniola, we strive to provide children with the best possible start to their education by offering literacy-focused curriculum to students ages four to seventeen.
Right to Identity and Social Inclusion
We help protect students’ right to reside in the country where they were born, and we work to reduce the threat of deportation. Since 2013, Yspaniola has run multiple documentation initiatives to help Batey Libertad residents access health care and travel without fear.
We offer scholarships to talented individuals whose families cannot afford a college education, and technical training courses for students looking for a vocational path into the professional workforce. Our programs aim to support students to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to to envision a positive future and advocate for themselves and their community. This allows them to participate more fully as members of Dominican society.
Outreach and Advocacy
Cross-border solidarity and local outreach are at the core of Yspaniola’s work. We partner with universities, high schools, and churches outside of the Dominican Republic and NGOs, civil society organizations, and volunteers in-country. Through these efforts, we establish support networks and collaborate with others to advocate for social justice.