ThriveWorx & Costa Rica
ThriveWorx focuses on five pillars of development: Education, Economic Opportunity, Leadership, Environment, and Health. Every community that we work in has different needs within these categories. We work with each community we partner with to build a custom development plan. Broadly speaking, communities in Costa Rica tend to be more developed than those in neighboring countries, and generally have stable access to clean water.
Across the board, our partner communities in Costa Rica are concerned with improving the futures of their children. Investing in education and promoting transformational leadership among children and young adults are often top priorities for these communities. As a result, programs like Leadership Academy (for high school students) and Camp (for elementary-age students) are two of ThriveWorx’s most-requested programs in Costa Rica.
Among adults, leadership development as well as financial stewardship are key areas of focus.
Costa Rica is regarded to have the best educational system in Central America. It has a widespread network of public schools, but there are disparities in the quality of education.
Rural schools with small student populations can lack resources found in more populous centers. In fact, schools of 30 students or fewer are allotted just one teacher – and there are a significant number of schools that fall into this category. As of 2019, three of 10 elementary schools in Costa Rica are “single-teacher schools.” This arrangement requires teachers to teach multiple grades simultaneously, affecting the quality of the education.
Lack of technological infrastructure also poses an issue, and disparities of access have become more evident during COVID-19. Of the country’s roughly 100,000 students, 50% do not have internet connectivity.
50,000 students lack access to virtual schooling which has become more evident during COVID-19.
Compared to many other countries in Latin America, Costa Rica has a lower poverty rate, but this has hovered around 20% for many years.
Influence of Coffee
Thanks to volcanic soils, warm climate, high altitudes, and contrasting rainy and dry seasons, there are multiple zones of Costa Rica well-suited for the cultivation of coffee. Though Costa Rica does not fall into the world’s top ten producers of coffee by volume, it is well-known for its high-quality Arabica coffee beans.
Coffee first arrived in Costa Rica towards the end of the 18th century, and by the mid 19th century played a significant role in the economy and in society. Through the 1920s, coffee was transported from the Central Valley to the Pacific coast for exportation using ox carts that have become such a distinctive cultural symbol that they have been added to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (source).
Harvesting coffee is a labor-intensive process. Farms in Costa Rica employ a significant number of seasonal migrant workers from Nicaragua and Panama to help, though coffee-picking wages are typically low. In recent years, two of the biggest challenges coffee farmers have faced are preventing coffee rust (a type of fungal infection) and climate change.
Coffee remains one of Costa Rica’s primary exports today, and a staple in the country as well. The most typical way of brewing it is by pouring hot water through a chorreador, which looks like a sock suspended from a wooden frame. It is typical to have coffee at breakfast and in the afternoon with bread or a tortilla.
Geography & Size
The country of Costa Rica is roughly the same size as West Virginia. The country is divided by a mountain range, and there are many volcanoes (several active). Variation in terrain Though Costa Rica covers only 0.03% of the earth’s surface, it contains almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
Dry & Rainy Seasons
Dry season typically runs November through April, while rainy season typically runs May through October.
Climate is directly connected to coffee seasons: coffee cherries are harvested during the first months of the dry season, and coffee plants will flower at the beginning of the rainy season, leading to the eventual development of coffee cherries.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate: hot & humid in the lowlands, and cooler in the highlands.