Uno A La Vez

Uno-A-La-Vez uses community-based social enterprise to fund after-school programs and scholarships for vulnerable and at-risk youth in Costa Rica.
2015Costa Rica

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting

Location Data

Uno A La Vez, in collaboration with SOS Children's Villages, aims to build a sustainable life-plan for institutionalized, vulnerable, and at-risk children and youth in poor communities. This program works with children who have lost, or are at risk of losing their families. The goal of this program is to break the cycle of poverty and abuse so these children have a fair chance at leading self-reliant lives. The current pilot of this initiative is being operationalized in Costa Rica with around 300 children.

The Uno A La Vez pilot has three components:

  • Early Childhood Development (ECD), focusing on children under the age of four years old;
  • Core Enhancement Program (CEP), focusing on children aged five to sixteen years old; and
  • Academic, Creative and Technical (ACT) skills program, focusing on children aged eight to eighteen years old


The ECD initiative is focused on providing direct counseling, coaching and other forms of assistance to families who are at risk of losing their children due to poverty and / or abuse. Its goal is to prevent families from breaking apart, while providing crucial support to children less than four years of age in a variety of areas that are proven to have positive lasting effects on both adolescent and adult life.

CEP functions as an after-school program that serves 300 children and aims to build motivation, grit, and life skills through mentoring, reading, learning through play, English language fluency, fine arts education, internships, and vocational skills. CEP also addresses the special needs of children, such as speech therapy and assistance with any other physical or emotional disability.

The ACT skills program has three private education tracks - Academic, Creative, and Technical. This program recognizes that each child is special and that their innate talents need to be recognized, encouraged, and supported. Uno A La Vez has negotiated special spots and rates with private schools that offer traditional academic education, creative arts education, or vocational / technical training, so that some of the most talented students can attain an upgraded education, while gaining employability skills to help carve their life paths.

Uno A La Vez will be monitoring specific measurable outcomes on all three components.

A critical aspect of Uno A La Vez is the recognition that the current "Donate Now" or "Sponsor a Child" methods of financing are highly volatile and unsustainable. Therefore, this program is building a local community-based social enterprise that, when fully operational, will provide sustainable funding for all three of its components mentioned above. The social enterprise model aims to reap significant environmental benefits by reducing landfill waste, improving soil structure, reducing leaching of chemicals into the water table, and cutting down on the use of synthetic chemicals in farmlands and other local farming activities.


Uno-A-La-Vez has an innovative financing model that allows it to be self-sustainingAdapting sustainable enterprise to local conditions, scaling up the program

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