PLATINUM2024

HANDS ACROSS THE SEA INC

Dedicated to Raising Children's Literacy in the Eastern Caribbean

aka Hands Across the Sea   |   Boston, MA   |  https://www.handsacrossthesea.org

Mission

Hands Across the Sea is dedicated to raising children's literacy in the Eastern Caribbean.

Ruling year info

2007

Executive Director

Amanda Sherlip

Main address

P.O. Box 55071 Suite 85043

Boston, MA 02205 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-5897380

NTEE code info

Libraries, Library Science (B70)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Literacy has long been a challenge in the Eastern Caribbean, and many adults only have a sixth-grade education. Since many schools in the OECS lack new, appropriate, exciting books for students, interest in reading is low—and so are the literacy levels of many children. Most come from low-income households, and books—especially bright, engaging picture and chapter books are hard to come by. Another major challenge is the lack of teacher training in the Caribbean. Because of this, many teachers struggle to teach reading—a difficult skill that takes patience, perseverance and creativity. Unfortunately, a majority of teachers resort to archaic, rote-memory methods of the past that often discourage young readers and critical thinking. Many of them want to be good teachers, but there is very little support to be creative or to try new things in the classroom.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Caribbean Literacy and School Support (CLASS) and Preschools Pilot

Hands Across the Sea is US-based international NGO dedicated to raising childhood literacy in Eastern Caribbean since 2007. Recognized as the most effective literacy non-governmental organization in the entire Eastern Caribbean, we work directly with our stakeholders: principals, teachers, children, and communities, and in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to ensure that access to literacy resources is not limited for any child, anywhere. Our on-island Literacy Links deliver grassroots initiatives and implement hyper-local programs that support sustainable libraries and engage students, schools, and communities as active participants in youth literacy.

As of the 2021 school year, Hands has reached over 167,000 children on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with over half-a-million new books, mentorship programs and literacy initiatives. Hands has helped create or rejuvenate over 927 school and community libraries and is focused on long-term sustainability of libraries and instilling a love of reading in children’s and families’ lives.

Hands is committed to the UN SDG goals, especially those which center around Education, Inequity, Justice, Poverty, Economic Growth, and Partnerships. In 2020, Hands Across the Sea signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the OECS's Education Management Unit to support our capacity in working toward mutual goals as we invest in the future of our next generation. Hands Across the Sea serves on the Regional Educational Group as the NGO representative alongside esteemed members from USAID, Caribbean Development Bank, World Bank, the European Union, University of the West Indies, Global Partners for Educations, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, UNESCO, UNICEF, and the Caribbean Union of Teachers.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of children who have access to Hands’ books and programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Teachers, Young adults

Related Program

Caribbean Literacy and School Support (CLASS) and Preschools Pilot

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The reach and positive impact of Hands Across the Sea, founded in 2007 to raise child literacy levels and assist schools in Eastern Caribbean communities, continues to show steady growth.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Dedicated to raising the literacy levels of children in the six Eastern Caribbean countries of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, our goal is to transform the child literacy landscape by helping schools, reading programs, and community libraries create or rejuvenate vibrant, sustainable lending libraries and literacy initiatives that are inviting, engaging, and have a lastin impact. In conjunction with that goal, our mission is to equip, encourage, and support educators to utilize the books and resources in their school libraries, so that they can build and promote communities of lifelong readers for generations to come. We work hands-on with our projects year after year for as long as they need our help. It's a matter of social justice: we refuse to accept the fact that many thousands of Caribbean children grow up not reading. We refuse to accept the fact that any child would go without access to libraries with relevant, high-quality, reading material that is age- and culturally-appropriate.

Hands Across the Sea takes a multi-pronged approach to sustaining children's literacy through grassroots programs and strong partnership and network collaboration.

Recognized as the most effective literacy non-governmental organization in the entire Eastern Caribbean, we work directly with our stakeholders: principals, teachers, children, and communities, and in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to ensure that access to literacy resources is not limited for any child, anywhere. Our on-island Literacy Links deliver grassroots initiatives and implement hyper-local programs that support sustainable libraries and engage students, schools, and communities as active participants in youth literacy.

Our strategy to improve children’s literacy is realized through two programs:
- Caribbean Literacy and School Support, or CLASS Program, is dedicated to primary through secondary school-aged children. CLASS delivers a three-step program: 1) sending interesting, relevant, age appropriate and culturally responsive books, 2) creating /rejuvenating school libraries with an easy-to-deploy, sustainable methodology and 3) offering ongoing mentorship, training, and support. Our Student Librarian training program complements UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Schools Initiative, promoting self-esteem and a sense of responsibility among students.
- The Early Pages Programme (EPP) is a pre-primary program, and the first universal emergent literacy program in the region. The EPP aims to raise childhood literacy and prepare children for lifelong success through three intentional actions: (1) integrating literacy as an explicit aspect of the preschool environment; (2) increasing parental engagement; and (3) building awareness and community participation in early childhood literacy.

Our program officers are local leaders and literacy experts who live and work in each of our operating countries to oversee and implement daily programming. These officers, known as "Literacy Links" continually monitor the schools while providing support to educators and ensuring the libraries remain relevant and sustainable. Literacy Links conduct trainings, workshops, orientations, and serve as liaisons and leaders in their respective communities.

Hands Across the Sea works directly with school systems in the Caribbean through local, on-the-ground, program officers called Literacy Links who work directly with students, monitor the libraries at each school, meet with and train principals and staff, and link what Hands does with Ministry of Education initiatives on each island. Teachers, principals, parents, and students maintain direct access to Literacy Links who are frontline literacy experts from their respective community. Literacy Links work as local leaders are respond to local needs with agility, while working to support the organization's goals such that programs are meeting the mission while remaining local.

Hands operations run in the US. By purchasing new, world-class, appropriate books at discounted rates and building sustainable and responsible collections, we are able to build programs and systems that become embedded in the communities within which they are situated. Logistics partners in the US support our work by providing warehouse space for book operations, shipping, and discounted freighting. Our work runs on donation and charitable partnership which we leverage to keep our costs extremely low in what would be an otherwise untenable expense if not for this sustained and reliable partnership.

Our partnerships support our capacity to succeed. As a member of the Regional Education Group, Hands Across the Sea is positioned to support the voice and needs of students and educators while participating in the conversation around the curriculum and priorities for the region's education goals. In this way, Hands is able to work in harmony with governmental and nongovernmental groups while maintaining autonomy.

Since our founding, Hands has placed 561,644 new, appropriate books in the hands and schools of more than 196,816 children in the developing island nations of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. But the program runs on more than books alone. Local experts known as Literacy Links, work as on-island Program Officers, and oversee initiatives and partnerships with more than 938 school and community libraries and reading programs across the six countries. Hands Across the Sea has also trained more than 1,200 student librarians and worked with more than 100 US Peace Corps Volunteers who have been assigned to school and community libraries.

In 2020, Hands set out to conduct a multi-year pilot preschool program in Grenada, followed by a soft-launch in Nevis in 2022. In 2023, Hands Across the Sea codified the Early Pages Programme with a launch in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Grenada. This program, recognized as the first Universal Emergent Literacy Program in the Eastern Caribbean, is supported by an open-access resource which provides the guidance and support needed for schools throughout the region to create, build, and sustain a thriving and intentional pre-primary literacy program for thousands of early learners each year.

Hands Across the Sea’s programs are endorsed by the OECS and embraced by the National Ministry across six Eastern Caribbean countries. In December 2022, Hands and the OECS began the revised draft for their Memorandum of Understanding. Hands Across the Sea is an OECS Development Partner and is an invited delegate at the Annual Council of Ministers Meeting, Annual Meeting of Chief Education Officers, and Regional Conference of Early Childhood Directors. Hands Across the Sea is a member of the Regional Education Group and works in close partnership and collaboration with Global Partners for Education (GPE), US AID, World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, the European Union, University of the West Indies, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and the Caribbean Union of Teachers. Hands Across the Sea is recognized as the most effective literacy nonprofit in the Eastern Caribbean. Hands also remains a Top-Rated Nonprofit 11-years in a row according to the nonprofit monitoring service Great Nonprofits and holds a Platinum Rating with Guidestar.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

HANDS ACROSS THE SEA INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

HANDS ACROSS THE SEA INC

Board of directors
as of 03/15/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Leah Garratt

Leah Garratt

Retired School Administrator

Yah-Hanna Jenkins

MillerKnoll Foundation

Allegra Asplundh

Philanthropic Advisor; Social Impact Investor

Anne Joseph, PhD

Ring Therapeutics

Viviane Scott, JD

Associate at Gunderson Dettmer

Jamelyn Ebelacker

MBA candidate, ASU

Jennifer McCarthy

AIT Worldwide Logistics

Koren Norton

KN Consulting

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/15/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/27/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.