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It’s back-to-school season in the United States. Yellow school buses once again join the morning commute; teachers prepare lesson plans for the year to come; social media brims with photos of eager, sharply dressed children.

But around the world, many children are again seeing their peers don neat, identical uniforms and walk to school—and wishing they could join them.

Where education at a young age is both an expectation and a requirement for many of us, it is a hard-earned luxury for much of the world. The numbers are staggering: Around the world, an estimated 62 million elementary school-aged children are not enrolled in school, according to the World Bank.

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Block by block, Aleyda Torres Constanzo built her Christian school “Light of the Future” in the community of La Romana, Dominican Republic. Progress was slow and measured, but destruction was unhesitating when Hurricane George tore it down in 1998, just two years into the school’s operations. Aleyda’s students finished the school year in a classroom covered by a tarp. “Parents didn’t let that deter them from sending their children here,” she explains. On the contrary, “What they saw was the quality of education and the determination that we had.”

Government schools in the Dominican Republic are notoriously underfunded and inadequate, and even in the poorest communities, many parents will sacrifice a significant portion of their limited income to ensure a good education for their children. In La Romana, Aleyda’s school has grown rapidly, from just 40 students in 1996 to over 230 this time last year. To ease overcrowded classrooms and meet the demand for continued growth, Aleyda sought a loan from HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic, Esperanza International, to build additional classroom space. With funding through a partnership with Edify—a nonprofit dedicated to providing small-business loans to low-cost, sustainable Christian schools—Esperanza was able to fulfill her loan request for $2,600, well above their average community bank loan of $315. Continue Reading…