News Archives

December 2013 – SchoolBOX Milestone: 50th Classroom Completed

In the last few days of 2013, our construction team put the finishing touches on classroom #50. The completion of this classroom marks a milestone for SchoolBOX: the realization of SchooBOX founder Tom Affleck’s ambition.

The fourth classroom at the Jennette Affleck (Chague 2) School in Leon is painted and ready to go for the upcoming school year. This school empowers over 135 children to get a primary education. Our amazing team is slated to build a sports area at the school so kids will have a safe place to play.

This school would not be possible without the help of our ‘Calgary Friends of SchoolBOX’ supporters.

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The recently completed 4th classroom at the Jennette Affleck School.

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SchoolBOX’s construction team pose with their latest success!

December 2013- Brett #2 School Inaugurated

On Monday December 2, 2013 the community of ‘15 de septiembre’ in Tipitapa gathered in celebration. The inauguration of the Brett Bentley Crawford #2 School brought together community members, students, teachers, the Ministry Education, local officials and SchoolBOX staff for speeches, presentations and the ribbon cutting ceremony.

This school is built in memory of Brett Bentley Crawford whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 19. Brett’s friends and family have kept her memory alive by helping hundreds of children in Nicaragua gain a basic education. Her passion for justice and tenacity for overcoming adversity is inspiring to the young students at the school.

This school will empower 120+ children to get a basic education. It includes four new classrooms, a sports area, a library and three washrooms. We are so thankful to the Crawford family and the CTV Amazing People Gala for the sponsorship of this school.

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Community members and SchoolBOX staff celebrate the completion of the beautiful Brett #2 School.

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From left to right: Leopoldo Bello of the city council, Teresa Gonzalez from the Ministry of Education, and SchoolBOX Operations Director Ronald Chavarria cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Brett #2 School.

December 2013 – Tracy’s Hope Legacy Kicks-off with a Library

The students at the Brett #2 School were all smiles for the unveiling of a new library. The library was made possible through donations to ‘Tracy’s Hope Legacy’. Funds were raised in various ways, including the sale of the infamous ‘Texting Mittens’ that were knit with love from local Ottawa residents. Tracy’s Hope Library represents SchoolBOX’s 17th ‘Books 4 Kids’ Library and will enhance the education of 120+ students in the rural community of ‘15 de septiembre’.

Tracy Nolan (Bell) was a young woman who lived a vibrant and compassionate life but sadly passed away from cancer in 2001. She spent much of her life dedicated to helping youth. Her friends and family now continue her work through Tracy’s Hope Legacy.

Tracy’s Hope Legacy began after Tracy’s sister, Dina, fundraised for SchoolBOX and then led a volunteer group to help build the Brett #2 School which would later house Tracy’s Hope Library.

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Kids show off the new books in Tracy’s Hope Library.

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Students also have great new learning materials like globes as a part of the library.

December 2013 – Christmas Newsletter

In case you missed it, the SchoolBOX Christmas Newsletter is online for your viewing pleasure. Click here to read about SchoolBOX highlights from 2013 and different ways to get involved in 2014!

The electronic Christmas newsleter is also available. Please click here to access.

November 2013- Jennette Affleck School Update

On November 18, SchoolBOX began construction of our 50th classroom to date. The SchoolBOX construction team was met with excitement, celebration and speeches at the Jennette Affleck School in Leon. Kids, community members and even the regional head of the Ministry of Education all came out to give thanks for the help, ‘Making Education Possible’ for hundreds of children.

The first phase of construction at the Jennette Affleck School included three classrooms, a library and two washrooms. This second phase includes a fourth classroom (our 50th) and a new sports area.

Huge thanks to our volunteers, ‘Ambassadors’, Bill Kennedy and Building Walls of Wisdom for helping us achieve this incredible milestone.

Students celebrate after the foundations stones have been laid.

Community leaders, SchoolBOX staff and a representative from the Ministry of Education lay the foundations stones.

October 2013- Brett #2 School Update

The Brett #2 School in Tipitapa, Nicaragua is finally complete! The community is working to finish painting the newly constructed 4 classroom school including a library, complete with a large soccer area, washrooms, and electrical system. This incredible new building replaced a dilapidated tin structure built by the community. It is now the best built structure in the entire community. The kids cannot be more excited to attend their new school!

This school was built in memory of Brett Bentley Crawford, a childhood friend of SchoolBOX founder, Tom Affleck who tragically passed away at the age of 19. We are so thankful to the incredible support of the Brett Bentley Crawford Foundation and the Amazing People Gala presented by CTV Ottawa for making this school possible. Together, we truly have ‘Made Education Possible’ in Tipitapa Nicaragua!

The Brett Bentley Crawford #2 School is now finished construction! All that is required is a coat of paint!

The Brett Bentley Crawford #2 School has four classrooms including one library, three washrooms and a sports area!

October 2013- 15 Mini Libraries Bring Hope to Students and Teachers

Books and basic learning materials are a necessity for a basic education. Yet for most of our partner schools in Nicaragua, teachers simply do not have access to these tools. Last year, SchoolBOX launched the Books 4 Kids program, which has really taken off! We have now delivered mini-libraries to 15 schools and trained 100 teachers in the art of creative teaching with books, silent reading as a tool, and book orgnisation and classification. The basic Books 4 Kids library includes text books, encyclopedias, story books by Nicaraguan authors, investigation books, globes and more.

We are so grateful to the Shirley Case School Build community for their incredible dedication to ‘Making Education Possible’ in Nicaragua. Shirley Case was a Canadian aid-worker, whose life was tragically cut short. Her legacy inspired the construction of two schools in Nicaragua, and is now providing hopes and dreams for hundreds of kids at 4 schools this year through ‘Books 4 Kids’ mini-libraries.

Students at the Jennette Affleck School enjoy their beautiful new ‘Mariposa Library’

Students at the Ruben Dario School in Leon show off their new library. The legacy of Shirley Case lives on at the Ruben Dario School and so many more!

October 2013- Soccer Dreams Program Inspires 200 Students in Nicaragua

In October 2013, SchoolBOX held three Soccer Dreams Tournaments in Nicaragua to finish off the 2013 season. The final three tournaments were held in El Sauce, Chichigalpa and Leon. All three tournaments were full of excitement and wonderful sportsmanship. In El Sauce the winner was the Ruben Dario (El Sauce). Santa Fe (Chichigalpa) and Ruben Dario (Leon) were crowned champions in their respective regions.

Soccer Dreams tournaments also encourage girls to get involved in sport, as they play alongside the boys in a bid for school bragging rights.

Soccer Dreams tournaments are carried out by SchoolBOX staff and local educators to encourage children to stay in school. SchoolBOX would like to thank the Amazing People Gala for empowering the West Ottawa Soccer Club trip to Nicaragua this year. The team definitely left a last impression on the children. SchoolBOX is so thankful to ‘Team Nicaragua Bound’ for fundraising enough to sponsor the Soccer Dreams program this year. Read about Team Nicaragua Bound’s adventure here.

Kids enjoy coming together for a day of fun and playing soccer for their school!

Every Soccer Dreams Tournament, four teams from the district have the opportunity to compete against other schools in their area!

September 2013- Celebration of SchoolBOX Benefit

We have so much to celebrate! So far this year, SchoolBOX has constructed four classrooms (with another four nearly finished), delivered 15,496 educational packages to kids and teachers, hosted 69 international volunteers, provided four schools with mini-libraries and hosted three soccer tournaments in Nicaragua.

We invite you to join us at the Almonte Old Town Hall (14 Bridge St, Almonte) oon October 4th to celebrate these achievements and raise funds to help ‘Make Education Possible’. The night will feature the new SchoolBOX documentary, amazing local musicians, auctions and more. The fantastic event is hosted by The Humm’s Krist and Rob Reindeau. It is going to be so much fun.

Tickets are $20 in advance and are being sold in Almonte from Equator Coffee and Baker Bob’s, and at Read’s Bookshop in Carleton Place. Doors open at 7:00 and events start at 7:30. See you there!

A Celebration of SchoolBOX is sponsored by Equator Coffee Roasters in Almonte.

This amazing event will feature the new SchoolBOX Documentary. Invite your friends!

September 2013- One Notebook Campaign

This year, the back-to-school routine at SchoolBOX got a whole lot more exciting. With the launch of our ONE Notebook campaign, SchoolBOX is making it easier for Canadians to ‘Make Education Possible’ for kids in Nicaragua. For every ONE Notebook sold, TWO are given to children in SchoolBOX partner schools.

This year SchoolBOX has delivered thousands of notebooks to students and teachers through the Supplies 4 Success program and is very excited that the same notebooks received by children in Nicaragua are now available in Canada. As the Canadian school year begins, the Nicaraguan school year nears an end. After breaking in December, Nicaraguan students return in February to begin a new year of classes and will need supplies.

ONE Notebook and the Supplies 4 Success program provides students with all they need for learning: pencils, an eraser, a sharpener, a ruler and of course notebooks.

ONE Notebooks come four delightful colours: Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. These fantastic notebooks are available in Almonte at Mill Street Books, Hello Yellow and Equator Coffee.

Students in Nicaragua receive the very same notebook that are now available in Almonte, ON at Equator Coffee Roasters, Mill Street Books and Hello Yellow.

Students are always very excited to have new school supplies to use.

September 2013- Ski 4 SchoolBOX with Olympian Perianne Jones

This winter SchoolBOX is thrilled to become a part of an incredible international journey with Perianne Jones. Perianne Jones, Canadian Olympian of the Vancouver 2010 games and for the Sochi 2014 games, will be an ambassador for SchoolBOX at the Sochi 2014 games and then she will go on to be a SchoolBOX volunteer in Nicaragua following the games. Perianne kicked off her journey with SchoolBOX at the Equator Block Party on September 14th meeting fans in Almonte, ON.

Inspired by Perianne, we are encouraging ski clubs across the country to organize events in support of the ‘Ski 4 SchoolBOX’ Campaign. Please contact Tara at for more information or to register an event.

Perianne will be competing in February at the 2014 Olympics Games in Sochi, Russia for Team Canada.

Inspired by Perianne and her sport, there will be Ski 4 SchoolBOX events this winter.

September 2013- Texting Mittens for Tracy’s Hope Library

The amazing Dina Bell-Laroche, who led the SchoolBOX Team Nicaragua Bound group was so touched by her experience that she is continuing to give back in Nicaragua. This fall, Dina has launched the Tracy’s Hope Library Legacy to honour her sister Tracy and keep her spirit alive.

Tracy Lee Nolan (nee Bell) was a vibrant and caring woman whose passion was to support children in need. She was an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend to many when she passed away at the age of 29 from cancer. Tracy’s legacy is now captured in the SchoolBOX library program, with a goal of ensuring that all schools have the educational materials they need to help student reach their full potential.

Join us in helping make a difference by purchasing a pair of hand crafted texting mittens which are made with love by local Ottawa knitters who believe in the power of making education possible.

Order Form and Photos here

Donate to Tracy’s Hope Library Legacy

Contact Judy O’Riordan for more information 613-721-0014.

Call Judy O’Riordan at 613-721-0014 to order these amazing mittens!

Texting Mittens are a great way to keep your hands warm without compromising the accuracy of your text messages!

September 2013- Over 15,000 Supplies4Success Packages Delivered

As the new school year began in Canada this September, SchoolBOX completed its annual goal of delivering over 15,000 packages of school supplies. This year SchoolBOX proudly provided 15,496 students and teachers with the supplies they need to make the most out of school. Our team was met with genuine gratitude from so many students and teachers showing us that what we do truly makes a difference. Our teams delivered Supplies 4 Success packages in 77 communities across Nicaragua. Each package contains notebooks, pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener and a ruler which are necessities for any student.

The children could not contain their excitement as they received their educational packages. The teachers could also not stop smiling!

School supplies are essential for all students. Kids are staying in school thanks to your support..

August 2013- Four Books 4 Kids Mini-libraries Inaugurated

This month, four of our partner schools have received mini-libraries. Students and teachers were thrilled to receive a variety of materials including Nicaraguan literature, spanish-american novels and storybooks, along with essential teaching resources such as encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries and textbooks. Books are essential learning resources that make lessons much more engaging and fun for students.

The libraries also help to inspire kids to read and learn more about their interests through their love of reading. At the delivery, teachers were also provided with training on how to store, transport and care for books so that they may be used for a long time to come. We are very excited about continuing our Books 4 Kids program and this year we plan to inaugurate our 15th Books 4 Kids library.

The teachers were so happy to receive the books, as they suffer from a lack of teaching materials.

Books foster the love of reading, and reading helps children develop creativity and decision making skills.

August 2013- Soccer Dreams Tournament in Telica Nicaragua

On Monday, August 19th La Union España school hosted the SchoolBOX Soccer Dreams Tournament in Telica, Nicaragua. Girls and boys from four school teams in the district came out for a day of fun and sport. Many community members were also there to cheer on their teams. After a traditional dance and some motivational words from SchoolBOX, the tournament was underway.

In the first match of the day, Los Maribios took on the Raffael Herrera school. In the second match the Union España school played the Nuevo Amanecer school.

The victorious teams Los Maribios and the Union España played for the trophy in the final game. At the end of the day, Los Maribios won the trophy but all the teams left as winners. Each team went home with new jerseys, soccer balls and pumps. Los Maribios and La Union España were also presented with medals to celebrate their achievements. Augustine Sergio Prado of Los Maribios and Betancourt Edison of La Union España were both awarded soccer balls for being the top scorers of the tournament with four goals each!

Our soccer tournaments are inclusive. An equal number of girls play soccer right alongside the boys!

The champions celebrate their tournament victory!

July 2013- Soccer Dreams Tournament on Ometepe Island

On Thursday, July 11 four schools on Ometepe Island came together to share an exciting day of soccer. Thanks to True Sport, the West Ottawa and Ottawa Royals Soccer clubs, the teams were outfitted in full uniforms to represent their schools. The day was hot and full of passion for players and spectators alike, many people from the community came out to cheer on their teams.

Members of the West Ottawa U14 Girls Soccer Team were on site to warm up before the games with the participants from the competing schools of Rigoberto Cabeza, La Flor Nicarao, San Jose del Sur and Los Angeles Esquipoulas. After the tournament the West Ottawa girls finished off the day with an exhibition game against the tournament winners Los Angeles Esquipoulas.

In the end all the teams won after having a fun filled day of soccer, each team left with soccer balls, jerseys and True Sport gear.

SchoolBOX wishes to thank West Ottawa and Ottawa Royals Soccer Clubs and True Sport for their support and participation in The Ometepe Island Soccer Dreams Tournament 2013 and ‘Making Education Possible.’

The students were all smiles during the Soccer Dreams tournament.

June 2013 – Spring is here! And we are planting the seeds of education.

Letter by Sarah Kerr – SchoolBOX Executive Director

Spring is an amazing time of year. The winter has finally gone, and new life is sprouting up all around. At home, we have started our vegetable garden. This is the first garden I’ve had since childhood (another benefit of having my husband – SchoolBOX Founder Tom Affleck – on sabbatical). While preparing our beds, I began thinking about two things; first, how much we have accomplished towards our mission of ‘Making Education Possible’ already in 2013, and secondly, how our little garden is a teacher, and metaphor, for our work at SchoolBOX.

I began to see our growing organization in a new light; the 15,000+ students we are supporting are just like seeds. They appear small and fragile, but within them lies amazing potential for growth and fruit that we cannot even imagine. Without good soil, however, a seed can never flourish. Adequate soil is essential – it provides the plant with vital nutrients, a depth to root into, and a secure foundation from which to reach for the sky. The soil in Nicaragua has been prepared by local heroes for many years. People like Ronald, our Director, who broke the cycle of poverty though education to show kids it was possible; teachers like Antonia who led their communities forward even when ‘school’ was only a teacher and students under a tree. The soil takes generations to prepare, but in Nicaragua, it is now fertile and ready for an amazing harvest.

These are the conditions that we work in – amazing soil cultivated by local experts and thousands of seeds ready for the opportunity to spring up. Just a few key ingredients are needed – and that’s where we come in.

Already this year, we have built 4 new classrooms, and have another 2 underway. We have provided 9,000+ educational packages to eager students, hosted 48 international volunteers and are preparing to distribute 10 mini-libraries. Like trusses and raised beds, these school buildings are the essential tools for the gardeners; the teachers. They provide the structure for classes, shelter the kids from the elements, and even encourage parents to take education seriously and send their children to school. Like water, the school supplies and library books are the life source of education – providing knowledge and a space to brainstorm and imagine new ideas, which transform young minds.

So as you are planting your annuals, tending your perennials, or just enjoying someone else’s garden this season, remember that your support is like the fertilizer for the 15,000+ sprouting seeds that are taking shape in our partner schools in Nicaragua. Thank you for ‘Making Education Possible’.

Enjoy your spring,

Sarah Kerr

June 2013 – Shirley Case Project Update!

The supporters, friends and family of Shirley Case have been involved with SchoolBOX since 2010. They were inspired by Shirley Case, a young Canadian aid-worker, whose life was tragically cut short.

The Shirley Case Project has raised funds for two schools in Nicaragua, and prompted legions of volunteers to travel to Nicaragua to help construct classrooms and inspire students, teachers, and parents.

In 2013, the Shirley Case Project has funded four Books 4 Kids mini libraries, educational packages at the two Shirley Case Schools, and desks at the Jennette Affleck School in Leon.

For a full glimpse of where on the status and details of each program, please click here to see the Donor Progress Report.

SchoolBOX wishes to thank all the friends, family, and supporters of Shirley Case for their efforts in ‘Making Education Possible’

The students at the Shirley Case #1 School receiving their education packages

June 2013 – Run & Support the West Ottawa Girls Soccer Club to get to Nicaragua

How can you combine exercise, fun, and empowering Ottawa Area youth? Join the West Ottawa Girls Soccer Club 5km run on Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Date: Saturday, June 8, 2013- 10am

Place: Stonemeadow Park in Bridlewood – Run will take place on the NCC trail.

What: Join the West Ottawa Girls Soccer Club in a 5km run or walk and help support our journey to make a difference! All funds raised will help offset the costs of the team going to Nicaragua to help build a classroom.

How:Participants can sign up on the day of or by emailing:

Details: Minimum of $10 donation per person and we encourage you to raise more.

Also, check out their Facebook page for the event for more details:

Help the West Ottawa Girls Soccer Club get to Nicaragua!

May 2013 – Equator San Antonio School in Jalapa Inaugurated

On Wednesday May 15, 2013, the community of San Antonio celebrated the inauguration of their new school. The Equator San Antonio School was proudly sponsored by Equator Coffee Roasters (, and also supported by funds from the Amazing People Gala presented by CTV.

A group of volunteers from Equator Coffee visited the school on the inauguration and were touched by the warmth, kindness, and generosity of the community. The community is located near the Nicaraguan border with Honduras, and is situated on top of a mountain at 1000m above sea level.

Equator Coffee Roasters owners, Amber & Craig Hall visited the community in 2012 and were amazed at their resiliency and drive. They were determined to build a school in San Antonio. One year later, they returned for the emotional inauguration.

The entire community was on hand, including all the students, teachers, parents, and even the local coffee cooperative that Equator buys from. SchoolBOX was even surprised that the coffee cooperative had organised educational packages for the children.

The community has so much potential, and sees the value in education. SchoolBOX could not be happier with the new school. The entire SchoolBOX family wishes to thank Equator Coffee Roasters, and the organisers and supporters of the Amazing People Gala presented by CTV.

Together, we are ‘Making Education Possible.’

The completed Equator San Antonio School

Amber, Craig, Joel, and Sammy Hall of Equator Coffee Roasters, in front of the school.

The Equator San Antonio School is located about 1000m above sea level in Northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

May 2013 – Amazing Progress on the Brett #2 School

Construction of the Brett #2 School started on April 29, 2013. The school has been made possibly by funds from the Brett Bentley Crawford Foundation, the Amazing People Gala presented by CTV, and many volunteers the participated first hand in the build.

The community has been very involved in the construction, and even put up a shelter for the volunteers in only one day. The students are all eagerly helping, and interacting with the volunteers.

The school is located in an impoverished area in Central Nicaragua. Their previous school was built by the parents and resembled two shacks of metal, wood, and cement. Over the years, the student population has grown steadily, and a new school will be a welcome addition to their community.

Their 4 classroom/3 washroom school with a soccer pitch will be completed in the Fall.

Check out the pictures below of the progress thus far:

Trucks clear and compact the land for the new school (April 29, 2013)

Foundation prepared, and rebar support structures are put into place (May 14, 2013)

The walls begin to rise (May 27, 2013)

The children loved interacting with all of the international volunteers.

May 2013 – Volunteer Program Coordinator Needed!

SchoolBOX is looking for an energetic, and organised “people person” for the role of Volunteer Program Coordinator. If you live in Toronto, speak Spanish, and would love to help SchoolBOX, ‘Make Education Possible’, please click below to access the job description.

Join the SchoolBOX Team today!

April 2013 – Jennette Affleck School Inaugurated

On April 23rd, 2013, the community of Talchacote celebrated the inaguration of the Jennette Affleck School. Jennette Affleck was one of the pioneers of SchoolBOX. She helped support SchoolBOX in the beginning and has watched the organisation mature and help over 15,000 children at present. She has been a volunteer 6 times with SchoolBOX in Nicaragua.

In February of 2013, Jennette Affleck was part of a group that volunteered to build the school. She made an amazing connection with the community, and they were impressed with her dedication to education in Nicaragua. The Ministry of Education and the community approached SchoolBOX to have the school named after her. SchoolBOX worked hard with government officials to switch the name of the school from Chague 2 to the Jennette Affleck School. Jennette was very touched by this gesture.

The first phase of the Jennette Affleck School has 3 classrooms, and 2 washrooms. SchoolBOX was so impressed with the community’s involvement, that the 4th classroom including a mini-library will be built in the Fall as planned.

SchoolBOX wishes to thank all of the volunteers who h