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Since 2017, HP employees in Costa Rica have volunteered more than 5,000 hours enabling students in underserved communities to learn new skills and improve their economic future.

HP employees everywhere are passionate about using their time and skills to give back to their communities. In Costa Rica, one of the many ways they do this is by delivering skills training programs to accelerate digital equity and break down the digital divide. One such program is Hogares Conectados (Connected Homes), an initiative from the Costa Rican government to provide connectivity and training to underserved communities. The program uses HP LIFE as a primary teaching and learning resource.

HP LIFE is a free IT and business skills training program from the HP Foundation. It is available online, offline, and in person (where safe) and offers learners access to more than 30 interactive courses in eight languages. It is also an adaptable educational resource used on the ground by trainers, educators, and mentors.

Employee volunteers from HP Costa Rica’s Heredia site had supported Hogares Conectados since 2017, delivering training in a traditional classroom-style setting. By the end of 2019, more than 561 participants had progressed through the program. But in 2020, as the team were welcoming a new cohort of students, the computer labs they had been using were forced to close because of the pandemic.

 “When it became clear we could no longer deliver in-person training, we developed a new virtual program built solely around HP LIFE offering entrepreneurship and business skills training to participants, many of whom had lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic,” said Karol Zeledon, HP Costa Rica social impact and sustainability lead.

Three hundred and sixty participants took part in the new virtual program which kicked off in April 2020. One hundred and forty-seven were students looking for guidance to bring a business idea to life. Another 213 were small business owners whose companies had never had an online presence before. Working in parallel with educators from the University of Costa Rica, who delivered a significant proportion of the training thanks to grants received from the HP Foundation, more than 70 HP employees volunteered more than 700 hours to support the program. Participants took all 32 HP LIFE courses and used their newfound skills to develop a comprehensive business plan, create a company webpage, and build an online store for an existing business or, in the case of the students, a business they would like to set up.

Students who graduated from the program were awarded a certificate from the Science, Technology and Telecommunications Ministry of Costa Rica endorsing their skills. They also took part in a virtual graduation ceremony in which congratulations were extended by HP Chief Executive Officer, Enrique Lores and President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado.

“The HP LIFE program took me out of my comfort zone. It took away my fears during the pandemic. With the help of my family, colleagues, and above all the heart of the HP volunteers, I left the uncertainty and little by little the strength came to me to continue and find an opportunity. The course became the space to tighten the nuts and keep working on what I love.” –HP LIFE graduate, Costa Rica

Watch the video to hear from students who took part in the HP LIFE program.

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