Building Bridges with Bolivia


Press Release


Alyson Rumley,

Advancement Director

West End Day School

West End Day School Celebrates its Fifth #GivingTuesday with “Building Bridges with Bolivia” – a long-term community building project through art and connection.

Upper West Side, NYC – November 19, 2020 – West End Day School is participating in its fifth #GivingTuesday, a global generosity movement. Now, more than ever, there is a need to transform our communities- and Giving Tuesday encourages people and organizations to unleash their power to do just that. #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and will fall on December 1st this year, following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Although these widely recognized shopping events are known to kick off the holiday season, #GivingTuesday’s mission of “doing good” and “showing up for an issue or people we care about” should be the follow up that we pay attention to this year- more than ever before.

West End Day School has seen #GivingTuesday as the perfect opportunity to teach our students about the importance of giving back to our communities. Four years ago, this prompted us to create an Annual Community Thankfulness Day that coincides with the message projected on #GivingTuesday. Each year WEDS has teamed up with different causes and organized different fundraising events. This year, we decided to launch a long-term, community building project in lieu of our typical one day event. The concept of our idea was built upon the idea that relationships matter.  

West End Day School is teaming up with an organization that has a special connection to our very own school community. Our WEDS Art Teacher of 17 years, Robert Aitchison, has collaborated with the Alalay Foundation in Bolivia for the past six years. The foundation’s mission is to help change poverty conditions in high risk children and families in Bolivia. Mr. Robert created his own project in partnership with this foundation back in 2015. Arte Fogata, loosely interpreted to mean “Art Bonfire”, provides engaging art workshops for children living in these at-risk and disadvantaged circumstances. Similar to his work with our own children at West End Day School, his workshops offer children the opportunity to explore creativity and art making in a safe, nurturing, and positive environment.

West End Day School will organize a two-directional community building project between these at-risk children in Bolivia and our own uniquely vulnerable students at WEDS. Both groups will simultaneously create a thematic-based art project, appropriately focused on gratitude for #GivingTuesday. We will also arrange for a pen-pal system among these two groups. Building further upon this idea of strengthening our communities, we will be enlisting the generous help of Spanish Honor Society students at Bellmore-Merrick Central High School, a public school in Long Island, to help our messages be interpreted. We hope to convey to all of these communities that connection is universal and language differences do not need to be a barrier. Lastly, WEDS will be collecting In-Kind Donations for technology, safety, academic, and art needs for this Bolivian community of children and adolescents.

Carrie Catapano, Head of West End Day School, first envisioned this collaboration after seeing a post appealing for support of Mr. Robert’s program, Arte Fogata. “It’s energizing to see the compassion my dear friend and colleague [“Mr. Robert”] has towards others. Immediately, I knew just who could support him: his WEDS family.” Not only did Ms. Catapano believe it was an opportunity to support this inspiring program and the community it serves, but it was also an opportunity for WEDS’ students. “Community building is at the heart of everything we do and what better time to build upon that than now, with projects that are meaningful to people we are connected to.”

About West End Day School 

West End Day School is a nonprofit independent school that prides itself on being “more than a school”. What makes us stand out from other K-6 elementary schools is our focus on social-emotional learning- every step of the way. Being “more than a school” means providing a nurturing environment that feels more like a second home. WEDS provides a place where students can build on their strengths so they can feel strong enough to take on challenges. 

WEDS understand there are many factors that add to children’s success at school. At WEDS, the foundation of our program highlights that all behavior has meaning, and how you feel impacts how you learn. WEDS believes relationships matter and having positive relationships with adults and peers at school make all the difference when it comes to learning. 

West End Day School knows how important stability can be for our students and families, especially during unsteady times. With the implementation of innovative health and safety measures during this pandemic, we’ve been able to provide full, in-person learning for our students since the start of the school year.


Founded in 1990 through the initiative of Claudia Gonzáles, current Director of the institution, Alalay’s mission is to help change poverty conditions in high risk children and families in Bolivia. It was conceived with the purpose of “recover[ing] boys, girls and teenagers who have taken to the streets as their home, constructing opportunities, encouraging restitution, and exercising and promoting their fundamental rights.”

Over time, the organization has constructed homes that provide a safe haven for boys and girls to grow and prepare themselves for adult life. The Alalay Foundation has also implemented different programs that focus on social reintegration and prevention of social risks that children and adolescents in highly vulnerable situations face. These include therapeutic programs, academic tutoring, technical training support, and more.

The Alalay Foundation has created a “community where adolescents are the agents of their own development. The sense of belonging which so strengthens and fortifies the children is arduously strived towards, in order that the children take charge of their home and of their lives and as a result, begin to care for themselves.”

JOIN THE MOVEMENT WITH US. In a time of global crisis and disconnection, let’s make a difference and choose generosity.

To learn more about West End Day School, please visit: 

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