Submitted by Kathleen Duncan, Board of Directors
In 2016 I started a program called ‘Educarte’ to provide young people in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico with a path out of poverty through education. This program is rooted in my very strong belief that where a child starts in life should not determine where they finish and that the best tool we can give a young person to change their outcome in life is access to quality educational opportunities.
After many years vacationing in Puerto Peñasco, I learned that a lack of resources was forcing many parents in this community to choose between meeting their children’s basic needs and sending them to school. Quite honestly, this discovery broke my heart and led me to this work.
Understanding Community Needs & A Long-Term Investment
Before starting this program, I spent more than three years immersing myself in the community. During this time, I learned to speak the language, built strong relationships with local families, and learned about the many obstacles preventing kids from either accessing or succeeding in the local public school system. I then formed a local advisory group and, together, we decided that the key to the success of this program would be commitment and consistency. These young people would need us to commit to them and provide them with the consistent, ongoing resources and support they would need to not only go to school but to thrive inside and outside the classroom—day after day, month after month, and year after year.
Because we were focused on long-term, generational change, we knew results would not come quickly. However, our strong hope was that with consistency, commitment, and time, we could provide young people in this community with access to educational opportunities that would enable them to change their outcomes in life. Six years later, I could not be more thrilled to share the story of Isai. His journey has taken us from believing we can help young people break the cycle of poverty they come from to knowing that we can.
Meet Puerto Peñasco's Newest Civil Engineer
In the summer of 2016 Isai was a dedicated student who had just finished his second year of high school. Unfortunately, his single mother was not earning enough to pay for him to continue his studies that fall. Isai entered our new Educarte program, and we committed to helping him finish high school. When we learned that Isai dreamed of going on to college and pursuing a career as a Civil Engineer, we told him that if he would fully commit to this goal, we would commit to helping him reach it.
Not only did Isai graduate from high school but last month I had the tremendous privilege of attending his college graduation celebration. Even more exciting is that by the time he received his degree in Civil Engineering he already had a job offer from a regional construction firm.
Six years ago, when I met this family, his mother cried when telling me how badly she wanted her son to be able to graduate from high school and go on to college so that he could have hope for a better life. Last month at his graduation celebration she and I cried together as we watched him achieve his, and his family’s, dream. As I drove away that night it occurred to me that this young man had just shown us that we no longer believe that we can help young people change their outcome in life--we now know that we can!