Aug 2, 2019

The Next Chapter-Four More High School Graduates for 2019; Planning Forward

On July 20, CAA presented Second Term 2019 Scholarship Awards to our 27 participating students, of which 23 students and many of their families were able to attend the event.  Over a dozen CAA Members were present to congratulate the students on completing the First Term and to encourage them to double their efforts to ensure a strong finish in December for the 2019 school year. The students received vouchers valued at over $4,000 to be redeemed for school supplies, shoes, and school uniforms at three local participating merchants. 

Four of our Colegio students are scheduled to graduate this year, adding to our four prior graduates.  CAA has assisted these graduating students by paying for up to 3 university or technical school entrance exams per graduating student.  We learned from past students that money is not always available when needed to pay the registration for these exams -- therefore, some of our students had not been able to sign up for the entrance exams and enroll in university right out of high school. In May, three of our four upcoming graduates took advantage of our offer and completed entrance exams allowing each to apply to 3 public universities. Less than $120 in exam fees eliminated this previously unrecognized barrier.  

For these graduating students, we will also provide other assistance.  In August, we will host a post Colegio higher education planning work session for junior and senior level students.  We offer these workshops to get students and their parents prepared for post Colegio training: identifying application deadlines, information and documentation requirements to apply for university/technical schools, and documentation-timelimes to apply for financial assistance.  Our objective is to get our scholarship students focused on higher education/training and careers well in advance of graduating Colegio, and to firm up financial assistance opportunities earlier. Costa Rica provides financial grants for citizens of limited family means enabling academically eligible students to attend public universities or technical institutes.  For low income families, these are grants, not loans subject to repayment. In this way, Costa Rica is investing heavily in higher education for its citizens.  However, non-citizen immigrant families, do not qualify for these citizen-only benefits for university studies; therefore, we need to help these families earlier and work harder to help them locate and qualify for NGO university/techical school assistance opportunities.       

A few of our students struggled in the First Term---primarily these were students transitioning into Colegio from elementary school, and their first term, 7th grade, report card scores presented a real wake-up call.  Our counselors identified some additional mentoring and assistance for the coming term to help these students improve their grades.  

Despite the challenges faced by these low income families, it is especially gratifying to hear the pride in the voices of the parents. How proud they are of the academic success of their children, how grateful they are for the educational support being provided, and how hopeful they are that a brighter future is around the corner. Getting the first child through high school is a real family accomplishment, and that success sets expectations for younger siblings to folow the same path. 

Because of caring supporters participating through Global Giving, and volunteers here in Costa Rica, the future can be brighter and more hopeful for most of these students and their families, and those that follow. Thank you one and all for caring enough to make a diffference.

   

Juliana's Next Goal-University Admission 2020!
Juliana's Next Goal-University Admission 2020!
May 9, 2019

Another Educational Milestone - Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Honors Trabajo Social Degree in Hand, What's Next?
Honors Trabajo Social Degree in Hand, What's Next?

The Community Action Alliance's Educational Scholarship Program celebrated a very significant milestone last week, when our University Scholarship Student, Fernanda, received her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from the University of Costa Rica - Sede Occidente.

Not only has Fernanda spent hundreds of hours in her role as the Educational Scholarship Program Administrative Intern, but she has excelled in her University courses.  She was recognized as "Graduacion de Honor", having scored above 90 on all her college coursework over the past 4 years. We are so proud to see this energetic, resourceful, and dedicated young woman reach this goal. She is now focused on completing her thesis and community service hours to be eligible to obtain her  Degree of Licenciatura as a professional Social Worker.  

Throughout her university course work, Fernanda was gaining valuable experience as a Program Intern by working directly with school teachers, counselors, psychologists, social workers, students, parents, and governmental agencies to help keep our 30 scholarship students on track in their pursuit of a high school degree.  And, Fernanda has been a mentor/counselor to many of the students; it is fair to say that a number of these students would have left school if not for the concern that Fernanda brought to her work, and the assistance CAA was able to provide to these financially challenged families.

Additionally, Fernanda was fortunate to receive the counseling and mentoring of an Education Committee Member who is a retired but licensed Social Worker, and guidance from University Social Work instructors.  As Fernanda has expressed many times, the Scholarship Program Administrative Intern role provided her with invaluable hours of real life, practical experience doing exactly what she will need to do in her future career, assessing financial and social needs, and identifying practical interventions for students, families and institutions to improve the lives of Costa Ricans. Additionally, she gained valuable experience collaborating and working with many retired US educated nurses, accountants,  business administrators, and teachers who serve as volunteers and decision-makers on the CAA Education Committee -- helping to develop program goals, financial and social need assessment tools,  monitoring performance of the students that participate in this program, and program marketing. And, Fernanda has received organization administration experience by serving 2 terms as a Vocal on the CAA Junta Directiva (Board of Directors). 

Earning her Bachelor's Degree is a big milestone for Fernanda, but it will be only one of many to come, as she sets her sights on her next objective in 2020--obtaining her Licenciatura and starting her professional Social Work career.    

We are so grateful for the support of GlobalGiving donors, and the CAA Educational Scholarship Program volunteers in Costa Rica.  Because of these collective efforts, we know that this dedicated young professional is prepared to use her social work training and compassion to improve the lives and opportunities of Costa Ricans.  It truly takes a village!  

Feb 11, 2019

EDUCATION, AN INVESTMENT FOR LIFE

One of six academic achievement winners (center)
One of six academic achievement winners (center)

On January 25, 2019, the Community Action Alliance’s Education Committee presented scholarship vouchers for school year 2019 to twenty-seven students.  The class includes one 5th year University student of Social Work,  serving as a Program Administrator Intern, and 26 sixth through eleventh graders. We welcomed 6 new students into the 2019 scholarship class, one entering eleventh-grade and five sixth-grade students. 

 At the awards event, we were pleased to recognize and congratulate our three December 2018 high school graduates – each representing the first high school graduate in the family!  Two of the three will pursue university study and one is enrolled in English classes.  Each of the graduates received a voucher redeemable for books at a local book store.

Additionally, we recognized six high academic achievers for year 2018 for earning GPA’s of at least 94; and one additional student, now in his 7th year in the scholarship program, received a meritorious improvement award for earning a GPA of 91. All seven students received a voucher redeemable for books. 

 Not all of our students hit these high marks for we had to drop one student for continued failing grades, however, the remaining classmates and their families appear to understand the importance of education as a strong foundation for future success and want to work hard to take advantage of this opportunity.

As you may recall from our last report, many students saw limited class time last fall because of the near-nationwide teacher’s strike.  Because of this strike, the Education Ministry identified about 250 specific foundational topics that were missed, and each topic must be included as extra instruction this year.  Hopefully, our scholarship students will be able to take this additional load in stride.   

During this strike period, to keep the students focused during their “involuntary vacation”, one CAA member organized and provided special English Conversation Classes for our scholarship students — over a dozen students participated in these classes to improve their conversational abilities.  Students reported the sessions to be both informative and fun!  

This school term, the students received vouchers and assistance of over $6,000 dollars, redeemable for school supplies, shoes, and required school uniforms at our four participating local merchants. Additionally, we identified six extra-special need students for additional, periodic assistance during the school year, and one student that required new prescription glasses.  For school year 2019, we expect to provide almost $10,500 in direct educational support for students in San Ramon, Costa Rica.

This level of educational support would not be possible without the generosity of donors through Global Giving, and through the additional work of our volunteers and supporters. An investment in education is a real life-changer for these students and families desperately looking for a brighter future - your investment now is an investment for life! 

Six New Scholarship Students for 2019
Six New Scholarship Students for 2019
CAA Scholarship Student with CAA Member
CAA Scholarship Student with CAA Member
2019 CAA Scholarship Students with CAA Members
2019 CAA Scholarship Students with CAA Members
 
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