Nov 27, 2017

Solidarity builds opportunities for youth...

Students during Company Visit to Dell
Students during Company Visit to Dell

¨Going to University was not something I planned. Today, I can say that I have a different mentality, that I love to learn, that my newly achieved knowledge is reflected in my grades and in my effort, that I am proud to by a college student at ULACIT… furthermore, I love to know that I have people that believe in me and that support me in my personal and professional projects. I am deeply thankful with  Fundación Acción Joven not only for helping me believe in myself, but for teaching me how to fly.¨

Anthony, Participant in the Youth Employability Program

Anthony is 18 years old, he lives in the vulnerable community of Alajuelita. For the past year he has been working in the Human Resource Department at BCT Bank.  Anthony is also a student at ULACIT University where he is studying Business Administration.

Cristian is 18, also from Alajuelita, and is currently finishing a technical degree in Banking and Finance Cristian was recently hired in Bridgestone Costa Rica as an Administrative Assistant, after having concluded a three month professional internship.

Saneth is 20, she is from the urban marginal community of La Carpio. Saneth recently graduated from a Technical Program in Administrative Management at Universidad Latina, and is currently working in the financial department at  Evonik, a German multinational company specialized in the chemical industry, with its financial service center for Latin America located in Costa Rica. 

Anthony, Cristian, and Saneth are only three of the 3828 students that have participated in Fundación Acción Joven´s Youth Employability program during the last five years. All of them where students of public high schools in which FAJ implemented the Program, and benefited from the participatory workshops, attended company visits to achieve better understanding of the formal job sector and its requirements, and elaborated a life plan with short, mid and long term goals.  Through this activities Fundación Acción Joven was able to identify them, to elaborate an individual profile, provide close follow up, and to connect them with further opportunities of higher education and employment.

Currently, Costa Rica is the Central American country with the highest numbers of youth unemployment, with an approximate of 172,136 youth between 15 and 24 years of age that are neither working nor studying.  This has very serious implications in terms of economic and social stability and represents a serious challenge that must be attended. Vulnerable youth that are outside the educational system and do not have a formal job are especially vulnerable to being recruited by gangs, participate in illicit activities, and make life choices that separate them from the possibility to achieve social mobility.

 Fundación Acción Joven has been working with vulnerable youth for the past 11 years. This has allowed us to understand that in order to generate a real impact in the lives of our youth it is necessary to transcend the very important technical knowledge, and generate spaces to allow each person`s aspirations and dreams to emerge and flourish.  Thanks to your solidarity, our organization has been able to continue impacting at risk youth and offering them with opportunities to continue with their personal and professional development.

During 2017 the Youth Employability Program was implemented in 18 public high schools located in 6 of the 7 provinces of Costa Rica, impacting a total of 1218 vulnerable youth. Your generosity has allowed us to continue strengthening the program, opening new alternatives of advancement for costarican youth, and supporting our organization in its goal to lead the way in the construction of a more equal and inclusive society with real opportunities for young people in Costa Rica.

 

 

students during company visit to Cummins
students during company visit to Cummins
Students during company visit Tio Pelon Rice field
Students during company visit Tio Pelon Rice field
High School students visit CETAV
High School students visit CETAV
Students visit APM Terminals, Costa Ricas new port
Students visit APM Terminals, Costa Ricas new port

Links:

Jan 29, 2016

Report 2: Help youth in Limon, Costa Rica finish high school

Prodigious Company Visit
Prodigious Company Visit

Report 2: Help youth in Limón, Costa Rica finish high school

Thanks to your support, Fundación Acción Joven has been able to close the year with raised spirits. During the last trimester of 2015, we continued our work in Pacuare High School, reaching out and supporting over 300 students from socially vulnerable contexts. We are very grateful to all of the participants of our First Global Giving Campaign, who together contributed $5,020 to support youth in the community of Pacuare, Limón.

The last three months have been key in our mission of preventing students from abandoning high school. In our effort to empower, motivate and encourage these teenagers to continue their education, we have carried out a series of activities and interventions. Below you will find the details of our main achievements over the last three months. Once again, we´re grateful for your support for our mission to reduce high school dropout in Costa Rica.

Supporting Students Finish the School Year:

Within the Costa Rican education system, October is a key month: the end of the school year is close, high school seniors are preparing for the national exam to graduate from high school, while students in other grades are also preparing for their final exams. The main work carried out in high schools during the last trimester has been to develop effective strategies to prevent students from dropping out and support them in successfully finishing the school year.  

Individual Follow-Up and Home Visits

Together with teachers and counselors during September and October, we carried out visits to the homes of students with numerous absences and other challenges in order to understand the personal and family situations of each student and know how to best support each one in improving their attendance. This follow-up helped us to be able to develop remedial plans for the students to remain in (or return to) school.

During this time, FAJ carried out 22 home visits to students that were at risk of dropping out of school. The aim of the visits is to involve families in the process of motivating the students to remain in school. Home visits also allowed us to understand each student´s individual context, which is vital in order to be able to build a support network for the teenagers.

The FAJ team also carried out 83 individual follow up meetings/sessions with students who needed additional support. In the specific case of Pacuare High School, we needed to provide a great deal of personalized support given the violence that affect the communities where students live. Drug use, fights between rival gangs, family problems related to drugs, unemployment, and poverty are among the main issues that students face and that require extra support from our team.

Workshops and Sessions:

Additionally, we carried out sessions addressing four main topics previously identified as a priority: sexual health, human rights, drug use and employability. These sessions were designed for seventh and tenth graders, both levels being the ones with highest dropout rates.

 The sessions and workshops followed the “Integral Model for the Prevention of Student Drop-out”, a methodology designed by Fundación Acción Joven in which the students are the center of the process and are empowered to lead change in their school and in their own lives by identifying challenges and developing and implementing solutions.

 Youth Employment Program

We continued implementing the Youth Employment Program in Pacuare High School with 10th grade students. Through workshops and sessions that the FAJ team carried out, teenagers had the opportunity to develop and strengthen their soft skills, focusing on: team work, social interaction, assertive communication, positive relationships and conflict resolution. The employability workshops have been particularly successful in enabling the students to understand the importance of their education for obtaining a job and were implemented with strong support from the high school counselor, math, civic, English and social sciences teachers.

The company visits continued during the last trimester of the school year, which allowed students to receive more exposure and to visualize themselves in the future as a professional. Company visits not only represented a great opportunity for the students, but also for the program in general, building a network of institutions committed to empowering and equipping youth in the community of Pacuare.

By the end of 2015, Fundación Acción Joven, in partnership with participating companies, impacted a total of 146 students of Pacuare High School through the Youth Employment Program.

Projects and Activities

Financial Education Workshop: Thanks to a partnership with the National Financial Education Strategy, 10th grade students at Pacuare High School participated in a workshop on finances, credits, and the importance and benefits of having a savings account.

Gotitas de Vida (Drops of Life)- this student club was active in planning activities focused on preventing bullying at the high school and teaching others about tolerance and respect.

Saprissa Foundation: As a strategy to generate teamwork among students, we carried out an initiative called Let´s go to the stadium" in partnership with Saprissa Foundation. The initiative seeks to motivate students to not miss school, to get good grades and to work as a team. After a three month process, the classes with the best academic performance were awarded with a trip to the Saprissa Stadium to attend a soccer game and receive a special recognition. The students from the 7-4 class and the 10-2 class from Pacuare High School won the challenge!

Empowering Teachers and Principals

Fundación Acción Joven seeks to strengthen the institutional capacity of all of high schools where we work. As part of this approach, the FAJ team organized training sessions for administrative staff and teachers in Pacuare High School on how to identify strategic needs and how to create and implement successful projects that respond to the challenges the teachers identify.

Pacuare High School teachers also benefited from the program Movilab Session II organized by our partner organization Fundación Omar Dengo. The training instructed teachers on how to use technology to improve their lesson plans and make the learning process more effective and engaging for the students.

In October, we held our annual ¨Successful Principals¨ workshop. It consisted of a three day seminar that allowed principals from around the country, including Pacuare High School, to exchange experiences and participate in practical sessions to reinforce leadership, strategic planning, and management and communication skills, among others.

 Results

We closed 2015 with very positive results. Our intervention in Pacuare High School has had a positive impact among the students, visible through the considerable reduction of the dropout rates. For 7th grade the number of students who abandoned the education system declined from a 32.4% (before FAJ´s work) to 10.9% in 2015, while the 10th grade statistics went from a 15.8% previous to FAJ´s intervention to a 7.69% in 2015. It is very gratifying to see that our efforts and the commitment of the youth and other partners have succeeded in empowering youth from at-risk contexts to stay in school and out of the streets. Your contribution has been key in this process!

Thanks again for your solidarity and support!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this project or would like more information on how to stay involved.

Fundacion Saprissa Lets go to the Stadium visit
Fundacion Saprissa Lets go to the Stadium visit
Successful Principals workshop
Successful Principals workshop

Links:

Sep 18, 2015

Report 1: Help Youth in Limon finish high school

Company visit to DELL
Company visit to DELL

Thanks to your support, Fundación Acción Joven is helping more than 300 youth in Limón, Costa Rica, finish high school! We are grateful for the generosity of everyone who participated in our first Global Giving campaign and helped us raise $5,020, allowing us to continue our work impacting youth from socially vulnerable communities.

The last several months have been busy for our staff and the youth we work with. The following details some of the major accomplishments and activities we carried out over the past several months and through the first half of September with students at Pacuare High School. Thanks for partnering with us in this work.

Preventing High School Dropout after the July Vacation

In July, public school students have a two week vacation. The time right after this vacation period is critical for providing follow-up and support, as some students do not return to high school after vacation and end up dropping out. Fundación Acción Joven provided support to Pacuare High School in assessing which students hadn´t returned to school right after the vacation period and in providing follow-up (calls and home visits) to help students return to school. In August alone, FAJ staff carried out 33 individual follow-up visits with students, helping them address and overcome academic, social and family issues. 

Youth Employment Program

During August, 58 10th grade students at Pacuare High School have been participating in sessions focused on Youth Employment led by Fundación Acción Joven staff in Limón. The students are improving their social skills, such as team work, assertive communication, positive interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution, which are critical abilities for getting and maintaining a job. The students have also learned how to prepare a résumé, apply for jobs and do well in an interview.

As part of this Program, Fundación Acción Joven has also organized company visits for the students to a variety of businesses in different sectors. These visits enable the students to learn about different job opportunities and the requirements to work in a given sector or position. Also, as the company employees share with the students about their work and how they got to their position, the students are motivated to finish high school.

So far, the students have visited companies in San José, including:

  • 19 students participated in the company visit to DELL  
  • 58 students visited Promérica Bank
  • 20 students visited Prodigious (a digital content and software development company)

After one of the company visits, one of the Fundación Acción Joven project coordinators shared the following regarding the impact these visits generate for the participating youth:

“The company visits have been a complete success. The students have broadened their perspectives, not only at an academic level, but also with regard to their professional goals. This type of activity allows the youth to see that there´s thousands of positive options in the country that they can choose, provided that they work hard and study.

The shift in the social paradigm that we are seeking to generate is happening through planting a seed in the youth that with hard work and dedication, they can achieve the goals that they set…The companies treat the youth really well and the youth notice it. They feel important, and now, many of them have a dream, and they realize that it is possible to overcome the challenges they face.”

Drops of Life Group: preventing bullying and promoting respect

We have also been supporting a group of 15 students that have suffered bullying and social exclusion. Through workshops with FAJ on human rights and other topics, the students have formed a group, which they named Gotitas de Vida (Drops of Life) and have carried out activities to raise awareness at Pacuare High School regarding tolerance, respect and bullying prevention. With support from FAJ, an artist and the high school administration, the group painted a mural promoting social inclusion and provided information to fellow students and teachers on respect for diversity of sexual orientation.

As a result of this work, the group was invited to present their initiative at a bullying prevention event in August at the National Distance Education University (UNED) in San José. As part of the group´s visit to San José, FAJ also organized a workshop for the students with a nutritionist and someone who had overcome an eating disorder, in order to support students who are struggling with body image issues and eating disorders.

Celebration of Limón and Afro Costa Rican Culture Day

On August 31st, Fundación Acción Joven supported and joined with entire Pacuare High School and the community to celebrate Limón and Afro Costa Rican Culture Day with special dances, food and cultural activities. Promoting cultural and positive recreational activities for youth is an important part of what we do and helps promote a sense of belonging and identity for youth with their high school and community.

Pacuare High School Celebrates its 5th Anniversary  

On September 7th, Fundación Acción Joven joined with Pacuare High School in celebrating its 5th Anniversary. FAJ helped prepare for the celebration ceremony and was honored to be recognized by the Pacuare High School Principal for our work in supporting the high school and helping prevent high school dropout. 

Graduation of Minds in Action—Youth Women in Technology Program

A group of five young women students from Pacuare High School were chosen to be part of the MenTe Program, an initiative of one of our partners, Ideas en Acción. This project promotes young Costa Rican women´s participation in science and technology. The participating youth from Pacuare High School traveled to San José for training sessions on Saturdays over 12 weeks, where they learned how to program, received support to develop their leadership skills and learned how to develop and pitch a business idea. Fundación Acción Joven provided follow up support for the participating young women and was pleased to join in celebrating their success with the graduation ceremony on September 12th.

Thanks again for your support!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this project or would like more information on how to stay involved. 

Drops of Life Group presents at a university event
Drops of Life Group presents at a university event
Fundacion Accion Joven sessions with 10th graders
Fundacion Accion Joven sessions with 10th graders

Links:

 
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