Organization for Youth Empowerment

OYE has served the at-risk youth population of El Progreso, Honduras since its foundation in 2005. Through the years, OYE has evolved from a straightforward scholarship program to an integrated educational and leadership program with the mission of forming socially-conscious youth leaders who are agents of change in their communities. We envision a society where Honduran youth are active contributors to the positive development of their country.
Jul 28, 2016

A Girl Empowered

Empowered young woman Ivelis in OYE
Empowered young woman Ivelis in OYE's radio booth

Dear Loyal Friends,

Can you imagine your life without education? Working long hours at a low-skilled, low-wage job just to survive-that is, if you can even find one. Living a life of stifled dreams and feeling powerless to change your circumstances.

Growing up in Honduras, it isn't too hard to imagine. This is the bleak reality awaiting the over 50% of Honduran youth who never finish high school. And to think that for $50 a month, you can ensure that one promising high school student not only makes it to their high school graduation, but is equipped to make a successful transition to college - a transition too few young people in Honduras have the opportunity to make. Only 14% of Honduran high school graduates enter college, in comparison to 90% of OYE's youth scholars.

Ivelis is one of the few, but it has been a bumpy road. Money was always tight in Ivelis' family, but the situation only got worse when her parents separated. She was in 9th grade at the time and all of a sudden her education was no longer a priority. Despite economic difficulties and family instability, Ivelis persisted and supported by an OYE scholarship, she graduated from high school at the top of her class in 2012. But beyond encouraging academic success, OYE became a second home and the place where she has found her voice.

In her words: "OYE has helped me grow. I have become more responsible and learned how to face life's challenges... I've found a place where I belong."

Now 21, Ivelis is attending college and holds a leadership role in CREA, an OYE initiative that has provided comprehensive sex education, with a focus on gender and rights, to over 750 teens in less than two years. But beyond energizing workshops and providing critical information on sexual and reproductive health, Ivelis has become a trusted confidant for many teen girls, listening to their troubles and answering tough questions they do not feel comfortable asking other adults in their lives. Today she is a leader and we could not be more proud of the empowered, dynamic, and reslilient young woman she has become.

While various international foundations provide crucial funding to cover much of our direct program costs, it is your contributions that prepare our young leaders with the confidence and skills to lead these invaluable programs that reach thousands of disadvantaged teens each year.

Today I write to thank you for your past contributions and ask for your continued support of our work to empower promising youth like Ivelis. Without valuable contributions like yours, at-risk youth will continue to go without an education, their only means to build a better and brighter future in Honduras.

On behalf of all of us at OYE, and most especially our youth, thank you for your support and belief in our work. We do not take you for granted.

Sincerely,

Rocío Mendoza
Executive Director

Ivelis leading sex ed workshop in local school
Ivelis leading sex ed workshop in local school
Our director w/ youth at 11th Anniversary Expo
Our director w/ youth at 11th Anniversary Expo
Ivelis w/ OYE Comunica radio crew
Ivelis w/ OYE Comunica radio crew

Links:

Apr 27, 2016

100 Strong

Ashly (center) at local TV station with CREA
Ashly (center) at local TV station with CREA

Dear Friends,

At the end of last year, we set a goal to extend 100 scholarships to disadvantaged young women and men for the 2016 academic year. And guess what? We did it! Thanks to the generous support of our donors (you!), our group of promising youth scholars grew from 75 to 100+ in just one year! This January 20th, we welcomed 44 new scholars to the OYE family, 60% being adolescent girls and young women.

One such girl is Ashly. First coming into contact with OYE through our sexual and reproductive health project, CREA, Ashly demonstrated leadership potential from day one. She stood out among her peers by actively participating in every workshop and protagonizing a media campaign to prevent adolescent pregnancy. Upon receiving the news that she had been selected to receive a scholarship: "It was a beautiful moment when I found out I would be an OYE scholar. I started out as a volunteer because I enjoyed participating in the activities and engaging with my peers. I actually missed the deadline to apply for a scholarship, but I think my eagerness to participate and the relationships I formed with staff caused them to give me a chance. My goal is to not simply be a scholar, but to grow within the organization and finish high school."

Ashly, like many of her peers at OYE, comes from a broken home with limited support and scarce economic resources. She also lives in one of El Progreso's most problematic barrios, known for its deep-rooted problems of violence, poverty and teen pregnancy. In contrast to this desperate landscape, OYE is a place of hope and opportunity; not just for Ashly, but for all of the youth who walk through our doors. (And they are many!) On their behalf, we thank you for your continued support of our work.

In other news, our youth-led programs in the arts, communications and sports have kicked into full gear in 2016. The art program "Arte La Calle" already has two community murals under its belt and has started a series of oil-painting workshops for some of its most advanced artists. Youth in the graphic design program "DiseñOYE" are honing their photography skills and hosting workshops in the community, promoting photography as a powerful means for youth to express themselves and their reality. The once-independent radio, magazine and TV programs have fused into one cohesive communications program, "OYE Comunica," which recently celebrated "Spanish Language Day" (Día del Idioma) with over 500 children and youth at a local elementary/middle school, carrying out a variety of literary activities and games, such as an essay contest, public speaking contest and spelling bee, among others. Most recently, youth from the sports program "Deportes en Acción" organized a soccer tournament with youth leaders from two local elementary/middle schools, where approximately 150 teens, boys and girls, from five local schools came together in a day of friendly competition as a means of preventing violence and promoting sports and healthy lifestyles among youth from at-risk communities.

This work is only possible through the generousity of the individuals, businesses and foundations that believe in the work we are doing each and every day to educate and empower the next generation of young leaders in Honduras. Please consider continuing to support our work by making your contribution today! With your support, we can offer even more girls like Ashly the transformative opportunity to finish high school and pursue higher education.

In appreciation,
Amanda

Youth of Arte La Calle starting community mural
Youth of Arte La Calle starting community mural
"Spanish Language Day" celebration at local school
"Spanish Language Day" celebration at local school
Teen girls at soccer tournament
Teen girls at soccer tournament
2016 OYE Scholars at Induction Ceremony
2016 OYE Scholars at Induction Ceremony
Jan 19, 2016

In the Spotlight

OYE Reps w/ FLOTUS Michelle Obama at White House
OYE Reps w/ FLOTUS Michelle Obama at White House

Dear Friends of OYE:

Warmest greetings in the new year! 2015 was an incredible year for OYE, as we celebrated 10 years of empowering Honduran youth. And as if that wasn't enough to celebrate, we have some really amazing news to share with you!

Exactly two months ago at the White House, OYE received the 2015 International Spotlight Award of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award to OYE's representatives who flew to Washington for this incredible event: Executive Director Rocío Mendoza, OYE youth scholars Jefry Amaya and Claudia Pavón, and Development Coordinator Amanda Hall. OYE was the sole international program recognized among a dozen extraordinary national programs, all using art to engage at-risk youth.

What a remarkable recognition for OYE!

This holiday season, 23 young people have reached a milestone that over half of young Hondurans never reach: high school graduation. And equally exciting news: 22 of our graduates will be enrolling in the university next year with the support of our scholarship program.

In a country where over 50% of young people never finish high school and only 14% have access to higher education, 95% of OYE scholars complete high school and 90% of high school graduates continue on to university.

You make this work possible.

Since 2005, your support has provided hundreds of young poeple with the opportunity to finish high school and obtain access to higher education. They emerge as confident, skilled and motivated young adults who will contribute to building a positive future for all Hondurans, starting within their homes, schools and communities.

But OYE's transformative work lies not in the statistics, but in the personal stories of its youth.

Let's go back to Jefry. Raised by a single mother, Jefry is one of seven brothers and sisters. Despite the family's extremely harsh economic situation, his mother always kept Jefry and his siblings in school. In 2011,Jefry applied for and received an OYE scholarship, which eased the burden of his educational expenses. Today, Jefry is a second-year college student and the first person in his family's history to attend university.

In his words: "OYE is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. My family has limited resources and it is because of OYE that I was able to finish high school and continue studying at the university. I always think about what would have happened to me if I had never found OYE. It is most likely that I would have had to drop out of school to help provide for my family, maybe even leave Honduras. What I do know is that being a part of OYE has changed my life."

There are so many stories of resilience and hope like Jefry's; stories of youth staying in Honduras, confronting the turmoil that surrounds them and giving back to their communities.

Because of your generous and loyal support over the years, together with growing support within Honduras, we are pleased to say that our goal for 2016 is to offer 100 high school and university scholarships. (Just a reminder: For $500, you can provide a one-year high school scholarship; and for $650, a one-year university scholarship.)

With your help, we can reach and even surpass this number and ensure that disadvantaged, motivated youth are given the opportunity to discover their potential as leaders and pursue their education and their dreams. Can we continue to count on your support this year?

In appreciation,

Ana Luisa Ahern (Co-Founder)

OYE scholar at high school graduation in December
OYE scholar at high school graduation in December
OYE staff w/ high school grad and his proud mother
OYE staff w/ high school grad and his proud mother
OYE family at End of the Year Celebration
OYE family at End of the Year Celebration

Links:

 
   

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