Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty

by The Community Action Alliance
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
Give the Gift of Education to Children in Poverty
JCS, July 2016 Scholarship Awards
JCS, July 2016 Scholarship Awards

All 23 of the CAA Educational Scholarship students are working hard as they approach the last 8 weeks of the 2016 school year, but our spotlight today is on a quiet, determined 12th grade student who was raised in the coffee producing mountains west of San Ramon. 

Josué (Joshua) finishes the 12 grade this December, and is preparing to take his Bachellerato Tests necessary to get his diploma. Gaining a high school diploma will be a first for the family, and Josué and his sister, also in high school, have been encouraged by their parents who are also taking courses after work to get their own high school diplomas.  Both parents dropped out of school many years ago, as was customary then, in order to work the coffee fields and raise a family. In fact, in Josué’s rural pueblo, only a handful of the parents of students now of high school age progressed beyond the 6th or 8th grade, and only two actually completed high school.  So, for this family, earning a high school diploma is a very big deal!

Josué and his family have faced numerous challenges during his high school years --- the family lost their home and all its furnishings in a fire a few years ago, and it took a concerted family effort to recover from that loss.  We were able to help Josué replace his laptop, but this fire was devastating and disrupted his school work. 

And, like many students expected to already know some English as a second language before entering high school, Josué struggled because his rural elementary school did not have an English instructor. With the help of local English-speaking tutors including CAA volunteers, Josué has been able to progress to the final Bachellerato tests in November.   

And, Josué’s preparation was not just limited to studying in high school---he also works many weekends to support his education and family, and he participates in a young adult leadership group in San Ramon based on recommendations from high school officials.

We wish Josué success with his tests and achieving that diploma.  Hopefully, it will open the door to university studies, or a promising career.  

This also is a milestone to celebrate for the CAA Educational Scholarship program. Josué is the first of our CAA scholarship program student to be able to reach for that diploma. Looking forward to 2018, three more CAA students will likely stand at the same point, sweating out their Bachillerato Tests, and, hopefully, marching forward to receive a high school diploma. 

We share this success story with you, our generous Global Giving supporters.  Your gifts helped to prepare Josué to get this diploma, and with your continued support, more students will have the opportunity to achieve the same. By working together, we are making a difference, one student at a time.

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Francisco's Smile_ Says It All! CAA Awards July 20
Francisco's Smile_ Says It All! CAA Awards July 20

On July 16th, the CAA Education Committee presented Educational Scholarship vouchers to 23 worthy students to get these students ready for the second term of the school year. This term’s recipients included 14 elementary students, 9 high school students, and 1 University of Costa Rica student serving as the scholarship program administrator Intern. This term’s awards represent an investment of almost 1,750, 000 colones (about $3,200 USD) to buy the shoes, uniforms, and school supplies that help keep these students in school.    

The theme of this session was student leadership development, citizen responsibility, and giving back through volunteerism.

Our program administrator Intern, lead a group activity to identify and focus on personal goals: Each of the students had the opportunity to introduce themselves, state their academic and personal development goals, and to identify their favorite activity.  It is no secret in Costa Rica that soccer is the national sport, so it was no surprise that soccer was the favorite activity.  However, one young woman reported that working with computers was her passion - a student that is willing to break away from the pack!

And, to encourage leadership among our high school scholarship students, FRR also challenged these students to examine the importance of water in their daily lives, and identify opportunities for citizens to prepare for an increasingly drought-impacted Central America.  This challenge was introduced in an earlier June  session, and the student panel reported their findings at the Awards Presentation on the 16th.

  • The student panel identified the important role of forests in protecting our natural water resource-production areas; proper waste disposal and recycling; and healthy eating choices that reduce the impact of cattle as a source of pollution, erosion, and as a driver of the conversion of forests into pastures.
  • Additionally, the students identified the need for improved awareness of the impact of trash and waste management on communities and the quality of water resources; the need for more training on water conservation practices around the home and in agriculture; and the impact of agro-chemical use as a contaminant of surface and ground water/general health.
  • In summary, the panel recognized that Costa Rica’s historical water abundance situation is changing, and citizens and the government must take action to more carefully manage water resources over the coming decades. And, introducing this topic to elementary students at a young level was suggested as the way to build awareness and gradually change wasteful and destructive practices.

JF, CAA Education Committee Volunteer and licensed social worker, engaged the students on the importance of adopting a culture of volunteerism – to identify opportunities to grow and develop personal leadership skills through volunteer activities.  If they do, these students will be better prepared to become productive citizens, stand out in the job market, and provide benefits to the community. The help that is being provided to these students through the  CAA organization comes with expectations - those receiving help now should make the time to volunteer and help others in the future. In response to Johanna’s comments, a number of parents voiced their support for encouraging youngsters and parents to volunteer for the benefit of the community, and thanked the CAA for the support.    

Additionally, the Committee identified 9 students, mostly female, who are very interested in mathematics.  To encourage these students to continue their interest in math and science, the Committee wants to offer an additional recognition for excellence in these STEM subject areas at the 2017 awards presentation. STEM prepared students are in demand in the job market, and encouraging young women to pursue these non-traditional academic paths/careers could provide an economic bridge to help the family out of poverty.  

You hold the keys! This CAA educational support program would not be possible without the generous contributions of donors through Global Giving, and CAA Committee Member volunteers who raise funds locally. Working together, we can continue to make a difference here in San Ramon, Costa Rica, one student at a time.   

Maryeth with CAA Member Linda D.
Maryeth with CAA Member Linda D.
CAA Awards_July 2016 Challenge_Water Resourcs
CAA Awards_July 2016 Challenge_Water Resourcs
CAA Scholarship Students, Second Term 2016
CAA Scholarship Students, Second Term 2016
Program Intern FRR Leading Challenge Session
Program Intern FRR Leading Challenge Session
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Kendall at 2016 Scholarship Award Ceremony
Kendall at 2016 Scholarship Award Ceremony

Meet Kendall, an active and intelligent elementary student in the coffee-rich mountains just west of San Ramon de Alajuela.  He really enjoys playing football (soccer) at school, but studies always come first.  You might notice the tenderness and humility in his face and demeanor, and know that he is a student who really needs the help that is provided by the CAA Educational Scholarship Program, one of 24 elementary and high school students being assisted in 2016.

A few weeks ago, I received a call from Kendall’s parents that he was really having difficulty in this school term – Kendall’s prescription glasses were 3 years old, his vision had deteriorated, and he needed new glasses now if he was to keep up in class. The family had no money for new glasses and were barely making ends meet. We quickly contacted an optician in San Ramon who is affiliated with the CAA, Lic. Alejandro Rodríguez Sánchez of Optics Rosán, who agreed to provide the CAA with a 50% discount for Kendall’s examination and new eye-glasses. Within a few days, Kendall had his new glasses and was back in business. 

Because of a very generous optician and quick action by the Education Committee, Kendall’s vision is no longer an obstacle to learning - now, our shared vision is for Kendall to stay focused on making good grades to prepare him for a brighter future!  

As Kendall’s story demonstrates, It really does take a village to raise a child; in the US, Costa Rica, or anywhere in the world. Without generous donors, our CAA Education Committee volunteers in San Ramón, supportive parents and educators, the supportive “village” could not exist.

Your continued support can help us keep the vision alive for a very motivated group of students here in San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica.     

Kendall with new glasses, 2016
Kendall with new glasses, 2016

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Jorge with CAA Members Robert Carr Lorca Warner
Jorge with CAA Members Robert Carr Lorca Warner

Jorge’s journey to take full advantage of the Costa Rican educational system continues as he moves into the 6th Grade in 2016, shown here with generous CAA Members Robert Carr and Lorca Warner.  This is Jorge's last year in elementary before moving into high school next year. He was one of 23 lucky students, 13 elementary and 10 high school, to be awarded CAA educational scholarships last week, just in time to get the uniforms, shoes and school supplies required to start classes on February 8th

For some students like Jorge, the period between early December through February 8, and most weekends were spent with other family members climbing the coffee farms in the local mountains, baskets loaded with picked coffee beans. Their holidays were not spent playing with new toys or video games, because coffee season is one of the only times that the family can earn extra money for the year. This year has been tougher than last, because Jorge’s father has a medical condition that limited him to part-time work, although he, too, is in the coffee fields doing what he can while the beans are red and ripe for picking.

But despite the hard work in the coffee fields, Jorge also brought his family some wonderful news when his report card arrived back in December---he scored in the 90’s on all his courses.  This confirms Jorge’s motivation to keep up with his studies while helping his family.  

After getting their vouchers, the students and families went to the 3 participating merchants to exchange their vouchers for shoes, uniforms, and school supplies.  And, to insure that the program was getting good value in the marketplace, we conducted a market basket analysis of uniform selection, quality, and prices in early January. The analysis identified a merchant with multiple locations in town that was able to offer the same or higher level of quality, better selection and price on required school uniforms. We should be able to provide almost 15% more uniforms for the same dollars.Even better, the pants were locally-made, providing local jobs, and have a 1 year guarantee. As an added bonus, we were able to teach our university student intern, studying to be a social-worker, how to conduct a solid market-basket pricing survey and compile the results. This term, we will provide almost $4500 in school supplies/uniforms, and supporters through Global Giving provided about half of that funding, so thank you one and all. 

It is important to know that education is not mandatory in Costa Rica after completing the 6th grade. Therefore, many academically successful students drop out after elementary school because the expenses associated with high school are higher than for elementary, and the lure of an extra worker in the fields is very strong. This is a very critical time in the educational paths of these kids and the time for extra vigilence.   

At the awards ceremony on the 23rd, several mothers and fathers stood to send blessings to all those that helped support these families. Those words of appreciation, the smiles and thankful hugs from the students and parents, made for a very heartwarming morning. 

The CAA Education Committee members also send our thanks to our fabulous Global Giving supporters. We will need to raise more money for the Second School Term, but with this great start, we feel confident that we will be ready to help these kids again in July. Education is the key to the future for children like Jorge and their families; and with your continued support, we can keep that vision alive. Bless you all.

Community Action Alliance, Education Committee  

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Meet Jorge, an eager and energetic 4th grade elementary student, one of the twenty-five fortunate San Ramon area students enrolled in the CAA Educational Scholarship Program.  For Jorge, and similar students from migrant coffee-working families in Costa Rica, the opportunity for regular schooling is elusive, given that coffee field workers typically move frequently for work, and family money is not there for required school supplies and uniforms. However, for the past 3 years, Jorge, his sister and older brother have been able to regularly attend their rural elementary school, walking 4 kilometers to and from school each day for classes.  

Unfortunately, the window of opportunity for education in Costa Rica is time and age sensitive. Jorge’s older brother has not been as fortunate as Jorge – because of past irregular school attendance and lack of money, he had only achieved a 2nd- 3rd grade education level when he “aged-out” of elementary school at age 12. This young man is now walking 7 kilometers to a neighboring town for training to prepare him for work in agriculture. For this friendly and attentive 12 year old student, the opportunity to regularly attend elementary school arrived a bit too late.

However, thanks to your donations and other fund-raising efforts of CAA volunteers, Jorge has been able to get the school supplies, shoes and school uniforms necessary to regularly attend school, and he and his sister are now at the age-appropriate educational level.  Without your help, Jorge and his sister are at risk of walking the same path the system offered his older brother – a path leading only to manual agricultural labor in the coffee fields. 

CAA local volunteers, with your help, provided $6600 in school supplies, shoes, uniforms and other financial assistance to 25 scholarship students this school-year, and we hope to fund up to five additional students next year.  To do this, we need to raise $2600 before the next school year begins in late January, 2016. 

During this Thanksgiving season, can you please make a pledge to help students like Jorge? For these families in poverty in Costa Rica, the window of opportunity to get an education can close very quickly. 

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Organization Information

The Community Action Alliance

Location: San Ramon, Alajuela - Costa Rica
Website:
Project Leader:
Scott and Linda McAnally
San Ramon, Alajuela Costa Rica
$18,429 raised of $30,000 goal
 
254 donations
$11,571 to go
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