Scholarships for Dominican and Haitian Youth

by Yspaniola Incorporated
Books + Smiles
Books + Smiles

It has been a busy and exciting summer for Yspaniola: in July, we opened a Literacy Center in Batey Libertad!

At the beginning of the year, Yspaniola interns based in Esperanza began informally tutoring children in Batey Libertad.

Given the amount of interest in these sessions and the dedication of local staff to the project, in June Yspaniola began a series of community meetings and focus groups to determine if and how to move forward with creating a space in Batey Libertad devoted to learning. The community rallied behind the idea of a Literacy Center, a safe space for children to read and participate in extracurricular tutoring sessions led by Yspaniola staff and interns. 

June and July were devoted to furbishing the center, which became truly an international effort: children in Batey Libertad painted the center; community members built a table and a bookshelf; a local school donated desks; Dominican volunteers offered books; Yumiko, an intern, reached out to friends and family who bought school supplies, books, and provided funding; and a service-learning trip from Sudbury, MA brought supplies as well.

As August progresses, we are preparing a registration process to begin a semester of learning that corresponds to the local school calendar and includes parents and the schoolteachers in their children's education. By working with parents and closely monitoring student engagement and improvement, the Literacy Center will be a resource for Batey Libertad and give its children more possibilities and hope.



Yspaniola is thrilled to announce two new scholars from Batey Libertad to the University Scholarship Program. This April, after a selection process of applications, essays, and interviews, an impartial committee selected Ramón Sánchez and Julio Louis to receive Yspaniola scholarships to further their education. The new scholars will study alongside current scholars Mayra and Fede at UTESA (Technological University of Santiago) beginning late May.

Ramón is an outstanding student who participates as a trainer with Deportes Para La Vida, a program that educates youth about HIV/AIDS. He will study medicine with the eventual goal of becoming a doctor to provide healthcare to communities with few resources.

Julio is an excellent student who currently studies at UTESA. He has a gift for languages and is studying tourism, with an interest in ecotourism. He is also interested in Haitian-Dominican relations and history.

A special welcome to the program’s new Scholarship Coordinator, Mirta Aguirre. Mirta, originally from Argentina, is a passionate educator and is looking forward to working with Mayra, Fede, the new scholars and the rest of the Yspaniola Local Program team. Yspaniola and the new scholars will work closely in the next few weeks in preparation for enrollment. We are very excited to welcome Ramón and Julio to the program and wish them luck in their studies!

The UVA group with Batey Libertad students
The UVA group with Batey Libertad students

Last week on January 14, Yspaniola scholars Mayra and Fede began their first day of classes at the Technological University of Santiago (UTESA), after spending a holiday break with their families. Each scholar is taking seven courses this semester, with classes such as cultural civics, French, English, mathematics, and the sciences. Yspaniola is proud to announce the expansion of the scholarship program: this winter, students from Batey Libertad are applying through an extensive selection process to have the opportunity to study alongside the current scholars in Santiago.  An impartial committee will select two new scholars in April. Good luck to all those who apply!

A group of 11 students from the University of Virginia traveled to the Dominican Republic for a ten-day service-learning trip with Yspaniola. The students stayed with families in Batey Libertad, worked with youth from the local primary school, and engaged with the community while learning about sustainable development.  Some students plan to return to Batey Libertad and apply as interns or volunteers with Yspaniola. 

This weekend Dominican volunteers will be working with students from Batey Libertad Escuela Básica in our newly developing Hermanitos tutoring and mentoring program, which connects university students from Santiago and other parts of the country with primary schools students from the community. 

The women of the Microenterprise Project have finished the first cycle of paper maché house construction and have begun to sell their work! Next week, the group will meet to discuss the next steps, planning for a new cycle of production, and involving more young women in the project.

Reading to younger students in the community
Reading to younger students in the community
Yspaniola Scholar Mayra and Sarah, volunteer
Yspaniola Scholar Mayra and Sarah, volunteer
Fede and Mayra
Fede and Mayra

Yspaniola Scholars Mayra and Fede successfully finished their second semester and look forward to beginning a new term at the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA).  In August, the scholars participated in an extracurricular activity related to leadership with organization Un Techo Para Mi País-Repbública Dominicana, constructing houses for people in need in Haina.  The Yspaniola Local Team also participated in a two-day construction project with Techo in Kilombo, a community near Santo Domingo, in October.  Also recently, Yspaniola and community members of Batey Libertad traveled to visit the border market of Dajabón and Ouanaminthe in Haiti to better understand Dominican and Haitian relations.

The women of the Microenterprise Artisan Project have been enjoying working together as they finish the paper maché houses. Haitian artist Paul Eligene from the capital arrives next week and will live in Batey Libertad for a month as he teaches the women how to paint designs on the houses. After the houses are completed and ready for sale, the women will learn how to make other crafts, in particular paper maché bowls, to which they can also apply their painting skills.  Yspaniola completed the first cycle of the Leadership Institute and will begin the second phase in late November.

Yspaniola is working to expand the university scholarship program to benefit students in nearby batey communities and has begun to conduct research education in nearby Boca de Mao.  You can contribute to providing additional scholarships for deserving students like Mayra and Fede through a donation, which will go towards university tuition and other academic expenses and supplies, while empowering the scholars as they acquire the skills and tools to become leaders and achieve their goals.  Thank you for your support!

Members of the Microenterprise Project and houses!
Members of the Microenterprise Project and houses!

June and July were exciting months for Yspaniola, as we collaborated with several organizations to raise awareness about social justice in the Dominican Republic and help our scholars learn about development and leadership.

Yspaniola partnered with the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) to host our first conference, Puntos de Encuentro: República Dominicana y Haití, about the intersections and shared history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. We hosted students of Dominican and Haitian descent from City College in New York through the FUNGLODE (Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo) internship program, participated in a panel as part of the 2011 Yale University-NYU Summer Institute for Educators, and collaborated with RECREAR to facilitate workshops for youth from Batey Libertad and nearby communities to identify community needs and design projects to address those needs.

Yspaniola is also proud to announce the launch of a new leadership program for young women in Batey Libertad. Through a microenterprise initiative, Yspaniola will empower young Dominican and Haitian women, who face educational and economic barriers, to work side by side and assume an active to improve their community.

Through these projects, our scholars Fede and Mayra are learning strategies for empowerment and community leadership as they continue their studies at the University. If you haven't donated to Yspaniola in a while, consider supporting our Recurring Donation Campaign through GlobalGiving. If just ten people sign up for a recurring monthly donation of $10, then we can cover the annual tuition costs for one of our university scholars!


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Organization Information

Yspaniola Incorporated

Location: North Haven, CT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jonathan DiMaio
North Haven, CT United States

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