Adelante Estudiante is Castaway Kids' student sponsorship program. It started with one 12 year old boy who dropped out of an English class taught by volunteers from San Carlos at the children’s home, Hogar Paz y Bien in Guaymas. Then an organization was put together to pursue a program to match sponsors with Mexican students and by the time the school year 2009 began in Guaymas, 40 students had been matched with sponsors and another 5 had their college tuitions paid by our general fund and as of school year, 2016/2017, we maintain more than 100 students with over 60 in universities all over Mexico! We have found that with the volunteer base we have now, we can handle the payments and communications needed for 100-120 students. Ours is not a scholarship program, where you give cash to kids for school, but a sponsorship program. It is much more labor intensive, but the goal is to make inter-cultural connections and for the sponsors to learn more about the local school system.
The original idea was to remove the economic obstacles many of these students face, because sometimes no matter how good their grades are or how much they want to improve their situation in life through higher education, their family’s economic circumstances are such that the extra expenses of tuition and uniforms and school supplies are just too much to keep them in school. Our organization has found that working with the social workers at the different schools has been an excellent resource for choosing students who not only have the economic need, but who are the most motivated students. We do ask the students to keep .80 grade point average or better. The school personnel have also demonstrated their relief to see a possibility for helping some of their students who were falling through the cracks.
The group has put together a large committee of bilingual folks who are willing to be matched with a student and his or her sponsor, to aid in communication. With the bilingual mentor’s assistance, we have had a number of sponsors who have taken their students shopping for shoes, uniforms and then gone to meet their parents, gone to meet the social workers at their schools, taken them to lunch—in short, they have begun forming a relationship. A couple of our sponsors even took their students swimming with the dolphins. We have already seen a few of our students who have had a big improvement in their grades, just because they know there is an opportunity to continue their education. They now have hope for a better tomorrow.
It has been truly heart-warming to see how many folks have embraced this idea-- a big thank you to all the sponsors who have made this possible. Of course, our hope is that a lasting relationship will be formed between the sponsor(s) and the students and that they will continue their help as the student progresses to higher levels. We know that there will be circumstances where this does not work out, and this is one of the reasons we have a general fund, to be sure that at least tuitions can be covered for students that have kept their grades up, but may have lost their sponsors along the way. Some sponsors want to have more of a personal relationship with their students and some just wish to supply the money. We are willing to work with either. However, it has been inspiring to see how many sponsors continued with their students as they advanced to University level.