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.
The cost of a sponsorship is not set in stone and varies depending on the level of the student. We start our sponsorships at the Secundaria level (equivalent to Jr. High). At this level, our sponsors usually choose to pay for uniforms, a backpack and school supplies, school shoes, etc. A good guideline would be $300 usd per school year. At the High School level (Preparatoria) a good guideline is $500 per year and approx. $1,000 will pay tuition at a local university. We have had groups sponsor a child, 2 couples go together, and even grandparents sponsoring a child in lieu of Christmas presents for their grandkids (involving the grandkids in the experience by shopping together for backpack & supplies), and sharing photographs of the sponsored student with their grandparents during after school meetings in Guaymas.
We have gift certificates available at any level of sponsorship or for a one-time donation to the General Fund-- a great present for the kids back home who don't really need another electronic device. One of the things we use the general fund for are for laptops for our students at the High School and University level. Books are a thing of the past and almost everything these students do is via computer and internet.
If you have any interest in becoming a sponsor, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with Potential Sponsor in the subject line and we will put you on our list to be matched with a student at our next Selection Committee meeting. If you have a preference as to age of student, boy or girl, let us know and we will try to make a good fit. If you just wish to make a donation to our general fund, it is tax deductible in the U.S. and Mexico. Mail your check to Castaway Kids, Inc., c/o Diane Wine, 2651 South Desert Ridge Drive, Green Valley, AZ 85622. Put Adelante Estudiante or Scholarship Committee in the Memo Line. Help us stop the cycle of poverty, one student at a time. Or, you can use the Paypal function on our website, www.castawaykidsmx.org.
Help us make a difference in these students' lives. When one student in a family achieves higher education and a career, it bring the whole family to a higher standard-- and then their siblings aspire to find a career through University or vocational education.