Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Amigos de San Pablo volunteer committee during one of many meetings this past summer, which worked towards evaluating the three-year-old program. From left to right: Mace, Ety, Ian, Julio, and Yony. Photo by Brooke.

Happy holidays! Here’s hoping that you’ve had a healthy and productive 2009. Because of Ian’s thesis work on return migrants and deportees, we had the opportunity to return this past summer to the western Guatemalan mountains. Aside from visiting our friends and host family, we also spent time evaluating Amigos de San Pablo.

Among the program’s many strengths is the commitment of friends and family here in the US who have chosen to financially support students they’ve never met. These donors have helped create an invaluable opportunity for teenagers living in extreme poverty to write their own dreams, and Amigos de San Pablo would not exist without these special people.

In addition to the participation of many donors like you, we are blown away by the work of a dedicated group of San Pablo community volunteers who administrate the scholarships. We were elated to find that their focus has been on engaging families and designing transparent systems.

One of most important opportunities and/or challenges the program faces is sustainability. To move toward a more sustainable Amigos de San Pablo, we are considering the following future projects: 1) beginning a mini-loan program for middle and high school students who have small businesses; 2) seeking a fiscal sponsor here in the U.S. so all donations can be tax-deductible; and 3) formalizing the activities of the recipients to build leadership qualities and promote their investment in future grantees.

The school year is right around the corner. As we embark on the necessary research and collaborative discussions with the San Pablo committee, we hope that you will support these students in their continued education. To donate towards the 2010 school year, click on the PayPal link to the right or email to learn about where you can mail a check or money order.

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