Posted by Wayne Palmer on Sep 21, 2016
Mexico, as a country, has a poverty rate of approximately 40% or 50 million people. As a result, families struggle to provide food for their children so they cannot afford to have their children go to school beyond the basic primary (primaria) school. Without financial assistance, children often are required to go to work once they have completed grade six to contribute to the family. This fosters a cycle of poverty because children, through necessity, have to work instead of pursuing a higher education to provide them with an opportunity to improve their standard of living.
What is Programa de Becas?
Programa de Becas is a program whose purpose is to provide the children of very poor families in the Puerto Vallarta area with the chance of a good education thus enabling them to have a better standard of living than has been available to most of their families.
Programa de Becas began in 1996 when members of the Club Rotario Puerto Vallarta Sur noticed that many bright young students were dropping out of school at age twelve after completing grade six to seek work to contribute to the household. In Mexico it is mandatory that children attend school up to age twelve and many of the poor families could not afford to have their children remain in school past that age due to the cost and the lack of income.
The program started in 1996 with ten members of Club Rotario Puerto Vallarta Sur sponsoring ten poor students going into Secundaria (grade seven) who would otherwise have had to drop out of school.
In1997 the Club began approaching visiting Rotarians to ask for assistance supporting students of Programa de Becas. This initiative resulted in eighteen members of one Club in southern California offering to sponsor students and the program grew from there.
The Rotary Club of Saskatoon now sponsors and facilitates higher education to over 100 students.
Students are now sponsored through to the end of University.
What does the Program Provide?
The money provided by sponsors is intended to provide the student with anything that will ensure that the student can continue their education. This includes the purchase of school uniforms, appropriate footwear, text books, note books, miscellaneous school supplies and the payment of school related fees. The requested amounts do not cover all the student’s expenses but, in most cases, it is enough to allow the family to keep the child in school. Some sponsors give their student extra money every year to assist with school related expenses.
How does the Program work?
When a sponsor joins the program a specific student is assigned to that sponsor and the sponsor and student are “paired” for as long as they both remain in the program. When possible the sponsor will receive a “student profile” with a picture and brief account of the student’s current situation and how he/she is doing in school along with a personalized thank you letter written by the student.
How much does a sponsorship cost?
The annual cost of a sponsorship is:
Secondaria (Middle School)
$275 USD
Preparatoria (High School)
$330 USD
University (Public)
$400 USD
Univa (Private)
$475 USD
Contributions can be made monthly using a credit card (MasterCard or Visa).
Ideally, to ensure that a child is able to stay in school through to the completion of University, a commitment from a sponsor to provide the annual financial contribution is the most beneficial. However, sponsors do have the option of choosing to be a sponsor for only part of the child’s education.
What are the benefits to the students?
The benefit to the students is that they are able to obtain a university education that will allow them to earn a higher income, contribute more to the economy, and thereby break the cycle of poverty that will occur without this education.
What are the benefits to a Sponsor?
A sponsor benefits from participation in this program in the following ways:
  • Knowing that for a relatively modest annual cost, a student who would otherwise be forced to work at a young age, will obtain a solid education and improve his or her standard of living;
  • When possible personalized communication with the student through written correspondence or social media;
  • When possible potential face-to-face meeting with the student if the sponsor visits the Puerto Vallarta through the Rotary Club in Puerto Vallarta. A number of close relationships have been formed between sponsors and students in situations where sponsors visit Puerto Vallarta on a regular basis;
  • For Canadian sponsors, the opportunity to obtain a charitable tax receipt for your donation of a sponsorship to the Saskatoon Rotary Club Charitable Trust Fund Inc.
How Successful is this Program
Since 1996, the program has grown from the initial 10 students to over 400 students.
The program has had numerous students obtain a higher education with some students graduating from university. Some of these university graduates would never have made it past grade six without the financial assistance and, in some cases, encouragement supplied by their sponsors. With the continuous financial support of existing sponsors and new sponsors the program will not only continue to thrive but will expand.