We are well into the school year in Ecuador and are happy to be able to write about one of our new initiatives this year, our ‘Scholarship Plus’ program. Living in Ecuador, we get to see first hand the impact of our programs. At the same time, living in the community surrounded by so many of the Mission School students, we also witness and hear about additional needs. Over the past few years, we noticed that there were many families that needed support in addition to tuition scholarships. These were families struggling to earn incomes after the economic shutdown during the pandemic, single-parent homes trying to make ends meet, and others. We hired a social worker to speak with the families in our scholarship program, visit their homes, and assess needs. As a result of this work, the ‘Scholarship Plus’ program was born.
The ‘Scholarship Plus’ program provides tiered assistance on top of tuition scholarships. For families that need it, the program provides transportation scholarships to cover the $1 bus fare a day to get to and from school, uniform and school supplies scholarships, and even monthly food assistance. By making sure that students can get to school, have the supplies they need, and are appropriately nourished, they are given the best chance at excelling academically.
One such student is Miguel*. Miguel had just been to visit a doctor when the social worker visited his home. Sixteen years old, his mom forced him to go to the medical clinic when he continued to fall asleep between 8 and 9 pm (very early and abnormal for Miguel, and any teenager) and appeared to be losing weight from his already skinny frame. The doctor told Miguel that he was severely malnourished, and his exhaustion was caused by not eating enough calories to get through the day. The social worker was immediately able to recommend Miguel for our a full scholarship plus. Now, in addition to his tuition, his family receives bus fare, his school supplies, and a monthly food allowance. Miguel shares that he is happy to be gaining a little weight, and his mom is happy to have to yell at him to go to bed at night. Miguel can finally focus on what he should be able to, his studies.
*Name changed to protect privacy.