Why a college scholarship program?
Upon graduating high school, Voces y Manos students’ career objectives are consistently clear: most want to gain university degrees so that they can work as doctors, nurses, agriculture technicians, and teachers in their own communities. Upon graduating high school, however, students face significant barriers to realizing these goals. Poverty precludes many of our students from enrolling in college. Furthermore, those that seek employment in the community development sector are often stymied by the requirement that they possess prior work experience. Therefore, many talented young people take jobs as merchants, taxi drivers, or police officers, simply because they perceive such jobs to be their only viable option.
How the program works
The internship/scholarship program consists of three components: 1) ongoing capacity building, 2) work experience, and 3) university scholarships. On weekdays, students work work at internship placements under the guidance of experienced mentors. On weekends, they attend college courses. Stipends paid by Voces y Manos and partner agencies (50% paid by each entity) allow students to cover the costs of schooling.
Here is a video of Claudia, one of our 2014 interns, describing her experience in the program:
In 2014, the internship program’s pilot year, Voces y Manos staff conducted an evaluation to assess the project’s impacts. This evaluation identified three key project impacts:
- Expanded access to higher education and work for indigenous youth
- Improved services to the local community
- Increased capacity of local community to improve their own health conditions
Most importantly, of the four students enrolled in the program in 2014, three ultimately acquired full-time work in the community-development sector, while continuing to work toward graduation from college.