• In Guatemala, age 12 frequently coincides with the start of secondary school and puberty. It also represents a crucial crossroads for a young woman in Guatemala. Without an intervention, the vast majority go down the current path: withdrawal from the social sphere, abandoning studies, and restricted access to any services and opportunities that may otherwise prevent them from breaking out of the intergenerational cycles of poverty. As a socially isolated and uneducated young woman, her probable future entails an arranged marriage at a young age, frequent childbirth and above all, extremely limited decision-making power in her own life and the lives of her children. Only 5% of Mayan girls complete primary school.
• Through extremely personalized support via the comprehensive 6-year program, SF1by1 empowers young women to take a highly empowering path. In 2011, 180 students are in the SF1by1 program. The program consists of a three-fold, integrated focus:
1. Partial Academic Scholarships that cover roughly 75% of school-related costs (fees, transportation, materials). Families cover the remaining 25% of the school costs. This allows and incentivizes the family to stay involved and supportive of the young woman’s efforts.
2. “PODER” (POWER) Program to empower young women and ensure that each has the capacity to overcome the powerful social and familial pressures that constantly push against her schooling. This is accomplished through a unique mentorship/peer support program that equips her with the powerful information she needs to be a leader in her community.
PODER entails weekly sessions with a 15-member peer group of SF1by1 scholarship recipients.
Sessions are facilitated by a mentor who plays a central role. Mentors are university-level role models who are from the same geographic region, language group and socioeconomic circumstances. The mentor’s role is to identify and strengthen the unique talents of each young woman. In addition to providing academic support, Mentors guide their groups through the SF1by1 curriculum that includes the following subject areas:
• Women’s rights
• Proactive communication
• Financial literacy
• Reproductive education and health
• Environmental stewardship
• Social responsibility/volunteerism
Mentors conduct regular monitoring visits to schools to discuss the progress of SF1by1 students. Additionally, Mentors visit the families of each young woman on a continual basis to promote and monitor familial support for her ongoing education.
3. “PUENTE” (BRIDGE) Pilot Program ensures that upon graduation from High School, each young woman is prepared to confront the challenges ahead and continue her personal and professional development.
Full sponsorship: $1,000
$250 Academic scholarship. This represents roughly 75% of the actual school-related costs, and families contribute the remaining balance.
$300 Empowerment scholarship (see below)
$300 Participation in weekly positive-peer support meetings (transport, snack, rent, materials, internet access)
$150 Methodology Development, Supervision and Monitoring and Evaluation
Empowerment Scholarship: $300
An Empowerment Scholarship provides each young woman in the program with the consistent support of a female, community-based mentor who ensures that the student effectively overcomes familial, social and structural obstacles that would otherwise derail her from her path to education and empowerment. The role of the mentor includes:
· Facilitating the empowerment curriculum during the 3 hour peer-support group. This often entails the Mentor first receiving training from other NGOs in Guatemala on specific topics (such as reproductive health or financial literacy).
· Being available for “drop-in” academic support during the week, acting as a tutor for extra academic support.
· Advocating for the girl in her school, as most girls in Starfish come from families where the parents are illiterate and speak no Spanish.
· Breaking down invisible barriers. Mentors ensure that each girl accesses and utilizes the community resources that will help make her a difference maker in her community.
· Advocating for the girl in her home. By conducting regular visits to each girl’s school and family, mentors are able to intervene on behalf of their students when families lose motivation to continue to allow their daughter to study, or when external factors jeopardize her academic future (natural disasters, family deaths, etc).
· Encouraging sound financial management. Mentors also serve as co-signers on individual bank accounts where each girl administers her scholarship funds. This provides mentors with a tangible training format that ensures that each girl acquires personal finance skills.
Starfish One by One maintains a blog for each group of girls in its program, where they post updates regularly. We’ll notify you when new posts are up, and you can leave comments and write notes to your sponsored girl.
Please note it may take up to a month for a sponsorship to process.
Video by STF Photographer Kate Lord
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