In 2014-2015, BECAS - from the scholars and their parents, to BECAS staff, to the Board, and the many BECAS supporters - experienced the fruits of our five years of shared labor by achieving some significant milestones in the growth of the organization.
This year, one scholar walked across the stage in a cap and gown to receive her diploma, becoming the very first high school graduate of the BECAS program as well as in her family. Edith Rivas brought vitality and dedication to her BECAS participation, growing personally and educationally, and serving as a role model to other scholars, all while persevering through challenges at home and at school. From the start, she set a goal to attend college and succeeded in her studies year after year, culminating with her completion of the college entrance exam and high school thesis this year. Her graduation and advancement to continuing education has opened up a new opportunity for BECAS to further the work of breaking the cycle of poverty by creating a BECAS college program.
Our other BECAS scholars also excelled in their studies and personal development. Alex, always gregarious and incredibly bright, completed his junior year with excellent grades and is preparing for his college entrance exam and senior year of high school, soon to become BECAS’ second graduate.
Another scholar, Wendy, made significant progress this year when she had the opportunity to switch schools and join fellow BECAS scholar Virginia in the same classroom. With Program Director Lili de la Bastida’s support and her friendship with Virginia, she has greatly opened up to participating in class and is doing well in her studies. Scholars Ronal and Leo took on more responsibility by taking the lead in caring for the community garden at Para Dar Esperanza and BECAS.
The success of BECAS even reached beyond the current 13 scholars. Former BECAS scholar William, who moved from Quito a couple years ago and withdrew from the BECAS program, graduated from high school in July and is continuing on to college. During Board President Ella Harris’ recent trip to Quito, William commented that participating in the program helped him to set a goal to graduate and move on to higher education.
Along with these milestones, BECAS continued to help scholars as they face the hardships of home life. Michelle experienced significant difficulties at home that impacted her studies and participation in BECAS. Lili and Youth Coordinator Soledad Bastidas worked hard with her to process these challenges and guide her through her first year in high school. BECAS continues to provide additional emotional and educational support to Michelle as she faces problems at home while progressing through these very critical years in her education.
In addition to BECAS scholars’ achievements, the program experienced some milestones as well. Lili received a promotion to become Program Director and took on increasing responsibilities in program development, supervision, and financial management. As BECAS strives towards increased sustainability, Lili is leading the way in further directing growth and progress at the ground level and will work closely with Soledad this year to build the university program.
BECAS celebrated health and wellness improvements among scholars during the annual health checkups. BECAS started including medical and dental benefits in 2009, the scholars had cavities and advanced tooth decay that required extractions and fillings. During this year’s check-ups, only four of the 13 scholars had cavities (and very small ones at that!). Removing barriers to children’s academic success, such as tooth decay and other preventable health conditions, is critical to BECAS’ mission, and this year’s good bill of health among all scholars shows that these efforts are paying off.
These milestones mark the beginning of a new phase for BECAS as the program demonstrates results and staff members on the ground further direct the organization to help break the cycle of poverty in Barrio Santa Maria. We look forward to bringing on new scholars in the coming year, expanding our programming to include college, and building more capacity in Ecuador to manage decision-making and program development.
Last fiscal year, BECAS received $13,576 in donations. We spent $13,119 in running the program. The cash balance at the end of the fiscal year was $25,851. We take our commitment to each scholar and his or her family seriously. Towards that end we maintain sufficient cash reserves to ensure that we can continue to provide for the scholars’ educational expenses for up to two years in the event of an unforeseen interruption in our revenue stream.
To support each scholar for one year, with holistic, in-depth interventions that BECAS provides, costs$900. This includes “scholarship” which is the cost of schooling, “health care” including physicals, dental care, glasses, and “Beyond the Barrio” which consists of family support, tutoring, community service, and cultural outings.