A Year of Growth and Fine Tuning - Annual Report 2011-12
BECAS provides a holistic approach to breaking the cycle of poverty for individuals and communities by working closely with local partners in education, health and social services. Our current work is in the Santa Maria Barrio in the hills above Quito, Ecuador, where BECAS has the resources in place to create change: personal relationships in the community provide mutual accountability and trust, personal relationships with teachers and schools give us access to what is happening in students’ lives, and a social structure exists that, while deeply mired in poverty, is stable and secure. We are committed to accountability to donors and to students by measuring the impact the program has over time.
Highlights of 2011-2012
• The BECAS program grew by 25% over the past year. BECAS awarded four additional scholarships for the 2011-12 school year increasing the total number of scholars to twelve.
• BECAS initiated a long term accountability study to analyze and quantify the impact of our program on the students and neighborhood. The study was designed by a UC Berkeley Masters in Public Health student, and conducted by two Ecuadorian university students and two American university students.
• BECAS continued to achieve its goal of creating long-term financial stability while continuing to expand the services it provides the scholars and increasing the scholarships that it provides.
BECAS Sets A High Standard For Itself!
During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, BECAS Foundation International initiated an accountability study that we will repeat every two years. The survey was designed by Joanna Ortega, MA, Public Health who is a former Peace Corps volunteer. The initial study completed this year established a baseline from which we can measure the progress and impact of BECAS initiatives. Future studies will allow us to verify the effectiveness of our programs, as well as to re-set our direction as needed.
In December 2011, two Ecuadorians and two Americans, unrelated to BECAS, interviewed all the scholars and conducted three parent focus groups. Among our key learnings were:
1. The scholars are enthusiastic about the opportunities they receive through the program. Of special note was the emphasis they placed on both enjoying and understanding the purpose of their field trips and community service activities. The older students spoke with pride about helping the younger students.
2. Clear advances have been made in the scholars’ sense of the future - they now have solid goals. What they still lack are details of how to achieve their goals, i.e. specific steps they will need to take to become the professionals they aspire to be.
3. Parents also are enthusiastic about the opportunities they receive through the program, especially the financial support to send their children to public school, and the parenting workshops - which they report are changing the way they raise their children. Specific changes are to nonviolent methods of discipline. They report that “BECAS parenting workshops have helped them develop healthier and stronger relationships with their children and to feel more engaged in their children’s lives.”
Our goal for the 2012 - 2013 year is to hire a social worker to work specifically with the youth from 7th-12th grade. The focus of this youth program will be on helping the students to set goals for beyond high school. This program will introduce the youth to various professionals, particularly those who have overcome difficult backgrounds, so that they can hear their stories and ask questions about the paths that led them to where they are today. In addition this program will provide the youth with assistance in developing realistic plans to achieve their goals and support their endeavors towards this end.
We will also begin assessing the viability to extend our financial assistance to post-secondary programs for graduating BECAS scholars that have the interest and proven commitment and aptitude to pursue further education. Towards this end BECAS has chosen to build up its reserves so that it will be able to fund these expansions while maintaining its commitment to its current scholars. Our focus for the upcoming year is to ensure that we have the personnel and infrastructure in place to support these expanded services. Once this program is firmly established, we will renew our efforts to welcome new scholars to our program.
Last fiscal year, BECAS received $10,168 in donations and spent $8,386. Over 85% of our expenditures were for the direct support of the scholars. The balance covered the implementation of the accountability study, travel and other administrative costs. The cash balance at the end of the fiscal year was $20,956. 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. In 2011-12 our average cost per scholar was $591.