The UW Guatemala Education Project
Project Year 2007
Phase 1: Youth Leader Scholarships
In 2007, 14 youth leaders from the region of San Marcos, Guatemala, received scholarship funds supported by the UW Guatemala Education Project. Students were chosen by our partner organization, Movimiento de Trabajadores Campesinos (Movement of Peasant Workers, MTC). Each of six regional associations received an equal share of funds and selected one or more students from their region. Scholarships could be applied to formal schooling, as well as learning useful crafts like weaving. The primary selection criterion was how much leadership the youth had demonstrated within the MTC. For example, preference was given to youth who held leadership positions in a regional Youth Council or Women's Council. The scholarships were partial rather than full to provide incentive for students’ families to also invest in their children’s future; the goal was to reduce the burden of that investment on impoverished families, but not to supplant it altogether.
Scholarship recipients participated in regional discussions to identify small-scale development projects that could provide sustainable economic benefits to their communities. These discussions were facilitated by a mentor/adviser who provided regular support for the scholarship recipients, advising them in both their academic studies and community development work. One of the primary reasons students leave school is because they lack a support network of people who have completed schooling and can provide them the support they need to face its challenges. This project aimed to ameliorate the issue by encouraging students to develop and operate within broader community networks than may have otherwise been accessible to them. Small-scale development projects identified through this process were supported in the form of micro-financing for supplies. For example, modest projects were supported through a loan to purchase sewing machines or thread.