Volunteer Efforts Result in Progress for Rural Education Institute
By Camie Fenton
In a report to the community on May 10 at the Café del Sol in San Miguel de Allende, Sara Tylosky, president of the Rural Education Institute, known as “Rural Ed,” said that it’s been a dynamic winter and spring season with more progress anticipated to finish out 2016. Tylosky noted that Rural Ed continues to achieve its main goal of establishing and staffing community centers with post-graduate international mentors from all over the world who provide learning programs that bring life-long opportunities to Mexican rural youth, where only 12 percent of youth finish just nine years of school.
“Our programming promotes lifelong learning for kids between 8 and 18 years old so that they can continue with their education, improve their economic situation, and eventually give back to their communities,” Tylosky said. “As part of our program, the Rural
Education Institute provides scholarships to students selected to go on to preparatory or high school, and is now mentoring those students as well.”
The Rural Education Institute has studies that reveal a wide gap in the Mexican educational opportunities between rural youth, whom they serve, and urban students, which results in unequal life-long prospects for poor rural youth. The organization’s interns, volunteers, and board members work to redress these issues by providing programs at the community centers in reading, computer skills, and English, using relevant topics such as intercultural learning, environmental sustainability, and health and nutrition.
A focal point for fundraising and volunteer efforts in 2016 has been the construction of a new community center in the Don Diego community to be inaugurated in July. It is located near the eastern shore of La Presa just outside San Miguel. To fully open the center this fall, Rural Ed has been coordinating with several NGOs, including the Biblioteca, ComputadorAs Pro-Jóvenes, and Libros para Todos. More than a thousand children live in this community, with 50 percent within the Rural Ed age group, and Rural Ed expects to have at least 15 percent, or 75 of them, enrolled in after-school programming this fall.
Volunteers for the Rural Education Institute created fundraising events during San Miguel’s “high season” this winter, including the second annual Baubles, Bangles & Beads, a donated-jewelry sale in early February. March was busy with a golf tournament at the Malanquin Country Club as well as a high-style fashion show featuring best-selling local designers’ creations. On the last day of March, a Mezcal, Music & Mammoth Bones lunch was held at El Coyote Flaco Restaurante in Atotonilco to benefit the program in the La Palma community.
In addition to building and staffing community centers bringing today’s educational opportunities to rural youth, the organization’s core program provides an internship experience to post-graduate young adults who specialize in global development, education, and Mexican culture—akin to an educational peace corps. “While our interns are providing the kids in the program the confidence to explore their futures by encouraging their dreams and helping them get the skills needed to pursue those dreams, these interns are in fact doing the same thing for themselves as they explore the wider possibilities of their adult worlds and take on incredible responsibilities,” said Sara. Six interns will join REI in September. Host homes are currently being sought for these interns.
Tylosky noted, “We have a board of nine astute members, and we are now raising funds to sustain our centers, which cost US$9,866 to operate each year, which comes out to 36 cents a day per kid per community.”
The Rural Education Institute of Mexico, Inc. is a registered 501(c) (3) in the US to provide tax deductions for all US donations; a registered A.C. (Asociación Civil) in Mexico and is now partnering with Amistad Canada for all Canadian donations for tax deductibility. All youth can apply directly to the Rural Education scholarship committee for these scholarship opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org or at ruraledmexico.org. All combined, this season’s fundraising efforts brought needed resources, but the Rural Education Institute also seeks grants, direct donations, and partnerships to keep the organization thriving. Please contact them to become involved.