Why help kids in Mexico when there are kids in need here in the United States? I hear this question frequently and each time it is asked I acknowledge that it is a very valid question and one that I understand and appreciate.
Quite honestly, I have a few different responses and I thought I would share them with you here:
1) In Mexico the constitution only guarantees a free public-school education through sixth grade – and even then, there are few resources and support to assure that kids are able to graduate even from elementary school. Of those young people who are fortunate enough to be able to graduate from middle school, a very high percentage of them are not able to attend high school due to lack of funds.
I realize that our public-school system in The U.S. is far from perfect and there are serious inequities with many kids ‘falling through the cracks’ and not getting a good education. However, for the most part (at least certainly much more so than in Mexico), if a young person in our country really wants to, they are able to access a free public school education through 12th grade. Also, our students are provided with transportation, free breakfast and lunch if necessary, counselors, social workers, tutoring and many other resources and support that are simply not available to students in Rocky Point.
2) I believe that at the highest levels of affluence and the deepest levels of poverty, as parents we share the same desire for our children to have a better future – no matter where we live. When I learned that every day in Rocky Point parents are having to choose between sending their kids to school and meeting their basic needs due to lack of resources it broke my heart. As a parent of three sons, I cannot imagine having had to make this choice and I am determined to prevent more and more parents in Rocky Point from having to do so.
3) Research shows that educated children become empowered adults who can lift a community out of poverty. While this community being lifted out of poverty benefits the people of Rocky Point, it also benefits the many people from the U.S who, like me, vacation here frequently, own vacation properties and/or have other investments here. However, even if you have never set foot in Mexico and never plan to, educated children become empowered adults who have no need to cross the border illegally because they are desperate to support their families. I cannot guarantee that none of our students will try to do so but I certainly like their odds much better than those young people who do not get the chance to go to school.
I will finish by sharing that there are currently 588 students in our program, and we are fully committed to assuring they all have access to quality educational opportunities. While I think that is a lot of students to be supporting in only our fourth school year, you could argue that this number isn’t really going to have any significant impact compared to the number of young people who still are not attending school. However, the research shows that when you break the cycle of poverty for one young person you also break it for their children and generations to come. That is what really excites and motivates me and why I remain committed to this mission.
If you would like to make a donation to support our program or sponsor a student you can do so at www.stepsoflove.org