Two years after starting operations at the Ernesto Ramos Antonini public housing complex in San Juan, Vimenti by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico recorded an improvement in the well-being of families, academic achievement of its students, and levels of employability of its participants.
This was revealed by the center when presenting its report of results and learning for the year 2019-2020 during a virtual conference.
According to the report from the Vimenti center, the levels of intervention with which they measure the changes and progress of families reflected progress. The data shows that the percentage of families considered stable increased from 20 percent in August 2019, to 31 percent in June 2020.
"At the Vimenti center, families are classified by levels of intervention, using 14 indicators that impact social, economic, health, schooling factors, among others. This way, the tools are provided to you individually. Each family is assigned a case manager with whom they work on their family plans and they remain in a mentoring and accompaniment process throughout the year," said Bárbara Rivera Batista, executive director of Vimenti.
Moreover, the profile of families changed positively in aspects of education, increasing from 11 percent to 14 percent in families with at least one member with a bachelor's degree; in the case of families with at least one member with an associate degree it rose from 13 percent to 22 percent. Meanwhile, the indicator of families with at least one unemployed member fell by 14 percent. However, 93 percent of families continue to live under levels of poverty.
"This data debunks that the poor do not want to work or do not want to change the conditions in which they live. On the contrary, our families make great efforts and many times the obstacles and vulnerability in which they live do not facilitate them to achieve immediate changes to their conditions. economic. In fact, two of our participants managed to create their businesses despite the challenges they have faced in the middle of a pandemic thanks to the support of our entrepreneurship area," Rivera Batista said.
Regarding the results for Vimenti School, the first public alliance school in the country, it reported that the proficiency level of its students reached 62.5 percent of a goal of 70 percent.
During the 2019-2020 school year, Vimenti School promoted 92 students, from kindergarten through third grade, and impacted 123 members of their families last year. At the beginning of the school year, Vimenti School identified various learning barriers such as vision, hearing, and asthma problems in its students and offered them the relevant services so that they could achieve better academic achievement.
Currently Vimenti School has an enrollment of 126 kindergarten through third grade students and 109 families. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, education is being offered remotely. Given the reality identified by the school that 65 percent of families did not have computers and 47 percent did not have internet access, Vimenti achieved through a federal proposal, the acquisition of iPads with connectivity for each student. For this semester, the internet connection was donated by the telecommunications company T-Mobile.
"Every day, our responsibility to the families, participants and the community of Vimenti is greater. This year we had the challenge of reinventing ourselves to be able to continue our services and programming in all the areas that make up the center despite the health crisis caused by the pandemic," Rivera Batista said. "Thanks to the commitment of the families, our allies, and work team, we were able to successfully finish the school semester in the educational area, the work plans in the social area and maintain the offer of employability and entrepreneurship workshops in the economic area."
In the area of Economic Development, the Employability and Careers Program for youth and adults has graduated 120 participants, of which 71 percent are currently employed and 84 percent have retained their jobs for three months or more. Of these, 56 percent are parents of participants in Vimenti.
"In the short term, we are already gathering valuable information that shows us that it is possible to change the conditions in which our children and families live below the poverty level. The learnings of the model during the past two years indicate that if we work with the family as the axis to break the generational cycle of poverty, if we address the barriers and obstacles that our vulnerable children and families have, mobility is definitely achieved," Rivera Batista affirmed.
As part of the services offered to families and the community, 45,433 portions of food between breakfast, lunch, and dinner were offered to all students, including dinner to other participants who attend extended hours. The project also served 262 active extended-hours participants between the ages of 5-21, in addition to 510 adults who participated in economic development programs and various community impact programs.
"These results, challenges, and learning reaffirm the sense of urgency that we have as citizens to be part of the solution, that the family axis is the priority to eradicate child poverty in Puerto Rico," said Eduardo Carrera Morales, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico. "Every day our responsibility is greater, and the development of this evidence-based center will allow us to measure the impact on children and the economic mobility of their families in the coming years," he added.