To be a premier means for at-risk Ecuadorian youth to achieve a post-secondary education.
A community where underprivileged Latin American youth are empowered to create a better future for themselves through continuing education.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Some Ecuadorian families living in poverty find it difficult to provide the necessary school supplies for their children that are enrolled in school, while also meeting the financial obligations of their households. The result is that many poor Ecuadorian children are not completing their primary and secondary education.
Ecuador is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with a poverty rate of 23 percent.
It is estimated there are 1.5 million people living in poverty in Ecuador’s urban areas.
Most of the poverty is due to low education levels, trouble with employment, and very low rates of labor.
Poverty impacts youth education
There are 57 million primary-school-age children in Ecuador who are not enrolled in school. (Ecuador Education Statistics)
These children are at risk of being exploited, getting married early, and earning less income.
Financial barriers for children served by Starfish
Starfish finds that many of its students' families in Guayaquil, Ecuador have a size of five to seven people with an average family monthly income of $336.
Public schools in Ecuador are free, but families often struggle to provide the necessary school materials, such as books, uniforms, and other supplies, while living on minimum wage.
The public school system provides books in basic subjects like math and language arts, but students have to purchase books for other classes.
Public schools also require students to have three uniforms that families must buy.
Impoverished families, sometimes, decide that the easiest solution is for children not to go to school.
DESCRIBING THE SOLUTION
Starfish sees education as a solution and a catalyst for the future success of students and their communities. Currently, Starfish works with 140 students from more than 104 families; 79 of these students received scholarships.
Starfish provides education and supportive services to impoverished Ecuadorian communities to help at-risk students achieve academically.
Starfish coordinates three education programs for children, living at or below the poverty line, in Guayaquil’s neighborhoods of Guasmo and Flor de Bastión.
Starfish’s programs (scholarships, tutoring, and leadership development) serve students ages 11-18 until they complete secondary school education.
Scholarships provide students with the books, uniforms, and materials required by schools. Students earn scholarships based on participation in the tutoring program, motivation to study, and economic need.
The tutoring program provides scholarship students with two-hour sessions focused on critical thinking. Other neighborhood students can participate to obtain academic help and the chance to earn a scholarship the following year.
Leadership development provides students community service opportunities and leadership development workshops. Students volunteer at shelters, participate in community clean-ups and in/leading teamwork and leadership activities, and help other students.
Starfish also addresses other factors limiting student achievement: hunger, behavioral problems/issues at home, and access to technology. Starfish provides nutritious snacks at tutoring sessions; delivers counseling/parent involvement programs with its staff psychologist; and offers Internet, computers, and printing services to help students submit/complete homework online.
SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM GOALS
Short-term goals are to provide education and support services that help at-risk youth in Ecuador’s Guayaquil’s neighborhoods of Guasmo and Flor de Bastión improve school attendance, improve grades, increase parent involvement, and return to the program the following years until students graduate from secondary school.
Long-term goals are to ensure that Ecuadorian at-risk youth achieve a post-secondary education.
KEY IMPACT METRICS
Since its inception, Starfish has seen continual increase in its key impact metrics. Starfish evaluates its success by examining:
Students’ academic grades in school
Number of returning students
Number of scholarship applicants each year
Starfish has focused on student academic grades and critical thinking.
In 2016-17, Starfish implemented a grading system and new curricula focused on critical thinking. Starfish Scholars must achieve a B average at their school by the end of their first year with Starfish in order to continue earning a scholarship.
In 2017-18, 70% of students earned an A or B average.
In 2018-19, 97% of students earned an A or B average.
Starfish has experienced exceptional student program attendance, with a rate of 88% attendance or higher since 2013-14.
The majority of students return to Starfish (who finished previous year with Starfish) each year.
100% of students we worked with in 2018-19 stayed in school and are re-enrolled for the coming academic year!
Non-scholars receive tutoring and leadership development, but do not receive scholarships.
Two of the returning students graduated high school and came back to work with the Starfish, and two others were referred to other foundations to work. In total, as of September 2017, 14 of 18 Starfish graduates have worked for or volunteered with Starfish following involvement as a student.
Starfish has seen a continued increase over the past 3 years in the number of applications and those accepted as scholars.
2014-15: 58 students applied, 41 students accepted
2015-16: 87 students applied, 55 students accepted
2016-17: 100+ students applied, 70 students accepted (a 250% increase in students accepted since the 2013-14 school year)
Number of children served last fiscal year (2018-19):
Starfish Foundation served 140 students enrolled in its programs in the last fiscal year (2018-19), with 79 receiving scholarships. Starfish has increased its scholarships in each of the past five years (up from 28 in 2013-14; 41 in 2014-15; 55 in 2015-16; and 70 in 2016-17).