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Vimenti by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico gets $10.5M grant

Integrated family services center Vimenti by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico announced it received the approval of a five-year, $10.5 million grant from the Full-Service Community Schools Program (FSCS).

The funds, which were approved for Puerto Rico for the first time, will help expand the FSCS program in schools throughout the island, the organization stated.

The Vimenti Two-Generation model will serve as the foundation for the development and expansion of programs and services that cater to the needs of students, families, and communities in a comprehensive way. 

During Fiscal 2022, the percentage of families considered stable went up from 49% in August 2021 to 56% in June 2022. The percentage of Vimenti families that lived under the poverty line dropped from 83% to 79%. The unemployment reduction average over the past three years was 7.7%, and 8% last year.

Caras con Causa will serve as the main partner for the development and expansion of the FSCS program. The nonprofit organization drives community development to eradicate poverty through education, ecology, and economic development along with communities in Cataño and Guaynabo.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to receive these funds, which are awarded in Puerto Rico for the first time, but we appreciate even more that this grant opens doors to create partnerships and that other organizations can have access to these funds and be a part of Puerto Rico’s social and economic development,” said Bárbara Rivera-Batista, Vimenti’s executive director.

“This proposal will allow us to expand the components of our Two-Generation Model, which impacts boys, girls, and their parents. Today more than ever, we acknowledge that these comprehensive services are essential to take care of the academic, social, and economic needs that impact our students, families, and most vulnerable communities,” she said.

Through the granting of these funds, Vimenti will set in motion the Puerto Rico Full-Service Community Schools Incubation Project, which seeks to provide services to students, families, and communities to close gaps in the education, health, and labor force development areas in low-income communities.

This effort will create 11 direct jobs and approximately 28 indirect jobs.

The FSCS program funds will allow Vimenti to lead the implementation of its comprehensive services model in other schools in two of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico’s five educational regions, Rivera-Batista said.

The proposal allows the expansion in six other charter public schools and regular public schools, impacting an estimated total of 1,500 students, their families, school communities and communities in general in a five-year period.

“Awarding this proposal for the implementation of the FSCS Program in Puerto Rico shows the vital role that community groups, nonprofits and school communities play in strengthening the quality of the school offerings that our students receive,” said Michael Fernández, executive director of Caras con Causa.

“Beyond an academic service, our students and families need a holistic service that will allow them to reach their maximum potential. The communities are part of that comprehensive offering,” he said.

“We know that students learn better when we respond to their needs with a holistic approach and connect them with the services they need to succeed. Today we celebrate that effort in Puerto Rico,” said Chris Soto, senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education.

“Through the Full-Service Community Schools Program, Vimenti — created by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico — will continue its innovative work to improve students’ results, address social and emotional health and help lift families out of poverty. This is an important moment in education here in Puerto Rico,” said Soto.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos-Parés said “obtaining federal funds from this grant, which will be invested in improving the quality of life of our communities and students in the educational system, is a historical moment.”

“Our department supports and serves as a partner of this type of initiatives that contribute — just like us — to prioritize and address matters such as education gaps and providing our students and their families with tools to improve their education, health, and thus their quality of life,” he said.

“We have been witnesses to Vimenti’s success in the community, and we know it is a partner of Puerto Rico and the Department of Education in serving our students and their families. We’re confident that these funds can help expand the work that has already begun at Vimenti created by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico,” Ramos-Parés said.

This grant is part of the $63 million that the U.S. Department of Education announced related to funds for new five-year grants for the FSCS program. It seeks to support 42 education entities, nonprofits, higher education institutions or other public or private organizations that work to expand existing community schools or establish new programs in eight new states and territories.

These include Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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