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Vimenti marks 5 yrs. of promoting economic mobility in Puerto Rico

Eradicating poverty is possible. And to prepare and motivate people to break the generational cycle of poverty in Puerto Rico, the nonprofit organization Vimenti has developed educational programs in the last five years to promote economic mobility with tangible results, like getting families to increase their income through work.

In an interview with News is my Business, Lola Yglesias, director of operations at Vimenti, said that since its inception five years ago, Vimenti’s programs have benefited more than 1,000 participants, including families and school children, from the Ernesto Ramos Antonini, Villa Prades and other surrounding communities where it focuses its efforts.

“But this has been an uphill battle because, first, as an organization, you have to earn the trust and credibility of the families we serve, both in the educational environment for their children and the services we offer comprehensively in one place,” said Yglesias.

“Vimenti is a model that is trialing solutions to create economic mobility in families,” she said. “Through our two-generation model, we provide access to comprehensive programs and services in education, social development, health and economic development to break generational cycles of poverty and create significant changes in the lives of children and their families.”

Over the past five years, 64% of Vimenti School families reported higher monthly incomes, and 22% of these families reported an increase of more than $1,000, Yglesias said.

How has that been achieved? When a family arrives at the Vimenti school to enroll their children, that family automatically gets assigned a case manager who creates a family profile based on 14 indicators, she explained.

“With that profile, we learn about that family’s basic needs and how we can open doors and teach that family how to navigate, including through the government system,” she said. “However, we start from the premise that each family knows what they need and what they want. So with that, the case managers create an annual plan that allows a family to decide what they want to emphasize.”

For example, a family whose goal is to own a home will be helped to figure out their financial status and how to establish credit and find a job if they don’t have one, Yglesias said, noting the nonprofit has an employability and career program that helps arm individuals with skills.

Yglesias said Vimenti has seen a 10% increase in parents who entered the program with only a high school diploma that today have a technical or associate degree and a 17% reduction in parental unemployment.

Vimenti also helps working single parents by providing extended hours for their school-aged children. The nonprofit’s Kindergarten through sixth grade school has 274 students. Next year, Vimenti will add the seventh grade to its curriculum, working its way up through 12th grade, when it should have 500 students enrolled, Yglesias said.

Fundraising and financials
During a recent fundraising event titled “Building Together: A look into economic mobility,” Vimenti’s executives discussed the organization’s status.”

Founded under the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, Vimenti started operating with a budget of a little more than $1 million in 2018, to having $5.6 million in 2023. The funds come from private donors, the federal government and the Puerto Rico Education Department, which assigns a per-student quota to Vimenti, which is defined as an alliance public school.

“We estimate that we need about $10,000 to address a student for a year, based on the services we offer,” Yglesias said. The local education department’s allocation falls short of that.

As part of its day-to-day, Vimenti oversees several projects, including its Full Service Community Schools initiative with the U.S. Department of Education, through which it received a $10.5 million grant to expand its two-generation model to six public schools in Puerto Rico, as reported by News is my Business.

The initiative is underway at Vimenti and Caras con Causa, also known as the Rosalina Caraballo School in Guaynabo. The next two schools will be added in August, chosen by a steering committee that will oversee and guide the strategic implementation of the project.

Two additional schools will be added in 2025.

“The impact in those schools will depend on the number of students enrolled in that school and what the school does to develop its own model. They must recognize their needs and those of their community,” Yglesias said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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