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Vimenti reports progress in fight against child poverty for ’19-’20

Two years after starting operations at the Ernesto Ramos Antonini Residential in San Juan, Vimenti by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico registered an improvement in the well-being of families, academic achievement of its students and levels of employability of its participants, program officials said.

This was part of the findings of a report of results and learnings for the year 2019-2020 that the center presented during a virtual online news conference.

The levels of intervention with which Vimenti measures the changes and improvement of families reflected progress, including an increase in the percentage of families considered stable from 20% in August 2019 to 31% in June 2020.

“In the Vimenti center, families are classified by levels of intervention, using 14 indicators that impact social, economic, health, schooling factors, among others,” said Vimenti Executive Director Bárbara Rivera-Batista.

“This way, the tools are provided to the participant individually. Each family is assigned a case manager with whom they work on their family plans and they remain in a process of mentoring and guidance throughout the year,” she said.

Meanwhile, the profile of families changed positively in aspects of education, increasing from 11% to 14% 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% to 22%.

On the other hand, the indicator of families with at least one unemployed member fell by 14%. However, 93% of families continue to live under levels of poverty, the report showed.

“This data demystifies the theories that the poor don’t want to work or don’t want to change the conditions in which they live. On the contrary, our families make great efforts to overcome those economic challenges and many times the obstacles and vulnerability in which they live don’t make it easier for them to achieve immediate financial changes in their lives,” Rivera-Batista said.

“In fact, two of our participants managed to create their businesses despite the challenges they have faced in the midst of a pandemic, thanks to the support of our entrepreneurship program,” she said.

The results of the report for Vimenti School, the first charter school in the island, showed that the proficiency level of its students reached 62.5% of a goal of 70%.

During the 2019-2020 school year, Vimenti School passed 92 students, from kindergarten through third grade, and benefited 123 members of their families last year.

At the beginning of the school year, Vimenti School identified several 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, the study showed

Currently Vimenti School has an enrollment of 126 kindergarten to third grade students and 109 families. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, education is being offered online. Given that 65% of families did not have computers; and 47% did not have access to an Internet connection, Vimenti landed a federal grant to buy 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 Vimenti families, participants and community is greater. This year we had the challenge of reinventing ourselves to be able to give continuity to our services and programs in all of the areas of the center despite the health crisis caused by the pandemic,” said Rivera Batista.

The Employability and Careers Program for youth and adults has graduated 120 participants, of which 71% are currently employed and 84% have retained their jobs for three months or more. Of these, 56% 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, especially those facing poverty,” she said.

“The learnings of our model during the past two years indicate that if we work with the family  to break the generational cycle of poverty, and if we address the barriers and obstacles that our vulnerable children and families have, mobility to a better quality of life is definitely achieved,” Rivera-Batista said.

As part of the services offered to families and the community, Vimenti delivered 45,433 meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The project also served 262 active extended-hours participants between the ages of 5-21, in addition to 510 adults who participated in the economic development programs and several community impact programs.

“These results, challenges, and learnings reaffirm the sense of urgency we have as citizens to be part of the solution, that working with the family is crucial to eradicate child poverty in Puerto Rico,” said Eduardo Carrera-Morales, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs 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.”

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

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