At Safe Money Denver, we are committed to strengthening communities and enhancing people's quality of life. Aside from community involvement on a local level, we are passionate about helping underprivileged families abroad. One cause with which we have a strong affiliation is the Volcanes Community Education Project (or VCEP), a small school based in southern Mexico.
In the past few years, VCEP has been a wellspring of inspiration for local families, who struggle to leave a perpetual cycle of extreme poverty and to attain a higher standard of living.
Many people are familiar with the coastal city, Puerto Vallarta, and its cultural vibrancy. Each year thousands of tourists visit, drawn to the beautiful tropics, inviting beaches, and quality hospitality. Much of Puerto Vallarta's local economy is tourist-driven, which attracts many families desperate for employment. But many jobs in this tourist industry rely on workers being able to read and write English. Many locals don't have sufficient mastery of English, which poses a high entry barrier to better-paying jobs.
Colonia Volcanes is one of the areas where these locals come to live. A small township, it sits on the eastern edge of Puerto Vallarta, against the nearby mountains and their sprawling jungles.
Aside from subpar employment opportunities, the poor have limited access to educational opportunities. Mexican law requires children to attend publi school until Grade 6. Mexican families must pay tuition costs so their children can continue their education. But with little to no income, further education is out of the question for many.
It's estimated that 70% of children in public schools in Puerto Vallarta don't continue with their education, instead taking on work to supplement their family finances.
VCEP: Making a Difference
Roughly 2,500 people live in Volcanes. It's been a long time coming, but over the years, VCEP has evolved from an abandoned, four-classroom building to a vibrant, local school. Schoolteachers provide instruction in English and computer literacy skills to around 180 students, Grades 3-6. Each class has 20 students, has a full-time teacher, and in many cases has a volunteer assistant.
In recent years, a sewing school has been created. It operates on a 6-month program and helps up to 30 women transition into sewing jobs upon their graduation. Much of the sewing work is tied to the hospitality operations of Puerto Vallarta, with program graduates completing sewing projects for hotel uniforms and various linen products.
You can learn more about the VCEP story here - including the growing impact it has had on this local community, and how it is helping Volcanes residents develop new, life-changing skill-sets to better their future.
At Safe Money Denver, we are proud to have played a strong role in this story. Andrew Heese and his wife, Dina, are school co-founders, and Andrew serves as School Board President. They also oversee the school summer program, help raise funds for local underprivileged children to receive Christmas gifts, and continue to grow the school's mission in other ways.
In the United States, Safe Money Denver oversees project donations from the United States.
To learn more about the Volcanes Community Education Project, please visit: http://www.volcanesproject.com/home/.
If you are interested in helping to support this worthy cause, please contact us. We will be glad to share personal insights of how VCEP is changing local Volcanes families' lives for the better.