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Jessica Bolaños faced extreme poverty as a child. Her younger brother was living in an orphanage for several years as a result of the family’s poverty and his delicate health situation. After he left the orphanage, RED began working with the family. Several years ago, the children’s mother died from AIDS. Their single income was not nearly enough to provide for the entire family’s needs, and Jessica was sure she would not be able to continue her education. The family lives in a rural community and there is no local high school within walking distance.

Jessica became one of Project RED’s first scholarship recipients and was able to get her high school diploma, thanks to both her dedication and the support she received from the RED Scholarship Fund. She traveled by bus every day to reach her school and graduated at the top of her class! 

Inspired by the work of Project RED and the impact it has made on her family’s well-being, when presented with the opportunity to go to college, she immediately decided that she wanted to study social work in order to help impact and change people’s lives the same way her life had been impacted

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As the educational needs for our children vary greatly based on each family’s specific situation, we have created the RED Scholarship Fund in order to cover the different types of support we disperse. The families’ situations are assessed by our social workers. Various factors are evaluated, such as the family’s economic situation, the type of education required for each student, the child or teen’s cognitive abilities, the distance of the home from the nearest available school, the applicant’s current grades and his or her interest in continuing in the educational process. 

Children and teens must apply each year to receive a scholarship or educational support from the RED Scholarship Fund. In order to receive a scholarship or any significant amount of educational support, children must fulfill the requirements that are set at the beginning of the school year. The main requirements for receiving a scholarship include behavioral standards, attendance and grades. We seriously consider  the potentially difficult home situation of each child.

Both high school and university level scholarship recipients must have an initial interview, along with a follow-up meeting with the Project RED staff each year. They also must fulfill requirements such as volunteer hours each year.

Types of support provided by the RED Scholarship Fund:

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School Supply Kit: $50
By providing a basic school kit, we are able to give children whose families are not able to purchase supplies themselves the opportunity to start the school year with all they need to succeed! 

High School Scholarships: $250
(amounts vary depending on the individual)

High School education is not always free in El Salvador. Even when there are free public high schools available, the costs incurred are usually too high for a family living in extreme poverty. Schools are scarce and are located in more urban areas. Hours are longer and hunger presents an obstacle in the learning process. For high school students, we provide for expenses like tuition, bus fare, meals, uniforms and materials. As is the case all over the world, an individual with a high school education has many more opportunities for a better future beyond poverty.

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Grade School Scholarships: $100
Many children in El Salvador are not able to access education because the nearest school is too far for them to reach. Simply providing money for bus fare and school lunches can change the trajectory of a child’s life.

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College Scholarships (Associate and Bachelor Degrees): $2,000
(amounts vary depending on the individual)

Only 6.7% of the world’s population possess a college degree. This is, in large part, due to economic challenges. El Salvador is a developing country and accessing this level of education is typically reserved for the upper class members of society. Financial aid is not a common practice in the country. By providing qualifying students with this level of education, we are truly helping them to break the cycle of poverty in their families for generations to come.