District Grant to provide educational support for four university students in the Copper Canyon Region of Chihuahua, Mexico, in partnership with Canyon Scholars, an NGO and Sec. 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization in the U.S..A..
Educational attainment and literacy for youth are priorities among Lander Rotarians, both locally and internationally. The Lander Rotary club has a 17-year relationship with Canyon Scholars. In addition to educating students in a very poor area of Mexico, the ultimate goal for the NGO is for "college graduates to return, uplift and develop their communities". Canyon Scholars works with the families of scholars on community projects such as gardens, sustainable agricultural practices and water containment facilities. Lander Rotary joins Canyon Scholars in this mission.
The Tarahumara Indians are indigenous to Copper Canyon, which is southwest of Ciudad Chihuahua, Mexico. They have suffered centuries of poverty, exclusion, and exploitation, with loggers plundering forests and drug gangs cultivating marijuana and opium poppies in the mountains. Many bright students have to drop out of school because either their family needs them to work and help support their families, or they don't have the money to pay the costs associated with attending school.
Canyon Scholar Outcomes
To date, Canyon Scholars has provided scholarships to over 700 Tarahumara children so they could stay in school (junior high, high school, and college) and learn a trade or profession, and 110 have graduated from college.
Many students that have received scholarships have gone on to work in local, state, or federal government positions that provide services to the Tarahumara Indians, or returned to their communities to start small businesses.
The Canyon Scholars program also supports parents of students through community projects such as gardens, sustainable agricultural practices, and water containment facilities. The Copper Canyon board and staff document case studies of students and the impact of the programs on the students' lives and these case studies are available.
Grant funds will be used by students to defray the costs of books, school supplies, transportation and tuition. Students are taught how to manage money and are required to provide receipts to document all qualified expenses, including tuition for on-line learning. Each student meets with a Canyon Scholars representative five times each school year to confirm their academic progress and commitment and allocate funding for upcoming qualified expenses. The budget for 2022-2023 is for four university students at $750/student for a total of $3,000.
Leadership and Student Support
Canyon Scholars is operated through local staff in Chihuahua, Mexico and a board in the U.S.
The Canyon Scholar Executive Director in Chihuahua, Mexico, interviews students to evaluate their financial need, academic qualifications, and their motivation for continuing their education. The executive director then provides recommendations to the Canyon Scholars Board in the US for approval. The Canyon Scholars executive director and volunteers in Chihuahua provide monitoring and support to students as long as the student receives educational support from Canyon Scholars.
Lander Rotary's History of Involvement with Copper Canyon
• Lander Rotary has been a supporter of Copper Canyon since 2005 providing funds for educational support of students: uniforms, books, supplies, tuition.
• The Lander Rotary Club teamed with Rotary clubs in Novato and San Rafael, California, and Elko, Nevada to support Canyon Scholars for several years.
• The Anahuac Rotary Club near Copper Canyon and Lander Rotary worked together for two service trips by the Lander High School Interact Club (2006 and 2008), which completed improvements to basketball courts, dormitories, sanitary facilities, and classrooms at schools in Porochi, Cerocahui, and Huichorachi.
• The Lander Rotary Club has also teamed with Canyon Scholars to build a library at the Junior High School in Cusarare (2019). Covid interrupted on-site visits and changed operations at Canyon Scholars. Many of the University students are now attending on-line classes.
Lander Rotarians and Canyon Scholars personnel are currently evaluating the safety of and future for on-site visits with the Lander Valley High School Interact Club.
Lander Rotary Involvement for 2022-2023
In addition to financial support and as the safety of on-site visits is explored, Lander Rotarians will communicate with sponsored students throughout the school year. While the English/Spanish language barrier exists, we will work to bridge that barrier with short communications that provide support and encouragement for educational attainment.
Grant funds will be used to reimburse students for second semester expenses incurred in January and February 2023.