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Jul 11, 2011

Rise Up Belize gives scholarships

While a majority of primary school students are out enjoying their summer vacation, several kids from Ladyville are already occupying their time with preparations for the school year ahead.  A group of sixty students is enrolled in a weeklong program organized by Rise Up Belize, an organization founded by JoCarol Garcia.  The purpose of the NGO is to provide learning opportunities for students transitioning to high school.  Along with a team of volunteers from Sacramento, Garcia is offering remedial courses in math, language and other subjects that are important at the secondary level.  This year Rise Up Belize is awarding four high school scholarships.

JoCarol Garcia, Founder, Rise Up Belize

JoCarol Garcia

“We have a summer camp program at Our Lady of the Way in Ladyville.  It’s one of two summer camps we’re running this year and it’s part of our program through Rise Up Belize, a non-profit I started about seven years ago.  We offer free summer camps to the children [and] they’re all academically oriented so it’s a chance to beef up your skill so you don’t forget things over the summer and the students who attend, they attend all week, they get a free backpack with all their school supplies and the entire program is free to any child.”

Isani Cayetano

“Talk to us a bit about the growth of this program.  You mentioned that this was your brainchild a few years ago.  How has it grown since then?”

JoCarol Garcia

“Well we started out actually doing teacher training, teacher development programs helping teachers polish their skills in math, language, arts and science because it’s, they are topics that a lot of kids don’t like, you know.  So and then we advanced into the summer camps to help the children more directly and we’re going even further now.  We really want to help as much as possible so we’re launching a scholarship program for high school students so that more students can go to high school in Belize.  So we’re offering four scholarships this year [and] we’ll add four next year until we get to twenty scholarships putting students through high school.  They have to be native Belizeans between the ages of thirteen and sixteen [with] a GPA of 2.5 or above and anyone can apply.  They can apply each year and get all four years of high school paid for; five hundred U.S. dollars is the value of each of the scholarships we’re offering.”

Marilyn Batista

Marilyn Batista, Member, Rise Up Belize

“I see the need for especially rural children they don’t have enough opportunities or privileges like the other children in the urban area and therefore I think that it would be very beneficial to them because all of us we’re going through that economic problem in our country and I know that it is very hard for parents to find that school fees or whatever fees for high school.  I know that parents will appreciate and it will be very beneficial for our children because children they have the potential but they don’t have the opportunity to go to high school so I think it will really benefit them.”

JoCarol Garcia

“This year we have a group of high school students from St. Francis High School in Sacramento, California.  We have six students here offering the summer camp programs and we have two students in Caye Caulker who are teaching the children in Caye Caulker.  Plus we have a young man from Sand Hill, a Belizean young man, who we put through high school and are now putting through college and he is now, it’s coming full circle, he’s coming back by offering and teaching at the summer camp this year.  So our volunteers are always high school or college students from the U.S. and who maybe want to go into teaching or want to become lawyers, some kind of skill or career that involves interaction with others.”

Rise Up Belize was established in 2004 and has since offered professional development programs for roughly two hundred teachers.  In 2006, the organization extended an invitation to primary schools in Sand Hill and Caye Caulker and has assisted over a hundred students.

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