IFC Launches New Education Program with Six Grants

Janie Albright Blank - International Friendship Club
March 24, 2014

The International Friendship Club (IFC) has a long history of funding local area schools and educational programs. For many years, IFC member Mel Bornstein headed the Education effort, helped countless schools build playgrounds and bathrooms, and made sure many a student gained a better education. With Mel's passing last summer, IFC President Dan Grippo put out a call for IFC members to join a new Education Committee. A robust committee of 9 members formed consisting of IFC members Marilyn Clark, Hélène Garneau, Ted Green, John Warren, Rosena Davison, Larry Peterson, Louella Levey, Penny Caceres, and Henry Golas, who serves as Education representative on the IFC Advisory Board.

The committee scheduled public forums in February and heard from a number of local organizations with educational programs. Groups were asked to submit funding proposals for consideration. As a result of this process as well as site visits to each institution, the IFC has awarded grants to the following six programs sponsored by local Asociaciones Civiles (registered non-profits):

1) American School's "Leer y Crecer" program helps to build libraries in rural communities with the involvement of American School students and of the local families and students in the rural areas. Books are donated to start local libraries and teachers are offered workshops on how to use the libraries as centers of community learning.

2) British-American School's "Me to We" program. Students and teachers from British-American School visit with students in public schools in economically challenged Colonia Volcanas, offering English and computer classes, other forms of assistance and support, and building ties and friendships across cultures.

3) Centro Comunitario SETAC. The IFC will help SETAC print informational brochures with specific, local resource and contact information targeted to Vallarta populations at risk for HIV infection, and will support SETAC efforts to reach remote barrios with information, testing, counseling and support services.

4) Biblioteca Los Mangos. The local community library is entirely funded by private sources and is in great need of an upgrade to its public-access computers that serve students and library patrons. The IFC will help them upgrade their computers with this grant.

5) Puerto Vallarta Youth Orchestra. This educational and artistic venture is well on its way to introducing hundreds of local children to the beauty, discipline, and challenge of learning classical music and participating in an orchestra. Classes for children ages 8 - 22 are conducted after school on a wide variety of instruments and also on topics such as music theory and music history. Free concerts are offered at local and rural schools and several paid concerts a year help cover costs. Most of the students receive scholarship support, and there is always a need for musical instruments they can use to learn on, especially smaller instruments for younger students. The IFC will help them obtain some instruments with a grant.

6) Volcanas Community Education Project. This after-school project involves the families in one of the most economically challenged communities in the region in a collaborative effort with teachers and volunteers who offer English classes, computer training, and for those students who struggle reading Spanish, remedial reading classes. The IFC will help replenish their teacher stipend fund that has been depleted by needed construction costs.

The IFC is also looking at collaborative projects with other local organizations and hopes to fund further community education projects in the near future. IFC President Dan Grippo thanks all IFC members, supporters, donors, and volunteers whose fundraising efforts on IFC Tours, IFC Special Events, Classes, and Clubhouse Activities makes this educational funding possible.

The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta A.C. It is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 48300. Telephone is (322) 222-5466, email is ifcvallarta@gmail.com.

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