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Belén Educa Foundation - Mentoring Program
Creating Spaces for Dialogue and Trust
Carmen Cisternas Zañartu, Director of Institutional Relations
What we do?
Belén Educa Foundation, in its endless pursuit to offer tools and opportunities towards an integral education for students in situations of poverty, developed a mentoring program.
It rose from the necessity of last-year students needing spaces to have conversations about their life plans. These young students belong to vulnerable sectors and, generally, in their homes, their parents or guardians work all day and have little time for dialogue.
The students do not have references in their community of anyone who has entered higher education, therefore, we seek to find leaders that can tell them about their professional experience and the paths they have taken in life.
What is asked of the mentor is the following:
- To promote skills, abilities, and values that the student can strengthen in their personality.
- To offer tools that allow better performance in academic and work settings while also contributing to one's personal life (e.g. how to establish goals and resolve conflicts).
- To encourage, ask and create spaces for permanent reflection in the meetings with students.
- To promote the formation of networks and support between the student and mentor.
- To guide the student through their choices for higher education and find the funding necessary to achieve that goal.
This program physically takes place at the locations of the companies so that the student can leave their environment. In Chile, the cities are divided by socioeconomic conditions. Therefore, allowing students to experience another social sector by expressing themselves and having conversations, viewing the spaces where they can develop as a professional, it will allow them to expand their views and believe in themselves, getting rid of their fear and the prejudices that exist between both worlds.
The main objectives are:
- Offering last-year students from the schools of Belén Educa personal guidance on any concerns they may have about personal matters, school or work, helping them to discover their life plan and incentivizing them to continue their higher education.
- Creating a space for two worlds to meet: the world of business and the youth from vulnerable sectors, searching for a space of mutual enrichment.
- Forming a link between the students with people who have attained some form of higher education, whether it be technicians or college graduates, considering that the students generally do not know people with higher education.
Why we do it?
Reality shows that living under vulnerable social contexts hinder youth in displaying their full potential. This forms low expectations and frustration that can lead to dropping out of the school system or the impossibility to continue their higher education.
To confront this issue, that in the long term can mean the perpetuation of poverty, in 2008 Belén Educa Foundation created the Mentoring Program. The program is an opportunity for executives from outstanding companies to act as an individual and monthly guide for students in their last year of high school. Through the six monthly meetings, they seek to promote professional skills and help them outline their life plan, visualizing their future career and continuing their higher education.
With this guidance, transforming the life of a student is possible and it promotes social mobility in Chile through access to higher education. So far, 84% of the students that have participated in this program have entered institutions of higher education in comparison with the national average of students in Chile which reaches 49.7%. This program devotes itself to fulfilling dreams. Furthermore, it presents a valuable opportunity for executives to contribute to quality education which is the main engine for progress.