Business Plan complete!

We have just completed our 27 page business plan, that outlines where we are, where we want to go, and the in’s and out’s of how we plan to execute this organization.  With this complete, we can now file for our own 501(c)(3) status, which makes us officially a non-profit organization.

We are currently using the 501(c)(3) status of the non-profit organization, CRISPAZ, in order to allow all donations to be tax deductible.  We hope that by January 2011 iOYE will have its own 501(c)(3).

This is definitely an exciting time for us!


Now that both Michael and I are back in the states, things are a bit more difficult to get done.  The obvious reason being that all of the “staff” members are in four different locations.  Nonetheless, we have been very efficient during the whole process.

Currently, we are finalizing the business plan and creating a fund-raising strategy.  Part of this strategy is creating a professional power-point presentation that we can present to individuals or groups who are interested in donating to our cause.

Thus far, things have been very promising.  In the past two days, I have received two inquiries about our program.  They came from people who have been to El Salvador and who share the same passion for the country as we do.  I feel great things are still to come.

As soon as we complete the business plan and powerpoint presentation, we will be sure to post those on the website, iOYE.org so that you can take a look.

It’s about lunchtime here in Saint Louis, and I could really go for some pupusas!!!


Pupusa from Nellies in El SAL

First Weekend

It is the first weekend without Cory here in El Salvador. Francisco, Veronica, and I had a relaxing weekend. This week should bring new light to our project, however. I have a trip planned to Guarjila on Wednesday, which will last until Sunday. Also, on Sunday we are going to bring Mario, one of the kids who inspired the program, to Suchitoto.

Sr. Prggy and Berty are putting on an event for all the kids of the areas surrounding Suchitoto. Basically another problem with education in El Salvador is based around guidance. The kids have no support when they enter the university. They are expected to pick a career and start from day one, with little to no hope of changing careers (majors). No one helps these kids choose what career fits their personality. The kids normally just choose what other people they know have done, or a career based around what their parents do. They have no concept of the vast differences in career choices, and hence have no idea that they could like another career better than what they have chosen.

This event should be fun, but the stay will be interesting. This week my dictionary will be my best friend. We will see how much I can communicate with the people during my week stay. Hopefully I will learn a lot. Especially how to make beans and tortillas!

We spent most of the day in Ahuachapan, El Salvador, which is a department (i.e. state) about and hour and a half outside of San Salvador.  There we toured a private school, which has preschool, gradeschool, and high school.  The sweet thing about it is that it’s a pretty school and it’s virtually free to go to.

What they essentially want to do is create a model school for the other schools in El Salvador to emulate.  In turn, they are doing things that are not necessarily common in the public schools in El Salvador.  This includes offering a state of the art science lab, having a church on campus to offer the kids direction, and also having various “committees” (groups) that have responsibilities, such as a cooking committee or a cleaning committee, in order to involve every kid.

It was crazy how we came to know about this school.  When the person sitting next to me on the plane from Atlanta to El Salvador pulled out a signed picture of Steve Nash (NBA player), she immediately got my interest.  We got talking about why each of us were going to El Salvador, and it was then when I learned that her family ran a private school in Ahuachapan.  It wasn’t long after this that she invited us all out there for lunch and a tour.  We had an excellent time!

The great thing about the relationship that we established today is that they too expressed the struggle that their students are faced with after they graduate from high school.  In fact, none of their students have had the opportunity to attend higher education.  We spoke of about our project’s goal and how we could team up in the mere future in order to take their intelligent graudates and send them to trade school or the University.

We’re definitely headed in the right direction, as the more people we meet, the more resources and advice we gather.  We have had two very productive days so far this week!

Wow, what a great week this has been.  We’ve been able to accomplish so much in the past couple of days that I get more and more excited about this organization every day.

Now that all of the research and meetings are out of the way, it’s time for the nitty gritty work…a business plan.  This is something that we are definitely not looking forward to, but hey, it will allow us to formalize all of our reserach and ideas.

With a lot of help coming from Billy Kavula in campus ministry at SHC, I think we’ll be able to compose a really good plan that clearly shows how we are going to execute and maintain our mission and vision.

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The New Direction

Today brought new hope to our disheartened spirits, which was much needed. After we talked with Dean Beackley things seemed to change completely, and our initial plan seemed to not be possible. Today changed all of that, and as Francisco said, “The project finally touched ground”.

Today we visited Sr. Peggy in Suchitoto. I had a feeling even before we arrived in El Salvador that she would be the key, or hold some advice, to set the project on course.

Our day started early, because we wanted to get to Suchitoto by around 9:30-10. The normal person would have thought that a bad day was coming by how it started off. Our first fiasco happened when we realized we forgot the cameras that the El Salvador group collected for Sr. Peggy throughout the year. After this we were on the road again but to find out that Francisco left his car’s registration at home, since he recently picked his Toyota Hilux up from his brother-in-law’s house. Things seemed to be rough at first, but better things were coming in the future. As we arrived on the hot June day we met with Sr. Peggy and her assistant Berty. We began to talk about our plan, and it turned out that Sr. Peggy was working with a church and an individual from Michigan to provide scholarships to the university for the poor in the surrounding area of Suchitoto, which received less aid than Guarjila. Sr. Peggy and Berty spent over an hour describing the program to us. Also, it turned out that Berty was a graduate of the program, and he returned to help Sr. Peggy run the program after he graduated.

Basically she uses the program to empower the kids, so they can take ownership of their education. The kids get paid a stipend every month, which must cover everything from rent to tuition and food. This allows the kids to learn to manage money, because everyone must pay into the bills with their stipend. Every weekend one of the five kids who live in the house goes home and gets food for everyone. This works, because all the kids are from the same town so the parents of every kid sends food back. Every kid must take turns cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc. This makes the kids live in a community atmosphere, which helps them build relationships for the long run. Each kid must report to Berty and Sr. Peggy at least twice a year, but they seem to keep in contact more often. This helps them make sure that the kids live up to the contract they sign, which includes things like not drinking and passing all of their classes. Also, they are expected to report to Berty when they are struggling in a class and need help.

Sr. Peggy chooses the kids based on their class ranking in their high school, which is a top school in El Salvador. She knows all of the families well, and talks to teachers to get a true feel for the maturity of the kids. She “researches” the kids extensively to make sure they can handle the transition.

Later in the day we met with a lady at the UCA, who gave us a little more advice on things to watch out for when looking at schools to send kids. This did not seem like very much, since the meeting with Sr. Peggy went so well but it gave us an idea of which schools were the best.

Overall today was the best day we have had in El Salvador since we arrived. We finally have direction, and are ready to pan out rest so we can sell the idea to investors. Keep checking up for more adventures in El Salvador, and keep praying for our project.

Weekend Recap

Having known that we could not do too much work during the weekend, we decided to use the time to relax and see more of Salvadoran culture. The weekend did not turn into a time to play, because some interesting things happened that have led to more work for the week.

Our weekend started with a get together with Francisco’s friends. It was very nice to meet people who live and work in El Salvador. The people all came from various backgrounds, but they were all successful and in their 30s to early 40s. They were all curious about our trip, and what brought us to El Salvador. We described our first trip and what called us to return for a second time. Many of them were very impressed, and glad that we are taking on this task.

As the night went on we got to talk to all the people individually. One of the first contacts we made was a man named Roberto, who was a civil engineer in El Salvador. He was very impressed, and wanted to give us all the support that they could provide in El Salvador. He happened to be part of the Rotary Club, and told us that the club would be more than willing to help our project financially and with whatever work we needed help with.

The next person that we spoke to extensively was Francisco’s good friend Jerry. He, and most of the other people, taught english at a school in El Salvador. He mentioned a lady who has an orphanage in the area. Also, he told us that he would like to help by teaching English to the kids that we brought in from the Campo. We going to set a meeting up with the lady this week to discuss her project, so we can get more ideas for our project.

Saturday also brought some interesting revelations for our project. The day started by the landscapers coming to cut the grass. To me it was amazing to see a man cut the grass merely with a machete. It also made me realize that the people who physically work the hardest in this country seem to be the ones who suffer the most, and get paid the least.

Saturday night we went to dinner at a local Japanese restaurant. We sat with a couple who had two kids. After the chef came and prepared our meals the couple struck up a conversation with us. They were very interested as to why we were in El Salvador. We told them our story, and the man seemed more interested after he heard the details. He was a pediatrician in El Salvador who owned soccer teams in a small town in the Campo. His team targeted elementary school kids, so they would stay out of trouble after school was over. His focus was on education, because to be on the team the kid must attend school and do well. Also, the kid must have an eye toward high school, and eventually university. After much conversation we got all of his contact information, and have hopes of contacting him this week.

It seems through meeting people in El Salvador, that most are willing to help. It is amazing that we are meeting new contacts everyday who shape the overall goals of our project, and share the will to help those in need.

This week we are meeting once again to determine the direction of our project, since things have been changing as new contacts have been formed. We plan to visit Sr. Peggy in Suchitoto. Also, we are going to visit a girl Cory met on the flight to El Salvador, so we can see the high school her parents run. Things should get more interesting this week, because we are going to be extremely busy planing the details