Advancing Students Forward (ASF) was founded in 1984 by Monica Santos who began volunteering at an orphanage on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico while a college student at Loyola Marymount University.

According to Mexicanos Primeros, only 62% of students reach secondary school and at secondary school, about half of the students drop out.  The students at the orphanage and surrounding community fared worse due to the significant impact of poverty and crime on reaching their educational goals.

To address this disparity in access to education, Monica established the program informally by mentoring one student.  ASF now supports over 70 students who must demonstrate a commitment to reaching their academic goals in exchange for participation in the program.

The program began informally with one student  who was given a typewriter.  The student went on to finish her schooling and became a preschool teacher. As time went on, word of the program spread, donations increased and students from the neighboring communities were also given an opportunity to participate.

In the early years the primary goal was for students to complete secondary school (9th grade). Over the years support has grown and students have been given the opportunity to extend their studies. As long as a student continues to fulfill the requirements of the program they may continue participating in ASF. At the present time we have 70 participants, 18 of whom are studying at the university level and serve as  mentors to new participants.

In 2013, Students brainstormed and created the organization’s logo and the Spanish name for ASF,  “A Su Futuro” which means “On to Your Future”.  This process enabled the students to “take ownership” and identify in a personal manner with the organization.

Key Dates:

  • 1984 – Organization founded by Monica Santos with support from the Augustinian priest Father John Blethen, OSA (Order of Saint Augustine) who administered the orphanage
  • 2001 – ASF benefactor Derwin Archambault III “Archie” donated 1/2 of his estate upon his passing
  • 2002 – ASF becomes a 501 (c)(3) in the United States
  • 2006 – ASF becomes a 501(c)(3) in Mexico
  • 2010 – ASF recognized with an award recognizing the positive impact on youth in Tijuana
  • 2012 – ASF renamed Advancing Students Forward