ASF Partners with Centro de Comunidad, Colonia Tecolote in Tijuana, Mexico
The Centro de Comunidad, A.C. (Centro) was founded by Betsy McEnerney in the 1980’s. Sisters Maureen Keegan and Rachel Daniels members of the Sisters of Charity Mary Our Mother of Mercy and founders of Emmaus Today, Inc. joined the board in 1993 and were major funders of the Centro until Emmaus Today dissolved in 2019. The work of the center now continues in partnership with Advancing Students Forward, known as A Su Futuro (ASF) in Mexico. The Centro community center is located in Colonia Tecolote in the city of Tijuana, Mexico.
Colonia Tecolote is an underserved neighborhood in the southern area of the city. Unfortunately, it is negatively impacted by escalating violence as a result of the concentration of drug trafficking, gangs and organized crime in this area. Almost 50% of the residents live in poverty earning less than $800 a month. More than half of the population is under the age of 14. There is a high drop-out rate and most of the residents have not completed schooling beyond middle school. Adolescents in this area feel strong parental pressure to work and help the family deal with the economic challenges they face. This neighborhood lacks options for youth which makes them vulnerable to negative influences. There is a need for more schools to accommodate the number of students who want to enroll and there are very few vocational training options. There is also a lack of public recreational space and minimal educational activities available.
Centro de Comunidad, A.C. community center and ASF work together to address these issues and provide positive options especially for the youth in the area of Colonia Tecolote. The Centro offers a variety of classes including computer skills, English, beautician and baking. ASF students tutor elementary students at the daily Homework Club and are also responsible for the month-long Summer Camp attended by 100 neighborhood children each year. The community center is also home to one of the few libraries in the city of Tijuana.
ASF students conduct their monthly meetings at the Centro de Comunidad A.C. and perform volunteer service. Students have access to the computer lab and academic tutoring. ASF is working to raise the overall level of educational attainment of the community. As of 2019, 31 students from ASF have graduated from college and hundreds have completed high school. These young people are role models and mentors to those they serve. ASF students are working hard to bring change to this community in many positive ways.