For most students in the community that Empowerment International serves, university education is not possible due to economic and academic limitations. The University Program gives students from the EI’s teen program an opportunity to further their education through both financial and academic assistance.
Students are given access to resources to succeed in higher education. These resources include stipends, computer and Internet access, space to study, career counseling, emotional counseling, medical care and homework assistance. In addition, EI offers students co-scholarships, in conjunction with partnering universities.
How it works:
Once a student decides to attend university, he/she works with an EI staffer to select a university and a career path, based on his/her personal interests and the availability of related jobs in Nicaragua. Once accepted, the student begins an internship with Empowerment International. As an intern, the student gains professional skills, earns an adequate stipend and gives back to the community. While in university, students become role models in the community, particularly to the children who study at the Empowerment Center.
At the conclusion of the University Program, students have a solid career path with viable job prospects, a university degree, work experience at the Empowerment Center, and self-esteem born out of being a role model in the community.
Efforts like EI’s University Program promote Nicaragua’s overall efforts to builds a more productive and educated workforce. Already outside companies like the USA’s Sitel, which has 2000 Nicaraguan employees, are bringing in jobs. A more educated workforce will help attract additional outside industries.
Further, a more educated population leads to lowering the birth rates, important to eradicating poverty. According to the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (April 2011) “Higher levels of education, particularly among girls, had a strong correlation to declining fertility and better development outcomes…”