KKIS or Keeping Kids in School was started with the belief that education changes lives; that all children should have access to public education.
Keeping Kids In School is not an easy task in Mexico where public high school costs more than 2 months of an average salary for parents. The national education level is 9th grade and 53% of high school-age children are not in school. This is a tragedy we at KKIS work to overcome.
“When a child looks into your eyes and says quietly that she wants a notebook and pencil for Christmas… well your heart just melts.” That’s what KKIS founder and retired teacher, Gayle Collins, recalls hearing in the early days of The KKIS Project.
Education is a luxury for far too many in Mexico
With wages extraordinarily low and little federal funding for public education, many students in Mexico need financial support to stay in public school.
The students receiving financial assistance from KKIS go to schools in some of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the Riviera Maya. Schools we support are recommended by the local school system administrators. Individual students are recommended by the public high school Directors and teachers KKIS collaborates with.
Over the past 10 years, the KKIS team has learned that a great deal more than financial support is required to break the cycle of poverty.
Step by step KKIS has been working to eliminate obstacles to public education and provide students with a vision and the tools for achieving their dreams, and in the long run, improve their community.
KKIS began supporting young students in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, by distributing school supplies in 2011. By 2015 KKIS began a high school scholarship program that has achieved a high school graduation rate of 86% versus the national average of 30%. In 2017, a University Scholarships program was initiated. Today KKIS can boast of having 5 university graduates, with more on the way!
Since its inception, KKIS has given over 13,000 students school supplies, awarded 344 annual high school scholarships and 48 university scholarships.
In 2018, KKIS moved from a kitchen table into a humble 1,500 square foot office and hired 2 full-time employees to help make the growing programs more efficient and impactful.
Scholarship students receive not only financial assistance, but also English classes, life counseling, and are assigned an Advisor who takes them through a curriculum designed to open their eyes to new experiences and ideas about what is possible with education.
Upon learning that only 30% of 1st generation university graduates find jobs in their field, KKIS initiated a Wings Program to ensure that their university students successfully transition into professional roles they went to school to achieve. The Wings Program helps students put together a resume, learn how to network, interview for a job, and enables them to ask an employer for what he/she wants.
This year, KKIS is expanding to Tulum. With the help of our donors, supporters, and volunteers, KKIS now supports 70 High school students and 23 university students with scholarships in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Pretty amazing – right?
The tools and opportunities KKIS provides fall into three broad categories that together are needed to help end generational poverty. They include money, education, and connections outside of their current social circle.
KKIS provides tools & opportunities – the students do the rest.
KKIS is honored to have 1,700 supporters, more than 75 active volunteers, support from 11 local businesses, 7 foundations, and 20 individuals, all, fundraising on its behalf. Most of the money raised by the KKIS Project comes from individuals giving selflessly to help a child make his life better through education.
We believe that Education changes Lives. Education changes communities. Education changes everything!
While 12 years of education in Mexico is compulsory, the average number of years of education is only 9. Students who want to go on to high school need to pay for an entrance exam, school fees, transportation, and uniform costs. We believe in public education. It is not a perfect system in any country, but we believe that all children should have access to 12 years of education.
The good news is it costs less than $2 USD per day to keep a student in high school.
If you are anything like us, you will agree that so much of why we love Playa del Carmen has to do with the amazing locals. So why not do something for the community in return?
Take action, start a recurring donation now!