Hello, My name is Michaela and I am hoping to get support for a very exciting project that is close to my heart -- the construction of the first ever high school in Higuera Blanca, Mexico. Higuera Blanca is a small village that sits between the Punta Mita and Litibu Resorts. The hard work of these residents, make this area a very successful tourist destination. The plan is to build a school in this community in time to begin instruction Fall 2017.
I have visited this part of Mexico my entire life and have been impressed by the highly talented people that populate these villages. Everything is handmade, the food is incredible, and the art is beautiful. With this much talent, it’s hard to understand why the success of the resorts hasn’t translated into increased prosperity in the neighboring villages. The education in the area is subpar at best, which is arguably the leading reason for the lack of money amongst the locals. I was shocked to learn that this town does not have a high school. Once the kids complete elementary and middle school, they have the option of going to the shared high school, about an hour away, or taking classes in loaned spaces, for example office spaces, garages, patios, etc. Unfortunately, many of the children drop out instead of choosing between those options. This deprives people of the basic education and skills needed to run a business, or to participate in the vibrant tourism industry that surrounds them, beyond providing low-income services. I believe that there is unimaginable, untapped potential in these communities.
It is no secret that education leads to stability and prosperity. Increasing access to free education will help shrink the socio-economic gap. Collaborative efforts like this one, between the needy and the well off, is one of the most influential ways to make significant change happen. This community’s hard work and hospitality has made possible many relaxing vacations with wonderful memories for me, for my family and friends, and for the millions who have visited. In fact, Tere and Chuy, who work in our summer home, live in Higuera Blanca with their daughters Kimberly (age 12), and Lisbeth (age 9). I would like to give back by helping to fund the construction of this, much needed, school. To this end, I ask you to consider helping this community by making a donation for the construction of the high school. Every dollar helps.
Here is a link with more information:
Below is additional project information. Thank you so much for your help and consideration, and feel free to forward this link to anyone you think may be interested in helping!
- Architect, Marc, who owns a Boutique Hotel in the area, has partnered with the Higuera Blanca community and is spearheading the design and construction of a proper high school for the students.
- The land on which the school is being built was donated by the local governing village elders (the Ejido). Historically, small rural villages, such as Higuera Blanca have placed no emphasis on higher education because most jobs have been agricultural in nature. Today’s youth find themselves with very limited agricultural job opportunities and no feasible higher education option. The Ejido voted, with 98% approval, to appropriate land for this initiative. That is a significant departure from historical beliefs.
The total project, when completed, will be about 9,500 SF and is anticipated to cost between $25 and $30 per square foot, which is very low. This estimate is based on the generous community involvement with many supplies and labor being donated from within the community.
- Coordination with S.E.P - the Mexican Secretary of Education Agency (SEP), allowed for an accredited curriculum that is within the standards of the Mexican public school system. Despite the ad hoc facilities being used, the students in the current remote HS program in Higuera Blanca are ranked #1 in the State of Nayarit, which indicates the dedication, hard work and intellect of this group of kids.
- Teachers – An agreement has been made with the director of the TBC program for the State of Nayarit, to allow the current principal to remain in place at Higuera Blanca to ensure a smooth transition to the new school facility. Additionally, at least two of the three teachers will come continue to come from Tepic (about 90 minutes away) every week to teach the students. The school will provide housing for some teachers.
- Construction has begun and will unfold in three phases
o Phase 1 is the construction of three classrooms, restrooms, and administrative offices. Completion is estimated September 2017.
o Phase 2 will be the construction of maintenance space and an apartment for the teachers.
o Phase 3 construction of three larger, theatre style classrooms, and the conversion of the three classrooms, in phase 1, to a library, art/creative space, and a cafeteria.
- Funding: Total project cost is estimated to be $250,000 -USD.
o Non-Resident Homeowners and frequent vacationers, have collected most of the funds to date, amounting to approximately $80,000 USD
o Local families are donating labor and hosting fundraisers.
o Local students have raised more than $10,000 USD from sale of their art projects. That money has been set aside for the purchase of educational materials.
- Governance - The program has been setup so that the school structure will remain within the control of the local village, and the local Municipal Government has granted their full support of the project. Any legal obstacles have already been eliminated, and the project has all approvals needed to move forward.
- Additional Benefit – As a result of the grass root nature and community support of this project, the assistant director of State Education for Nayarit, publically declared his intent to seek accreditation and federal funding for this school, to serve as a satellite campus of the University of Mexico. This would mean that students would have the opportunity to pursue the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in up to 16 different specialties. Therefore, with the addition of this new facility in Higuera Blanca, the children of this village will have tuition-free access to a kindergarten through University education.
- The most recent PEACE Newsletter has an update on the progress of the school. Scroll down the Newsletter to find it.
- Tracy Keegan
- Bill Berry
- Stacey Rodriguez
- Jennifer Hedrick