• IDRA • IDRA Newsletter • August 2018

IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Tutors Share Stories of the Program’s Impact on Their Lives

Six students received prizes in a national competition among participants in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, a nationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program of the Intercultural Development Research Association. Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors wrote about how the program helped them do better in school and how they had helped their tutees to do better.

“The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program made me open my eyes and has given me reasons that I should come to school every day, and that’s exactly what I’m doing for my Pre-K tutees.”
– Melanie Esparza, 9th Grade, South San Antonio ISD

There were competitions at both the middle school and high school levels in the United States. Winners from each competition are being awarded $200 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place along with commemorative certificates and trophies.

First Place High School Winner: Santiago Sosa
11th Grade, Ector County ISD, Texas

In his essay, Santiago Sosa wrote: “There are many reasons as to why I joined this the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, and I could go on and on as to why I stayed. I wouldn’t even be writing this if it wasn’t for my tutee who reminded me how hard it can be to learn differently from others… I know the struggles of being pulled out of class and the embarrassment of being pulled out in front of your classmates… Our experiences make us who we are. While my experience in third grade was hard, I learned that teachers are the ones who can help you see your true value. It also prepared me to work with my tutee, to show him that there are people who care, and that’s what is important in life.” See Santiago’s full essay

Second Place High School Winner: Daniela Urquidi
12th Grade, Ector County ISD, Texas

“I’ve realized that the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is more than just tutoring little kids,” wrote Daniela Urquidi. “It’s also you becoming part of an innocent child’s life and them becoming part of yours… The tutees who I was assigned to this year have taught me so much over the time I’ve spent with them. They reminded me how essential education is and that you’ll need it throughout a lifetime. They taught me patience and kindness – something that I lacked and needed. They taught me about life, things I never knew I needed, all while I was teaching them things they would need in life as well.” See Daniela’s full essay

Third Place High School Winner: Melanie Esparza
9th Grade, South San Antonio ISD, Texas

Melanie Esparza wrote in her essay: “The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program made me open my eyes and has given me reasons that I should come to school every day, and that’s exactly what I’m doing for my Pre-K tutees… I was losing interest in school because of my grades being low. I now feel good about seeing my progress reports and report cards!… All those good grades have made my attendance much better… I know [my tutees] enjoy me being there, and I wouldn’t want to miss a day of seeing their smiling faces. That makes my day go on a lot better… Being in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program really made me think a lot about my future… I have learned that responsibility and dedication are important to be a good role model. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has changed me, and I am determined to follow my dreams.” See Melanie’s full


First Place Middle School Winner: Marely García
8th Grade, La Joya ISD, Texas

“After I started tutoring, everything changed,” wrote Marely García. “I learned to work and be patient with younger students. I also became more understanding and helpful toward my peers and siblings. Being a tutor has showed me that not only do we teach our tutees, but they also teach us and help us mature… I’m glad I was chosen to be in this program because it has made me a better person. I hope that these students I’m tutoring remember this opportunity that was given to them so that they will be the best they can be in the future.” See Marely’s full essay

Second Place Middle School Winner: Isaias Zavala
7th Grade, La Joya ISD, Texas

In his essay, Isaias Zavala wrote: “The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has helped me become a more responsible student and person. In school, I would often misbehave, and now that I have been in the program I’m afraid to get a [disciplinary] referral, because I don’t want to get exited out of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program… When I teach, I want the tutees to believe that I am very smart and that they can become smarter than me. It has been a pleasure tutoring at the elementary school, because when they see me walk into their class, the tutees get very happy. The spark in their faces helps me forget all the problems that are happening at home and school.” See Isaias’ full essay

Third Place Middle School Winner: Sipriano Badillo
7th Grade, La Joya ISD, Texas

“With the paychecks that this very awesome program has given me, I get to put some food on the table for my family and me,” wrote Sipriano Badillo. “This makes me really very proud of how I can contribute to my family!… I honestly thought I was going to change my tutees, but I guess I was wrong, because they changed me… I am looking forward to giving more and more of me, to become a way better tutor than what I already am… The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is magic! It has transformed me into a stronger person… Thank You Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program for changing my life! Keep changing lives because that is what this program does best.” See Sipriano’s full essay

Learn More about the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program

Website: Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – Learn more about the program and how to bring it to your school

Video: Dropout Prevention that Works – Overview of how the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program impacts students and schools. [12 min.]

Winning Essays: Full text of the six winning essays

See color highlights flier for 2018 (pdf).

Honorable mentions were awarded to students in schools that submitted multiple student essays; these students had the highest score at their campus.

Also, students at Charles C. Ball Academy in the San Antonio ISD, Texas, submitted essays. Amber Ortiz received first place. And while not yet in middle school, our younger tutors in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program at PS94 Kings College School in New York City wrote their own essays. Barbara Rosario received first place among those.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, created by IDRA, is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. Since its inception in 1984, the program has kept more than 34,100 students in school, young people who were previously at risk of dropping out. According to the Valued Youth creed, all students are valuable, none is expendable. The lives of more than 671,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program.

[©2018, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the August 2018 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]