• IDRA Newsletter • March 2009

San Antonio, February 24, 2009 – Six students received prizes in a national competition among participants in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. A nationally recognized-cross-age tutoring program, IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In addition, IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in Brazil is celebrating its 10th anniversary. To celebrate these two milestones, the Intercultural Development Research Association sponsored an essay contest in the United States.

  • Second Place High School Winner – Nubia Cid, South San Antonio High School
  • Third Place High School Winner – Nora Isaac of Uvalde High School
  • First Place Middle School Winner – Jamilleth Hernandez, Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School, La Joya
  • Second Place Middle School Winner – Mary Vidaurri, Memorial Middle School, La Joya
  • Third Place Middle School Winner – Crisol Ortuño, Ann Richards Middle School, La Joya

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors wrote about how the program had helped them do better in school and how they had helped their tutees to do better. There were competitions at both the middle school and high school levels. Winners from each competition received $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third place. A single grand prize winner Gabriella Guajardo has won an opportunity to represent all U.S. program sites at the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Brazil’s 10th Anniversary Celebration in Brazil for herself, her mother and the teacher coordinator from South San High School.

In her essay, Gabriella Guajardo wrote, “Since I became a tutor, life to me has endless possibilities, dreams and goals that I can accomplish when I just sit down, relax and look at the small things in life.”

“The program is helping me reach my goal and dream, which is to become a teacher,” Nubia Cid wrote in her essay. “To me this program is a stepping stone to becoming a teacher. When I tutor the children, I feel like a real teacher. Hopefully when I grow up, my dream will be fully accomplished.”

“Being in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has inspired me,” wrote Nora Isaac. “I love helping the little kids learn. I feel so good inside when they finally understand what they are learning. They are always so proud of their work… I believe that if every kid had a tutor, they would most likely want to go to college and become good people for their communities. I love the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.”

In her essay, Jamilleth Hernandez wrote, “I have a purpose now because of this program, but most important is that I now know that I have a reason for being alive. Thank you Coca-Cola for caring enough to provide us with such a valuable and life-changing experience. For I truly believe that if it hadn’t been for the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I wouldn’t have found the real me.”

“Tutoring means so much to me, it’s hard to fit it all in one essay,” Mary Vidaurri wrote in her essay. “Teaching might be my calling, but I’m not so certain right now. One thing is for sure, I love tutoring!”

Crisol Ortuño wrote: “A memory is something that you can carry on forever. I have the memory of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in my mind and in my heart. I remember seeing my tutees’ flashing white smiles as I entered their classroom. Who would have thought that I, the always quiet and shy girl, could have changed their minds about learning in school?”

South San Antonio ISD has implemented the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in the district for the past 25 years and helped its students stay in school, have increased academic performance, improve school attendance and advance to higher education. Likewise, La Joya ISD has implemented the program for 17 years and Uvalde Consolidated ISD for the past five years.

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 29,000 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 541,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program.

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2009, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the March 2009 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.]