Our Story

Juan Velasco visiting with children at the child development center.

Programa Velasco began in December 2007, as a scholarship program for childrenenrolled in a child development center within New Dawn Association of El Salvador, ANADES. The center faced a financial crisis while trying to sustain itself and still providing affordable tuition fees for families who lived in extreme poverty. At the time, Juan Velasco, a professor from Santa Clara University was living in El Salvador and teaching with the university's study abroad program, Casa de la Solidaridad. Annie Boyd, a friend of Juan’s and a Casa alum, worked for the Casa and served as a volunteer social worker at the center.

Given the financial situation that the center and families faced, Juan and Annie wanted to ensure that more children would have access to early childhood education. To sustain the center while still offering families affordable tuitions fees, Juan came up with an idea to provide a scholarship to a child. The center greatly appreciated his initiative because with the scholarship, the child’s family could pay a lower tuition fee while the center received enough funds to operate. Juan and Annie encouraged more friends and family to sponsor a child. With time, more children attended the center and more members of the international community were involved in the program. In honor of Juan's initiative, the staff at the center named the program after him. Since 2008, Programa Velasco has supported between 30-36 children a year through the generosity of sponsors from the United States, Canada and Spain.

Juan and Annie continued to reflect on how Programa Velasco could respond to the needs of the community and families. They saw that just providing a scholarship was not enough to protect children’s rights and ensure they had an integral education. Families needed access to social services and mothers needed opportunities to gain economic security. To achieve this end, Programa Velasco created its mission: “To educate and empower children and families to create social change in El Salvador” and began developing and funding its other projects: Family Support Services and the Women’s Empowerment Project

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Contact Information

Programa Velasco

P.O. Box 601
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
Tel: (331) 481-6517
E-mail: info@programavelasco.org