23rd April 2014


Fostering a future generation of leaders

Fostering a future generation of leaders

If you're ever flicking through television channels late at night, more than likely you've come across a small child with wide eyes and a distended stomach asking you to sponsor a child.  Maybe you clicked to the next channel...

You’ve seen ads encouraging you to financially sponsor a child in a poor country. But does sponsorship work?

“Yes,” says Bruce Wydick, professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, who studied the long-term impacts on sponsored children.

Wydick and his study co-authors Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota Paul Glewwe and lead field researcher and doctoral student Laine Rutledge, found that sponsorship does help children break the cycle of poverty.

“What adolescents need more than anything is to feel they can master something.”

Sponsorship impact

“Sponsored children complete one to one and a half years more schooling than non-sponsored children,” says Wydick, noting sponsored children are more likely to become community leaders and church leaders as adults. 

Wydick’s study looked exclusively at Compassion International’s sponsorships in six countries – two in Latin America, two in Asia and two in Africa, comparing data on sponsored individuals and their unsponsored peers.

“With sponsored children, we find the children have higher aspiration levels in terms of education and employment,” says Wydick.

For example, there’s a 35 percent increase in a sponsored child growing up to have a white-collar job, such as a nurse or a teacher.

Best practices

Sponsorship programs that focus on the development of children work well.

“What adolescents need more than anything is to feel they can master something,” says Dick Roberts, Chairman of the Sally & Dick Roberts Coyote Foundation, who coordinated after-school programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District before retiring in 2007.

“To the extent we can reduce violence in other countries, we can reduce violence in the U.S.”

Roberts says “peer to peer programs,” where youth learn about important matters such as substance abuse, HIV, teen pregnancy and other issues that they face, are successful. “Learning something that has an impact on their lives and then sharing that knowledge helps build life skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, empathy, and effective communication.”

Youth projects provide adolescents with a “pyramid of support” from caring adults to their peers says Roberts.

Youth projects provide adolescents with a “pyramid of support,” says Roberts.

“It really gives kids in slums and poor villages a chance,” he says.

Investing in youth

Investing in at-risk youth around the globe is also a priority for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“To the extent we can reduce violence in other countries, we can reduce violence in the U.S.,” says Mark Feierstein, USAID’s assistant administrator.

USAID’s focus is strengthening education for at-risk youth.

“If you can provide youth with positive alternatives, education and jobs, they’re less likely to engage in crime.”

BY: Kristen Castillo

 

Click here to learn more about children's empowerment in the region.


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