Reflections on the First Week

When we started the Institute five years ago, we had it in our hearts and minds to raise up leaders so that, one day, we could hand off this initiative to them. We believed that they would take it further than any of us could ever dream.

Friends, it’s happening.

I am still in awe of the fact that we are living in this moment right now. And while this is absolutely incredible in the big, grand picture, it is perhaps most special and powerful in the small details.

This summer, we have a program staff of over 25—and only 3 are from outside of Mexico. We knew we needed to build a robust orientation, so, with the help of Sabrina and Alejandro, we planned a week of team building, information sharing, and coaching to get everyone ready for the students’ arrival.

One of our sessions focused on our role as hosts here. It is our job to create an environment of welcome and wonder, not just for our students, but for our guests. This summer, more than 60 people are joining us to serve, support, and invest in our kids. And it is our joy to make sure they are invited in from the second they get off of the plane until the moment they return to the airport.

It has created a tone of celebration from moment one.

Perhaps the biggest celebration so far—and certainly the highlight for us as a leadership team—is the ownership and care that Sabrina and Alejandro have shown over every single detail. This is their Institute, and they are building it for those who will go after them.

This is the stuff world change is made of.

Seguimos adelante,

Amy

Here We Go!

HERE WE GO!

The Institute begins today, our students are about to arrive, and we are SO EXCITED.

We’ve spent the last week with our leadership team (over 90% of whom are local!), preparing for our students…and they arrive TODAY.

To get us in the spirit of a great summer, our Co-Directors, Sabrina and Alejandro, filmed this message just for you: 

You need to meet these young heroes.

Here they are: the incredible young people who make up the class of the 2019 Institute

In a few short weeks, these remarkable students will be arriving for a summer full of learning, discovery, boldness, and adventure.

And you can encourage them right now. 

Read about all 20 of these rockstar young leaders, then ignite their futures by making a gift to support this summer’s Institute. 

Abner describes himself as an optimist. When he struggled in school, he kept pushing forward. And as he told us in his interview, "I always believe that I can do it." He loves drawing and dreams of becoming a graphic designer. 

Abner describes himself as an optimist. When he struggled in school, he kept pushing forward. And as he told us in his interview, “I always believe that I can do it.” He loves drawing and dreams of becoming a graphic designer.

Angel's big goal for the Institute is to get out of his comfort zone and learn. He dreams of studying auto mechanics so that he can work on cars, and above all, he cares deeply about all of the people around him. 

Angel’s big goal for the Institute is to get out of his comfort zone and learn. He dreams of studying auto mechanics so that he can work on cars, and above all, he cares deeply about all of the people around him.

During her interview, Darina told us, "I have perseverance. I've faced a lot of challenges, but I am here and I am smiling." And that she is. She dreams of becoming a math teacher, and we are so excited to welcome her this summer. 

During her interview, Darina told us, “I have perseverance. I’ve faced a lot of challenges, but I am here and I am smiling.” And that she is. She dreams of becoming a math teacher, and we are so excited to welcome her this summer.

Milka's big goals for the summer are to build confidence and to overcome any nerves and insecurity she feels as she pursues her dreams. She loves food, so she is interested in learning more about gastronomy. 

Milka’s big goals for the summer are to build confidence and to overcome any nerves and insecurity she feels as she pursues her dreams. She loves food, so she is interested in learning more about gastronomy.

Álvaro joined us at the Winter Conference and decided he wanted to apply for the Institute. Already charismatic and welcoming, he wants to learn to better express himself this summer. And he dreams of becoming a pilot! 

Álvaro joined us at the Winter Conference and decided he wanted to apply for the Institute. Already charismatic and welcoming, he wants to learn to better express himself this summer. And he dreams of becoming a pilot!

Soft-spoken and creative, Abel loves to draw and dreams of studying graphic design. He knows his community struggles with economic poverty, and he is excited to learn more about how serve those around him. 

Soft-spoken and creative, Abel loves to draw and dreams of studying graphic design. He knows his community struggles with economic poverty, and he is excited to learn more about how serve those around him.

After joining us at the Winter Conference in January, Edgar decided to apply for the Institute this summer. He loves music and told us, "I see a lot of problems in my community, so I try to support people. I support people by listening to them." 

After joining us at the Winter Conference in January, Edgar decided to apply for the Institute this summer. He loves music and told us, “I see a lot of problems in my community, so I try to support people. I support people by listening to them.”

Veronica has participated in the Leadership Club at her school all year—which motivated her to apply for the Institute this summer. She plans on joining the military after she graduates, and she also loves to draw. 

Veronica has participated in the Leadership Club at her school all year—which motivated her to apply for the Institute this summer. She plans on joining the military after she graduates, and she also loves to draw.

Ariana Amelia is confident and bold, and she has big dreams for her future. Her two big goals? To become an accountant and pursue Mexican culture and folklore. We love her passion for numbers AND art—because why choose?! 

Ariana Amelia is confident and bold, and she has big dreams for her future. Her two big goals? To become an accountant and pursue Mexican culture and folklore. We love her passion for numbers AND art—because why choose?!

She dreams of studying medicine and wants to learn to play guitar. She looks up to her dad—a lifelong learner who speaks 4 languages!—and she decided to apply to the Institute after coming to the first-ever Winter Conference in January. 

She dreams of studying medicine and wants to learn to play guitar. She looks up to her dad—a lifelong learner who speaks 4 languages!—and she decided to apply to the Institute after coming to the first-ever Winter Conference in January.

Growing up, Ingrid's younger brother struggled with a physical disability. She watched him work hard to master various skills—and she decided she wanted to serve other people like him. Now she dreams of studying physical therapy! 

Growing up, Ingrid’s younger brother struggled with a physical disability. She watched him work hard to master various skills—and she decided she wanted to serve other people like him. Now she dreams of studying physical therapy!

Evelyn is an artist who wants to learn more about photography and painting. She loves animals, and she likes helping other people. She spends a lot of time caring for her three younger siblings, and best of all, she loves to laugh! 

Evelyn is an artist who wants to learn more about photography and painting. She loves animals, and she likes helping other people. She spends a lot of time caring for her three younger siblings, and best of all, she loves to laugh!

Perla blew us away with her creativity, poise, and enthusiastic spirit. She is an amazing artist and dreams of becoming an architect or an engineer. She is well-spoken and bold, and we can't wait to welcome her to the Institute! 

Perla blew us away with her creativity, poise, and enthusiastic spirit. She is an amazing artist and dreams of becoming an architect or an engineer. She is well-spoken and bold, and we can’t wait to welcome her to the Institute!

Llirio told us about her love of photography and being creative. She dreams of studying communications or public relations, and one day, she would like to lead campaigns that help protect the environment.

Llirio told us about her love of photography and being creative. She dreams of studying communications or public relations, and one day, she would like to lead campaigns that help protect the environment.

Jezer's big goals for the summer are to learn English and to learn more about his community. He likes studying Mexican history, and while he doesn't yet know what he wants to pursue as an adult, he loves learning! 

Jezer’s big goals for the summer are to learn English and to learn more about his community. He likes studying Mexican history, and while he doesn’t yet know what he wants to pursue as an adult, he loves learning!

She is an artist who dreams of becoming an architect or an engineer, and she is most excited to learn English this summer. One day, she wants to open a Casa de Cultura—a cultural center where her community can learn together. 

She is an artist who dreams of becoming an architect or an engineer, and she is most excited to learn English this summer. One day, she wants to open a Casa de Cultura—a cultural center where her community can learn together.

Braulio wants to learn to express himself this summer, and he's excited to be part of the 2019 Institute. Longer term, he has two dreams: to be a professional soccer player and to become a motorcycle mechanic. 

Braulio wants to learn to express himself this summer, and he’s excited to be part of the 2019 Institute. Longer term, he has two dreams: to be a professional soccer player and to become a motorcycle mechanic.

Jesus has a kind, friendly disposition and a soft smile. He loves food and wants to study gastronomy. And he also dreams of learning English—he said that building his language skills is one of his biggest goals of the summer. 

Jesus has a kind, friendly disposition and a soft smile. He loves food and wants to study gastronomy. And he also dreams of learning English—he said that building his language skills is one of his biggest goals of the summer.

When her big brother, Javier, participated in the Institute, Alejandra watched how he grew and changed—and she knew she wanted to be a part of the program, too. She likes art and sports, and more than anything, she wants to learn English! 

When her big brother, Javier, participated in the Institute, Alejandra watched how he grew and changed—and she knew she wanted to be a part of the program, too. She likes art and sports, and more than anything, she wants to learn English!

When he was at the Winter Conference, Emmanuel decided that he wanted to apply for the Institute. He dreams of becoming a pilot and is especially excited to learn English. Most of all, he wants to help young people in his community. 

When he was at the Winter Conference, Emmanuel decided that he wanted to apply for the Institute. He dreams of becoming a pilot and is especially excited to learn English. Most of all, he wants to help young people in his community.

Wow. What an absolutely INCREDIBLE group. We can’t wait to welcome them in just a few short weeks.

You can ignite their future right now by making a gift to support the Institute. The countdown is on—there is only ONE MONTH to go!

Seguimos Adelante!

From Student to Staff

Meet our Co-Director, Alejandro, and hear why he loves the Institute!

Ignite the future for a student like Alejandro now. Make a gift today at handsofferinghope.org/ignite!

English Translation:

I have encountered so many different perspectives. As a student, I learned a lot. I was able to learn so much, and I got out of my comfort zone. But now, as part of the staff, I’m learning about the strength of the team, how to prepare, the time you have to invest in planning, and the passion for serving that every single person on the staff has. These experiences have been unique, but they both have served me and have made me a better person. I hope people can see that I am the fruit of this good work—the Institute.

Why I love the institute

Hear from our Institute Co-Director, Sabrina, about why she loves the Institute. And support this summer’s program now at handsofferinghope.org/ignite!

English translation:

I was part of the Institute three years ago. Now I am the Director of the Institute. It’s an honor to be a part of this. The change that I have had in my life since being a part of the Institute is that I have discovered that I can achieve many things. In the same way, I know that young people like me can achieve—can get out of their comfort zones—and can achieve immense things. It’s only a question of wanting to do it.

Hello! It’s great to meet you.

We are so excited to be the new co-Directors for the Hands Offering Hope Institute this summer—it is great to meet you! (That’s us in the picture!)

Thank you for being a part of our countdown to the Institute! (Only 9 more weeks to go!)

As former students in the Institute, we know what an amazing experience it is. We learned so much during our summers there, and for the past few years, we have returned in leadership roles to help other young people from our communities. We know that this program works. We know that it creates a ripple effect that can change Mexico and the world.

We know how powerful it is because we experienced it firsthand. 

The Institute changed our lives. Now we get to help other kids change their lives, too. This opportunity is a big honor—plus it’s so much fun!

This year, we’re in charge. We’re the “jefes.” And we want to make this the best Institute summer ever!

In July, we will welcome 20 new first-year students and 9 Michael Lotito Fellows. We are busy with logistics and plans (wow, it’s a lot of work!), but it’s all worth it for these awesome students.

To make it all happen, we need your support. We need to raise $100,000 before July 14. Will you help us make this the best Institute yet?

Thank you for helping us. We can’t wait to share stories from Mexico this summer.

Muchas Gracias y Seguimos Adelante!

Alejandro Ventura and Sabrina Valerio
Institute Co-Directors

PS – Make sure you’re following Hands Offering Hope on Facebook and Instagram to hear more about our preparation for the summer. We’ll be sharing videos and updates there!

Adaly is grateful for you.

One of our Institute alums, Adaly, said something that I can’t stop thinking about.

“We are all used to studying just to work here,” she said. “Nothing changes. We’re in a square.”

“But the Institute shows us that there are things outside of that square. That’s the most important thing I have learned. How cool is it that people from all over care about us and have an interest in us?”

Friend, you are one of those people who cares.

So behalf on Adaly and all of our students, THANK YOU. 

Your generosity of time and resources matters to young leaders in Mexico. You are helping them surpass expectations, break paradigms, and redefine success, not just for themselves, but for their entire communities.

You can make a difference right now.

Make a gift to support the Institute this summer. Help another student like Adaly see the big, bold life that exists outside of her square. Give now. 

Girls like Yanelí are the future

It never gets old, friends.

Every summer as we welcome new students, I am struck by just how incredible this experience is. How honored I am to be a part of these young leaders’ lives. And how grateful I am to each of you for making it all possible.

When I meet girls like Yanelí, I remember that we have a big, bright future ahead of us.

Yanelí attended our Winter Conference this January with several of her friends from San Angel. She sat quietly in our sessions, taking it all in—and she was inspired.

At the end of the weekend, she shared, “I am learning that I can go after what I want. And that I can get back up and keep going when things go wrong.”

“This conference changed my thinking,” she said. “I learned about my dreams. For the first time, I learned that I can be what I want to be.”

It’s a freedom and a confidence that many girls in Mexico struggle to find. And one that we are proud to help instill in our female students, especially this month as we celebrate women and girls around the world.

Now, Yanelí wants to apply for the Institute. She wants to keep learning and growing. And we want to help her achieve her goals.

Give now to support girls like Yanelí.

Fund programs that are transforming the lives of young leaders and giving them the boldness to chase their dreams.

Julissa inspires me.

Julissa talks a million miles a minute and has a permanent smile on her face. But her life has not always been easy.

When she talks about her community, she says, “Our neighborhood is super closed-minded. No one is growing. No one believes in us. People don’t think about doing new things.”

But Julissa refused to let her circumstances define her, so last summer, she joined the Institute.

“It was an unforgettable experience for me,” she says. “At the beginning, I couldn’t talk to anyone. Now I’m different. I like participating. I can make new friends. Before I didn’t think I was anything—now I can dream things for my future. The Institute made me a better person.” 

She loves that her involvement with the Institute doesn’t need to end.

In her words, “I have a million things I love, but now I need to figure out what I want to study. That’s why I want to come back for a second year—so I can learn more and help more people.” 

While her career path has yet to be defined, Julissa’s plan is clear: “I want to do something great so that I can be an example for others.”

She knows that her life—and her community—isn’t easy, but she has one big vision in mind:

“I want people to see me and say, ‘If she can do it, so can I.'” 

Friend, you can support girls like Julissa right now. This International Women’s Day, change the life of an incredible young leader in Mexico.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are sharing the incredible stories of female students with you all month long. We invite you to celebrate IWD with us and support special programming designed to address the unique challenges these girls face. Empower young women now at handsofferinghope.org/donate