Eight students will graduate from college this year, and another 19 undergraduates along with three graduate students will enroll thanks to the support of the PCAFPD and its generous donors like you. Re-porting those numbers is a highlight of serving as the PCAFPD’s President. Twenty-two new scholars is easily our biggest class yet. Read on to learn why we were able to take on more scholars than usual, but please pause for a moment to reflect on the good your donations are doing.
Your generosity and new policies by the Filipino government led to the rise in scholars. First, the past few years have seen smaller than normal classes be-cause the country added middle school grades 7 and 8 to make it a K-12 system. The move led to fewer high school graduates. Second, the Philippines has implemented free tuition at public universities. On the surface, this news may make the PCAFPD’s work sound redundant, but there are important considerations. While the government’s investment in its students reduces our costs, some of our scholars at-tend private universities where the free tuition has no effect. In addition, there is a lot more to college expenses than tuition. Through a contribution to living expenses, fees, uniforms, and other costs, the PCAFPD provides an average of $350 per year to each scholar beyond tuition costs. These expenses did not disappear with free tuition and are often an insurmountable hurdle to attending school when a family’s annual income is less than $1,000, as is the case for the majority of our scholars.
On top of accepting more undergraduate scholars, we have expanded our funding of graduate students. For the first time, we accepted students we did not support through their undergraduate studies. Thus, we will have six student scholars pursuing master’s degrees on top of 47 undergrads during the 2019-2020 school year.
As we look ahead, the 2019 goal is to increase the number of donors, especially among those RPCVs that served since 2000. Last year, we received over $69,000 and are happy to have only spent 10.5% on administrative costs (mostly printing & mailing). To strengthen the foundation for the future, we have added several new board members who served in the last 10 years. Now, we need to start growing the number of donors among recent RPCVs. We will be more active on Facebook and Instagram, expect to hold events in D.C. and possibly other cities, and one donor has offered to match with $10 any gift made by a PCV that closed service last year or this year. You can help too by nudging your RPCV friends to give. All in, we can help a student graduate college for less than $5,000. Hence, many small gifts can go a long way in changing lives.
Thanks to a Hong Kong business trip, I was able to swing through Manila on May 4 and meet with the Ituloy team. They are working as hard as ever to help our scholars succeed. In April, they went live with the Oracle Netsuite software you read about in the last Balitaan. They are still working to get all eight members fully trained on it; the progress is encouraging, and the software will save them time in the long run. With the exception of long-time board member and VP for Philippines Operations, Roland De Jesus, all the Ituloy team members are scholars we put through college. Their commitment to the foundation and helping more students attend college is absolute, even to the point of refusing reimbursement for cell phone load used and other small expenses. It is impossible to not be impressed and inspired by the team members.
On the board front, Ron Peters stepped down from the board after years of invaluable service, most notably reviewing and prepping all applications before our annual selection meeting. We cannot thank him enough for all he has done for the foundation and our scholars. We are very happy to report that Blake Van Fleteren was elected to the board in April. Blake served in Negros Occidental from 2010-2012. It’s great to have Blake and his energy helping out. He has taken over the webmaster role and is helping in-crease our social media presence. Look for more scholar pictures and videos of our graduates soon.
Written by Paul Aleckson, PCAFPD President
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