Upping its Game as Always

Upping its Game as Always

By Don Krim


Jóvenes Adelante’s students challenge themselves to radically change the course of their lives in modern day Mexico. Drawing inspiration from them in changing times, JA radically changed how we selected students this year, and to large degree whom we select. Having just completed a careful review of this new “intake,” we are thrilled with its radical successes.


Using social media to amplify our invitation to apply, JA doubled its volume of qualified applicants to 550, reaching 62 rural and poor communities. We handled the higher volume through careful vetting in a six-stage process. At the final interview stages, we changed our reliance on ad hoc teams of volunteers in favor of using our own staff, board, and board advisors. The in-house team received intensive training and co-created a carefully refined student profile for success.


A critical element of this new profile is that students must be first generation university students. This translates into a demonstrable increase of socio-economic mobility for both student and family. Continued sustainable growth, regardless of past success, requires constant re-evaluation and a striving for improvement in changing conditions. JA’s newly defined entry profile provides a roadmap for our success building programming, leading to an ideal JA exit profile of graduates better prepared for grown up life and entering the workforce. Our data points are student feedback and academic research data on thousands of university students nationwide, that combines employer data and graduate exit surveys a couple of years after graduation.


The result is a new JA core curriculum of essential life skills. With twin goals to standardize and professionalize the core for all JA classes, and to build internal capacity, JA has identified an organization that already does this better than we can. JA has financially committed to pilot this outsourcing. Assuming the new partnership works when we finalize details, JA will outsource 24 hours of structured, live, online offerings already built and tested, covering six core areas that JA pre-identified as critical for success–core areas embedded in JA’s student profile.


One aspect of the environment that remains stubbornly unchanged at 42 percent is the local high school graduation rate. JA launched a Preparatory (High School) pilot program in 2020 with the goal of helping to improve that graduation rate with JA’s unique offerings. Despite a 100 percent success in a COVID year, before proceeding with version 2.0, JA entered discussions with Mujeres en Cambio, Don Diego Foundation, and the Secretary of Education in Guanajuato. We compiled substantial data on rural school networks and comparative performance data between rural and city schools.


After months of research, the JA Prepa pilot 2.0 will likely target rural schools serving multiple communities; avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest or favoritism between school officials and students; and require 2.0 graduates to compete head to head with future JA applicants. 


Jovenes Adelante maintains the most robust, multi-dimensional university support program in Mexico. To sponsor a 2022 student, contact donkrim@jovenesadelante.org.