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COVID Response: How One Corporate Partner Enabled Targeted Action in Latin America

Posted 23 June 2022 in EMpower News, Grantee Partner News   |   Share

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It was December 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was continuing to wreak havoc, and Latin America was one of the hardest-hit regions. At this critical time, EMpower supporter VR Cares stepped in and enabled us to provide resources and relief to our grantee partners. Through their contribution of $50,000 to EMpower, we were able to meet the needs of almost 1,000 young people and more than 3,000 family members across the region.  

Addressing short-term survival needs  

Recognising the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on young people's health, economic wellbeing, and learning across Latin America, EMpower awarded $5,000 emergency grants to grantee partners based in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.  

These local organisations leveraged their existing relationships with young people in their communities to provide much-needed frontline support to the families that needed it most, including: food, hygiene products (such as soap and hand sanitiser), and cleaning supplies.

Because young people’s access to reliable internet and smart devices was disrupted and uneven, many were forced to miss school and learning. With EMpower and VR Cares support, our grantee partners were able to lessen the digital divide. For example, Pukllasunchis in Peru provided young people with internet credits so they could download and use apps like Google Meet and Zoom to participate in online schooling and learning. Nordelta in Argentina purchased tablets for secondary school students to continue their studies and access academic support.

Addressing more medium-term needs to gain income

VR Care’s support also helped EMPUJAR, an EMpower partner in Argentina, to develop and pilot a new vocational training programme focused on digital marketing—a growing sector in the region—with a group of marginalised young people in Buenos Aires.  

The programme, called "Emplear + Empujar" (meaning "To Employ and To Push"), included over 300 hours of training for 32 young people in technical, soft, and employability skills, as well as psychosocial support, mentoring, and job placement services. Four months after training, eight (50% of the goal of 16) participants had secured jobs related to digital marketing. EMPUJAR continues to provide job placement support to all programme graduates and is confident that at least 50% of them will find employment in the formal sector.  

Programme graduate Ana Pereyra shared what the opportunity meant to her: "My sincere gratitude to EMPUJAR for the opportunity, the support, the love, the care, and for believing in us...I am proud and happy to have been part of this wonderful experience. It is not the end, it is the beginning of big opportunities, where young people will be the protagonists of big positive social change " 

This investment has been catalytical and will continue to bear fruits, as it has encouraged EMPUJAR to adopt this initiative of training and job placement support in the software sector as part of its regular employability programme. 

We are grateful for VR Cares and other supporters, whose funding during the uncertainties posed by a relentless pandemic made all the difference. As a result, our grantee partners were able to continue to reach young people, creating lasting impacting on their lives.  

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