H. Berger, D. Benson

Houston Preparatory Academy (UNITED STATES)
In a post-colonial world characterized by super-mobility and extreme, dynamic demographic shift, educational opportunity, socioeconomic possibility and sustained development have to be created and provided to prevent the necessity for emigration from the nations of origin and to address immigration issues confronting new residents in their new nations of choice. This necessary concomitance is blatantly evident in the entire western world especially in the U.S. and Mexico.
For fifteen years, U-Prep, a well-proven, highly cross-culturally adaptable and applicable educational model, has served immigrant and marginalized students in Houston, Texas, USA, and, for the past five years, the model has been replicated and effectively implemented in Guerrero, Mexico, the area of origin of over 73,000 persons who migrate to the U.S. annually. More than 950,000 Guerrerenses reside in the U.S.

U-Prep develops educational opportunities for children and families who experience the social injustice and violence of poverty in the U.S., while it provides educational and social work services to students and families in Mexico where the violence of poverty is increasingly compounded by the organized ultra-violence of powerful criminal cartels. Since 2007, over 47,500 persons have died in the U.S./Mexican war zone. Acapulco, Guerrero, U-Prep’s target area, has been found to be the second-most violent city in Mexico and due to this situation of steadily increasing danger, most U.S. universities and NGO’s have discontinued operations. U-Prep continues its struggle and uses its experience and data collected from students, families, interns and educators in the U.S. and Mexico which have been analyzed with an arsenal of qualitative and quantitative methods to inform its strategies, tactics, direction, changes and practice. U-Prep makes on-going and on-the-go programmatic adaptations and adjustments such as peer interns and teachers; existing technology (e-mail, texting, Skype, webinars); other adaptive educational technologies that take into account learner participation and performance to maximize achievement (Flipped Learning).

U-Prep’s comparative practice and research indicates that despite the tensions of ever-present violence, students attain even higher levels of and needs for academic and social achievement. The anecdotal, attitudinal and statistical data also reveal improved readiness for and expectation of higher education. Students and families exhibit greater hope and improved techniques for surviving the mental and physical violence of their social circumstance and condition. Families tend to unite and rally behind the common cause of providing brighter and safer futures for their children. Therefore, despite under-serving educational systems, wide-spread corruption, and constantly intensifying violence, U-Prep bridges the disciplines of sociology, education and social work to provide a dynamic, comprehensive, community-based, culturally competent, child-centered educational model and program that continues to enhance educational opportunities and supporting social services for students and families in the U.S. and Mexico to create an educated and aware vanguard of agents of future social change.