Proyecto Vimenti, Puerto Rico’s first public charter school, was founded to change the trajectory of students and families in one of the island’s most economically depressed and isolated communities. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR) has been serving young people inside the Ramos Antonini Public Housing project for 50 years—operating an afterschool program focusing on education, health, life skills, leadership development, and arts. They serve 350 children and youth annually.
After decades of work with local youth, BGCPR leaders realized that the community’s families were locked into intergenerational cycles of poverty that made it nearly impossible for the young people they served to achieve upward mobility. They became convinced that they had to take a radically different approach implementing a two-generation model that includes opening a school and related services as interlocking pieces that would tackle education and poverty and provide opportunity for young and their families.
Vimenti is authorized and overseen by Puerto Rico’s Department of Education under Act 85, the education reform bill passed in March 2018 as an Alliance (charter) School. These three papers document lessons about finance and operations, professional development, and student support from the first year and a half of Proyecto Vimenti’s start-up phase. The goal is to inform the next phase of work and to help other Puerto Ricans consider the implications for other Alliance and Department of Education-run public schools. The authors conducted structured interviews with more than 20 members of the Vimenti community, including parents, teachers, administrators, board members, consultants, funders, and officials from the Puerto Rico Department of Education.