How We Got Started
The programs in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, now supported by Esperanca was founded in 2016 by Kathleen Duncan. During more than 20 years vacationing in Puerto Penasco with her husband and two sons, Kathleen was heartbroken to discover that a lack of resources was forcing the parents of young people throughout this community to choose between sending their children to school and meeting their basic needs. Kathleen knew that, without access to education, most of these kids would remain trapped in the cycle of poverty. She became determined to one day do something to help.
In 2012, with her two sons off in college and their family farming business thriving, Kathleen decided to make a long-term commitment to helping kids living in poverty in Puerto Penasco. She spent the next three years traveling back and forth from her home in AZ to spend three days each week volunteering at a local children’s shelter. During that time, she learned to speak the language, gained the trust of people in the community, and began to understand more clearly how lack of access to education was keeping many local kids trapped in the cycle of poverty.
In 2015 Kathleen formed a Mexican non-profit called ‘Asistencia Integral para Menores de Puerto Penasco’ (AIM Penasco) now referred to as Educarte AIM Mexico. That same year she became the leader of a U.S. non-profit called Steps of Love whose primary mission became supporting her program in Puerto Penasco. In 2016, she hired a small team of local professionals and together they launched a program to provide kids living in poverty with the long-term, consistent support they would need to go to school and thrive inside and outside the classroom. That first year the program was funded primarily by Kathleen and her husband and it supported 72 students from kindergarten through high school. Thanks to Steps of Love’s many generous supporters, Educarte AIM Mexico now employs more than 15 professionals to support more than 600 students and operates seven homework clubs throughout the community.
As of October 2021, Steps of Love is merged into Esperanҫa, a global health organization with over 50 years experience working with international partners and based in Phoenix. In partnership with Kathleen and the Steps of Love donors, Esperanҫa will continue to support Educarte AIM Penasco so that it can continue its invaluable work in Mexico.