SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Assisted by tutors who act as both companions and mentors, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico has elevated its traditional after-school homework assistance. “We’ve added art, STEM opportunities plus English and math,” says the organization’s President, Olga Ramos. “Our main objective at the Boys and Girls Clubs is to make sure that we change the conditions of the kids and youths that we serve. When you have 90 percent of your participants that are under levels of poverty that raises questions of is it only education,” Ramos adds in this interview with Beet.TV conducted on the island.

The impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017 on the media community in Puerto Rico will be addressed during a special session at Beet Retreat 2018 from Nov. 28-30. At the session’s conclusion, Ramos will present data on the impact of the storm on the island’s youth and her organizations’ efforts to improve their livelihoods.

According to Ramos, tutors are a critical component of helping kids through the school process so they gain future potential.

“We want to make sure that they’re able to insert in the work force. Once they’re done with high school, we want to get them to college. We want those that are not wanting to go to college to have a job as well. The tutors have been that companionship for our kids. That mentor.”

Tutoring goes well beyond assisting young people with homework, Ramos explains. “Many of our kids do not have that father figure. At times they don’t even have the mother figure. Some of our kids are growing with their grandparents. So our tutors have become that person that guides them through the educational path.”

BGCPR’s previous after-school efforts had been more general in nature. “We did assistance with homework. We were more focused in Spanish,” Ramos says. “We have worked to elevate our offer in order to make sure that they’re more prepared to be successful in school. In Puerto Rico, most of our schools are not up to par with what kids need.”

At Beet Retreat 2018, the following executives will participate in a session devoted to the impact of Hurricane Maria: Freddie Hernandez, General Manager, Procter & Gamble, Puerto Rico’ Melissa Burgos, Marketing Director USVI/Puerto Rico, AT&T Mobility; Jose Cancela, President, Telemundo/NBCUniversal Puerto Rico; and Andres Claudio, General Manager, Hearts & Science, Puerto Rico.

The session will be moderated by Phil Cowdell, President of Client Services at GroupM, who has been deeply involved with Puerto Rico relief and recovery. In June of 2018, Cowdell and Ramos discussed the challenges posed by Hurricane Maria and BGCPR’s response on behalf of its youthful beneficiaries.