The general objective of the Youth Formation and Scholarship Program is:

To ensure that economically disadvantaged youth from organized communities have access to a formal education (High School and University) and reach a level of social awareness in order to contribute to the development and transformation of their communities and El Salvador.

History & Context:

*In 1996, CIS began a program to support grassroots organizing.   The communities the CIS worked with told us that they had a strong commitment to social justice and human rights, but they could not put food on the table.   The CIS reflected with the communities and our international solidarity partners and proposed the ideas of the Youth Formation and Scholarship Program, as well as the Women’s Small Businesses Program. These programs were to be tools for empowering local communities to be protagonists in their own development.

*The first CIS supported scholarship program began in Cinquera, Cabañas in 1997. The program paid the transportation costs for youth to go to junior high and high school in neighboring municipalities.  Solidarity partners and the CIS were moved by the story of Antonio Alvarenga, a young man from Cinquera. As a young man he had had no other option but to go off to war, despite suffering from physical ailments.   When the war ended, Antonio wanted to realize his dream of studying to become a doctor. However, he was told there was no money and he had to go to the fields and perform heavy physical labor. As a result, Antonio took his own life.  Subsequently, a scholarship fund was set up in his name so that no other youth would be prevented from studying due to a lack of funds. In Cinquera, no one went to high school before or during the war. A high school did not even exist in Cinquera until 2012. As of 2011, 23 students have graduated from University.

In 2001, after two devastating earthquakes, the CIS received donations for emergency aid, organizing, and development.  The CIS was looking to invest small donations in projects that would have a long-term impact, instead of simply giving hand-outs to resolve immediate needs. When the CIS visited the municipality of Estanzuelas, Usulután to discuss ideas for investing a small donation, the mayor told the CIS he did not want rice and beans. He insisted that such a donation would only meet peoples’ needs for a few days. He asked if the donation could be invested in education so that the communities could begin to solve their own problems. Thus began the second program.

*With a great deal of support from Father Jerry Waris, the CIS has been able to develop 12 international solidarity partnerships that support the Program. International solidarity partners are organizations, institutions, and foundations that are matched to a sister community. They work hand-in-hand to provide educational opportunities and contribute to local development. The CIS works with at least five additional communities who have an organizational base, economic need, and a commitment to youth formation. However, they are in need of long-term partners in order to transform their communities. *Link how to get involved*


Scholarship  programs 2016

Thank you solidarity partners!!!


High school

Cinquera, ARDM




Comunidad Ellacuría, Chalatenango

Notre Dame Prep School, MD








Assumption Church, Granger, IA



San Rafael Cedros

Our Lady of Presentation, KC, MO




Corpus Christi University Parish, Toledo, OH

Resurrection Church, Solon, OH



San Pedro Perulapán

Foundation for Cultural Exchange, CO



San Pablo Tacachico – ADEMGUAPE

Pasadena Committee, CA



Romero Community, Tonacatepeque




Isla El Espíritu Santo, Puerto El Triunfo

Rainbow of Hope for Children, Canada



San Francisco de Asís Parish, Mejicanos




San José Palo Grande, Suchitoto




Isla Tasajera, San Luis la Herradura

First Congregational United Church of Christ, Eugene,  OR



Artisans– Jaragua, Las Tinecas

REVY Fair Trade, OH



Tehuiste, San Pedro Nonualco

Caminos de Accion, WY



Llano Largo, Jutiapa

CIS scholarship fund



San Isidro

CIS Scholarship Fund



At Large- San Juan Opico, LL; El Congo, SA

PeaceHealth, and CIS scholarship fund



ASPIDH Association

CIS Scholarship Fund







*Note – where the CIS scholarship Fund is listed as the Partner, there is no ongoing partnership and we would like to find organizations, churches, foundations, academic institutions, to create ongoing support and sister relationship. 

*Note – where the CIS scholarship Fund is listed as the Partner, there is no ongoing partnership and we would like to find organizations, churches, foundations, academic institutions, to create ongoing support and sister relationship. 

How the Formation and Scholarship Program Works

Guacotecti---Lisandra-now-working-at-MOPThe CIS Formation and Scholarship Program supports marginalized youth in their struggle to get an education and contribute to human development.  The program takes place in various different communities and supports groups ranging in size from 5 to 65 high school and university students, all of which are managed by a local committee.  In addition, the CIS has grassroots organizers that coordinate work between the different communities, the CIS and the international solidarity partners.  The grassroots organizers also organize a yearly retreat where students from each program share their experiences and learn from each other.

The Local Salvadoran Committee

One of the unique features of our program is that in each community there is a local scholarship committee.  They meet to supervise the community service projects, work on formation activities, visit each of the student’s homes, and resolve other issues.  It is also their responsibility to choose the scholarship recipients based on the following criteria:

  1. Economic need
  2. Commitment to social change
  3. Requirement of at least 50% female participation in each program
  4. Grades (for University scholarships)
  5. Become a partner Organization

International Solidarity Partner Committee

Each community has at least one long term international solidarity partner organization, institution, church or foundation.  All international solidarity partner organizations set a scholarship goal and raise funds.  These groups are a very important part of the communications between students, donors, and the CIS.  Ideally, the committee organizes a yearly delegation for the organization’s participants to visit El Salvador and learn more about the reality and they ways in which, together with the students, they are contributing to human development.


Comasagua---Roberto---scholarship-student-By participating in the CIS Formation and Scholarship Program, students not only receive a formal education, but also develop critical thinking and leadership skills.  In addition, they have the opportunity to learn about subjects not included in normal school curriculums.  One of our objectives is to encourage youth to give back to their communities by using their education for development and social transformation within El Salvador.  An Integral part of the Program is raising the youth’s awareness of a variety of social issues.  Students participate in workshops on gender relations, conflict resolution, human rights, the environment and analysis of Salvadoran reality, among other topics.

Community Service

Each student is required to do a yearly community service project.  Through these projects, students put into practice what they are learning, develop leadership skills, contribute to local development and learn to value the knowledge in their communities.  As a part of their formation, the students in San Rafael Cedros have participated in workshops and training in sustainability, food sovereignty and the environment.  When it came time to plan their community service projects, the students decided to create a community garden.  In other communities, students chose to contribute to CIS projects like their town Clean Water Committee or a local women’s business.  Others create original projects such as teaching the history of El Salvador, offering computer classes and much more. 

How to get involved:

Make a long-term commitment with your organization (church, community, group, foundation, etc.) to support a scholarship program.  We have communities with economic need that are organized, but who are lacking in an international solidarity partner.  You could start a program supporting as few as five students.

  1. Contribute to Scholarships in an Existing Program

You could open another spot in an existing program.  Make a commitment to contribute to a scholarship for a high school or university student.  For high school it is a three year commitment of $300.00/year.  For University, it is a six year commitment of $1200.00/year.  Amounts may vary according to each local program

  1. Contribute to the Grassroots Organizing Fund

The Formation and Scholarship Program is a success due in large part to our grassroots organizers who work in the communities.  They are the essential link among the local scholarship committees, the students, the CIS, and the international solidarity partners.  By contributing to this fund, you would help us pay their organizing expenses, salaries, health care and other benefits.

  1. Contribute to the Annual Scholarship Student Forum.

Each year we host a retreat with the scholarship recipients from all over the country.  Here they share their experiences and learn from one another.  By contributing to this fund you would help us pay for the students’ and organizers’ lodging, transportation, food and materials.

Tax deductible donations can be made to:
Los Olivos CIS
PO Box 76
Westmount, IL 60559, USA

Or click here to donate with a credit card on our website:

Students’ Testimonials

“The program has meant so much to me.  I had the opportunity to be able to study a university degree.  For me this was an impossible dream until I was selected for the Scholarship Program.  Through the Program, I was able to learn, develop and form a world view with a social conscience.  I think the course of study that I chose [Social Work] was the best for me, because it is a humanitarian degree that allows me to be close to the people”.   -Eduardo, University Scholarship Graduate, Cinquera, Cabañas

“Thanks to the CIS Formation and Scholarship Program I am studying accounting at the National University.  Through my involvement in the CIS and my studies, I have been able to take advantage of many opportunities to support my community.  Some of the service projects I am involved in include: a study group for children who are behind in school, literacy classes for adult women, the Round Table on Violence Prevention in Tonacatepeque, and I am supporting the formation of a women’s cooperative in our town.  These projects have helped me, as well as other youth, to contribute to a betterment of our community.  Thanks to the Program, in addition to studying, I have obtained many new skills.  My leadership has allowed me to build trust with my neighbors and I was even elected community president”.         -Carmen, University Scholarship Student, Romero Community, Tonacatepeque

Partners’ Experiences

“The contributing group has grown, and now several of us have visited San Pablo Tacachico.  Seeing the needs and meeting with the students and their families, we have increased our financial support.  In addition, because we have learned so much from our visits to El Salvador and San Pablo Tacachico, we have been able to deepen our understanding of and educate our community about the inequality and injustice cause by neo-conservative economic policies and international agreements”.    -Pasadena/El Salvador Committee

“I have learned through the appreciation of the recipients of scholarships just how important an education is for life’s success.  Previous to my experience in El Salvador, I just took for granted the value of an education.  We know that his is truly a gift for life and we are so pleased to help provide this gift to so many deserving young women and men”.       - Father Gerald Waris