Our story

Publication Date: November 30, 2022


Estefany Roldan and Liliana Arroyave

Founders of Impact-U


In Colombia, numerous communities with scarce economic resources live in remote regions with difficult access to essential services.  Most people in those communities work in agriculture or have informal jobs that generate low incomes and often partially cover their basic needs.  


Frequently, a member of these families dreams of going to college, among other things, to change the reality of their community.  Through discipline and dedication, they gain admission to a public university that they can afford but generally only offers a limited number of seats given the high demand.  And here is where their struggle begins.  They must survive in a city that is not their own, with little or no economic support, no secured income, and limited job prospects in a country where the unemployment rate exceeds 14%.  They also have to deal with the distress of leaving their family behind, experiencing the same or even greater needs as before and now without their family support at home.


In November 2019, as a cold winter began in Boston, Massachusetts, we sat down to watch a sunset.  We talked about how a college degree gave us so many opportunities and allowed us to do many things that ultimately transformed our lives in various ways.  We are both a product of public universities and had the chance to embrace the diversity that permeates anyone who experiences quality public education.  That day we nostalgically remembered the stories of many classmates who came from vulnerable and remote areas.  People with brilliant minds and promising futures who one day simply dropped out because their families did not have the economic possibility of continuing to support their children’s projects far from home.  We also saw others who succeeded and were able to transform the lives of their families and, therefore, transform society.


We saw with our own eyes the face of inequality and social contrasts in our country, where some students can buy the most expensive textbooks on the market to support their academic processes.  In contrast, others must walk long distances to get to class because even public transportation is outside their reach.  That day we promised to create an education project that would transform the lives of students and their families who were going through extreme and constant needs.


We decided to start by thoroughly understanding the status of academic completion in Colombian universities.  An extensive search for information on this matter showed us a painful reality.  By 2019, almost half of the students who secured a place in public universities in the country dropped out due to primarily economic reasons. 


By then, the pandemic was already a reality, and the needs of those affected by inequality in Colombia had grown exponentially.  Many questioned why this union of forces was not aimed at helping feed families in these problematic situations or providing gifts to children in vulnerable communities to keep their hopes alive during the upcoming Christmas season.  We had only one answer to these questions: these aid efforts are essential and lovely but would not transform an individual or their family.


We began to understand that the best way to establish this project would be to join forces with people who understood or witnessed the transformative power of education.  Building a solid team based on solidarity was difficult, but seeing our country lacking opportunities for the most vulnerable was difficult.  That force moved us to start, strengthen, and maintain our project.


This dream that today is Impact-U began in the minds, hearts, and souls of two women who understand that education is not the only path to a quality life and social justice, but it is one of the paths that, for some, the less privileged, is filled with obstacles, hostility, and turbulence.


Today, more than 30 volunteers work with us with commitment, creativity, dedication, and much love for this cause.  They have been permeated with the excitement generated by seeing a young person born in complex economic conditions attend college and return home confident that a better future awaits them and all their loved ones.


And so it was that we managed to have a multidisciplinary team that allowed us to offer financial and comprehensive support to our beneficiaries.  We make sure they feel like they are part of a family that, even though we are far from their own families, is there for them in everything that comes their way as they pursue their professional dreams.


We continue to stand firm, grow, and build this dream with everyone who believes in education as a tool for empowerment and equality.  We hope that with the help of those who wish to join us every day, we can create an endless chain of solidarity in this cause, which is the cause of an entire country.

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