Blanca Rosa Castañón
This profile was prepared when Blanca Rosa Castañón was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of institutions responsible for monitoring and caring for Oaxacan street youth, Blanca Castañon founded the Street Children Support Center of Oaxaca in 1992. The Center provides education and specialized services–including nutrition, health, recreation and economic assistance –to the two primary groups of Oaxacan street children, namely, those who work in the streets and those who actually live there. With low administrative overhead and a cost per child of only $705 per year, the Center provides cost-effective services to some of Oaxaca's most vulnerable youth. Its success is the base from which Blanca has launched her next step.Blanca is extending exemplary management practices developed at the Center to the new Forum of Civil Organizations of Oaxaca (FOCO), the first organizational body that involves all civil organizations in the state of Oaxaca. FOCO, which means "focus," is a network of over 70 social assistance and social development groups which exchange information about their programs and experiences within the citizen sector. Blanca has utilized the FOCO framework to institute a level of accountability and discipline that is rare among service organizations: it will strengthen both the members who work specifically with children and youth, as well as a wide range of other human service organizations.