It All Began With a Pair of Shoes

“Very simply, it began with a pair of shoes,“ Virginia Wheelwrigh said with a non-nonsense smile. She was explaining how Jóvenes Adelante got started twenty years ago.

“A local boy had received a scholarship to a local university, but he had no shoes. Well, he wasn’t going to go to college without shoes! So, my friend Helen Morris took him down to the shoe store where the boy knew exactly what pair he wanted. They were the most expensive pair and they were a half-size too small, but that’s what he wanted so that’s what he got.”

“Helen and the boy became close, “Virginia continued, “and she sent him to live with her son in Texas for two summers to learn English. She missed him when he was gone; he was calling her Grandma by then. He completed university here in San Miguel, and then Helen helped him get a Fulbright to Southern Methodist University, where he earned an MBA.

His success impressed Helen’s friends. “Our small group of friends, fewer than ten of us, saw this boy succeed and said, well! If Helen can do this for one young person, imagine what we can do for others if we work together! We were inspired, and started fundraising with enthusiasm and determination,» Virginia Said. 


Founders envision an organization in which scholarships are given along with other essential support… Jóvenes Adelante founded as a community-based organization in San Miguel de Allende

Our first student graduates.

  • JA received Asociacion Civil nonprofit status status in Mexico.
  • JA adds mentorship program.

JA becomes a USA nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization providing tax deductability for USA donors. 

  • JA becomes a project of Amistad Canada, providing tax deductability for Canadian donors. Amistad is JA’s most important sponsorship partner.
  • JA received CLIE status i to be able to apply for Guanajuato state grants.
  • Brandeis University study cites JA’s graduation success rate, highlighting our mentorship program as critically setting us apart.
  • JA becomes an donataria autorizada, providing tax deductability for mexican donors.

Angie Argüelles becomes JA’s first paid executive director.

  • JA’s first congress.
  • Doubled the number of scholarship applicants