AT THE foot of Huentit�n Canyon in an impoverished community outside Guadalajara, Mexico, La Barranca Elementary School is a beacon of hope. Several of its 240 students have earned medals at national judo championships, others have won academic competitions, and all have the benefit of a nontraditional curriculum. Such achievements would not have been possible without two-time LPGA Player of the Year Lorena Ochoa (right, with a La Barranca student). Two years ago Ochoa, a Guadalajara native, was captivated by the La Barranca kids she met at a charity golf tournament. Since then she has given generously to the all-scholarship school, which provides students with two meals a day in addition to opportunities to explore theater, art and athletics.
Earlier this year Ochoa's foundation took full control of La Barranca; it has developed plans to construct a high school in 2008. "Golf has allowed me to help all these children," says Ochoa, 26, who has earned $10.4 million on the LPGA tour. "They have so little, and a good education is what they need the most in order to succeed." Her long-term goal: to develop schools like La Barranca across Mexico. She has already improved the lives of children such as eight-year-old �rika Ruiz Hern�ndez, who wants be a teacher. "I'm learning so much more at this school than my last one," she says. "And thanks to Lorena, we all get to eat breakfast every morning."