Fulfilling a Dream 2024: A Celebration of Education and Empowerment

Leanne SierraBlog, Fulfilling A Dream, Impact Trips, Special Event, Student Spotlight Leave a Comment

Nicolás Fund For Education’s Fulfilling a Dream 2024 fundraisers were a resounding success, bringing together educational supporters, donors, and community members to celebrate the transformative power of education. The events, held at Peninsula Lutheran Church in Gig Harbor on May 2, 2024 and Encounter Church in Mercer Island, WA, on May 3, 2024, showcased the inspiring mission behind Nicolás Fund For Education and the remarkable strides made together. Unveiling the Mission and Impact Ivan España, our passionate and dedicated National Director, shared the inspiring mission of Nicolás Fund For Education and the remarkable achievements made possible through the support of our generous donors. Guests were moved by the powerful stories of students whose lives have been dramatically changed. They heard their firsthand testimonials that vividly showcased how contributions fuel dreams and unlock endless potential. Firsthand Experiences from Mission Trip Members Mission Trip Members Susan Shamblin, Andrew Metz, and Gabi Beckman shared inspiring stories of their NFE mission trips, during which they had the life-changing opportunity to impact the lives of marginalized youth in the Ixil region of Guatemala. They witnessed firsthand how NFE is breaking the cycle of poverty and injustice through faith and education. The Birth of Nicolás Fund for Education Becci Merritt, NFE Board President, shared how Nicolás Fund for Education came to be – a journey of enduring love, transformation, and shared belief in the power of prayer and education to overcome poverty. Twelve years ago, Becci Merritt, Al Lopus, Joan Selvig, Kathy Riper, and Lolo Levy began their mission with hearts that saw a place where chronic grinding poverty and discrimination have a firm stronghold. Becci outlined their 12-year journey from junior and senior high school …

Helping People, Changing Lives: 3 Health Benefits of Volunteering

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Volunteers make an immeasurable difference in people’s lives and often serve to help others. Did you know that volunteering can benefit your health as well? Research has shown that volunteering offers significant health benefits, especially for older adults, including: 1. Improves physical and mental health. 2. Provides a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills. 3. Nurture new and existing relationships. (Excerpted from Angela Thoreson, M.S.W.’s 8-1-23 article in Mayo Clinic Health System’s newsletter.) Get Involved: Become an NFE Volunteer Nicolás Fund For Education is on a mission to empower Mayan youth in the Ixil region of Guatemala to break free from generational poverty through Christ-centered education. We’re looking for passionate, dedicated volunteers to join our cause and make a real difference in the lives of these students. Whether you’re a skilled grant writer, a social media savant, or an experienced educator, we have a variety of roles where your unique talents can shine. From helping with fundraising events to providing virtual tutoring via WhatsApp, you can contribute to our mission in many ways. If you’re ready to be part of something bigger than yourself and impact the future of Mayan youth in Guatemala, we invite you to explore our volunteer opportunities and apply today. Together, we can empower the next generation to dream big and achieve their full potential. We are currently seeking volunteers for the following roles:

A Journey of Grace, Hope, and Faith: My Experience in Guatemala

Sheri HustedBlog, Impact Trips Leave a Comment

Greetings! My name is Sheri, and I am delighted to share an extraordinary experience I had in Guatemala this past February with the Nicolás Fund For Education’s Mission Team. This journey with Peninsula Lutheran Church members was a testament to the power of grace, hope, and faith. A Royal Welcome Upon our arrival at Nicolás school, we were greeted as if we were royalty. The eldest grade students escorted us to breakfast on our first day, where we were treated to a wonderful meal. Immediately following, the students prepared an assembly based on scripture and infused it with local culture. The grace these students exhibited, even as we were there to learn, help, and observe, was truly overwhelming. Classrooms Filled with Love and Respect We were welcomed into the classrooms, witnessing the daily practice of scripture reading and hymn singing. The teachers and students invited us to pray with them and for them. The teachers’ sense of love and grace for the students was palpable, and in return, I could feel immense respect from the students toward their teachers. The principal and teachers knew each student by name, and every student seemed comfortable asking for prayer or discussing their struggles. Hope and Faith: The Foundation of Education Each student radiated a level of hope – within us, their school, and the teachers before them. It was evident that this school is rooted in faith, as every morning began with hymns, Bible readings led by the teachers, and prayer. Watching these children light up as our team introduced them to new subject matter was an amazing experience. Through faith and determination, they realized they could achieve great things and reach their …

Honoring the Legacy of Bill Safström Visionary Educator and Beloved Friend

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nicolás Fund for Education’s Vice-President and Chair of the Education Committee, Bill Safström, on February 25, 2024 from a brief neurological illness. Bill died of  CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), which is always fatal and for which there is no treatment.  Bill’s visionary spirit and unwavering commitment to education have left an indelible mark on Nicolás Christian School and the entire Ixil region of Guatemala. With his extensive experience founding Christian schools in the United States, Bill played an instrumental role in establishing the Nicolás Christian School as a beacon of hope with full-day, high-quality education for impoverished Mayan children in Guatemala’s Ixil region. His forward-thinking approach led to the development of diverse educational programs, fostering excellence at the school’s junior and senior high levels.  A passionate advocate for digital literacy, Bill introduced innovative educational technology to students and teachers. This included facilitating access to digital books and educational curriculum via tablets, implementing digital record-keeping for teachers, and creating a tutoring program for sixth graders to prepare them for Nicolas Christian School utilizing RACHEL devices—portable repositories of educational content available offline.  Beyond the school’s premises, Bill’s passion was creating nine village community libraries, collectively housing over 7,000 books to encourage a love of reading amongst the Ixil community. He also initiated annual teacher professional development workshops for Ixil region primary and secondary school educators, covering pivotal topics from classroom management to teaching strategies. Bill’s commitment to inclusivity and expansion of knowledge throughout the Ixil region led to hosting these workshops virtually, thus broadening accessibility. More than 150 teachers attended these annual workshops in a region devoid of teacher professional development resources. Bill’s insatiable curiosity about the world, and his …

Atole de Elote Recipe | Enjoy Guatemala’s Traditional Corn Drink

Becci MerrittBlog, International Leave a Comment

Atole de Elote is a traditional Guatemalan hot beverage made of corn and milk that is served across Guatemala for a warm snack. This is a great easy-to-make snack for the whole family! In Guatemala, women pulverize the fresh corn on a grinding stone or metate to achieve a silky, creamy consistency. Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 45 min | Serves: 8 Step 1: Blend corn one can at a time & 1 1/2 cups water divided evenly in a blender until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large saucepan, pressing pulp against the mesh to release liquid. Discard solids. Step 2: Stir in sugar, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; stir occasionally. Step 3: In another saucepan, bring milk & remaining water to a boil. Stir into corn mixture; remove from heat. Remove cinnamon. Pour into mugs & garnish with reserved corn kernels. Serve warm.

Empower a Dream: Lesly’s Quest to Escape the Cycle of Poverty

Becci MerrittBlog, Student Spotlight Leave a Comment

María Lesly Dayana: An Aspiring Attorney Living in the farming village of Los Angeles in Guatemala’s Ixil region, eighth grader María Lesly Dayana juggles adversity and ambition daily. Despite hailing from a low-income family, Lesly is fiercely determined and dreams of getting an education to escape the cycle of poverty. With dreams of becoming an attorney, she aspires to combat injustice, inspired by the unfairness she has witnessed in her community. She said she has seen people be accused of things they have not done. Every day, Lesly grapples with hardships that most of us can’t even imagine. Her father works in a metal roofing factory in a town three hours from home, Santa Cruz del Quiché, and can only afford the time and cost of the journey home once or twice a month. Lesly helps her mother care for her three younger siblings—5-year-old Isabel, 11-year-old Juana, and 2-year-old Pedro Abisai. Even while helping her mother at home, Lesly works hard on her studies at Nicolás Christian School (NCS). Nicolás Christian School strives to deliver a high-quality, full-day educational program – a rarity in a region like the Ixil.  Faith, Hope, and Nicolás Christian School Lesly’s faith plays a crucial role in her life. She said that God spoke to her to tell her that she would have the opportunity to attend NCS. Lesly said that a particular class she is taking at NCS on Christian leadership has really deepened her spiritual connection to God. Specifically, she learned more about God and how to pray. As a result, God has become more real to Lesly because of this class. The school’s full-day regime, while initially challenging, is no longer a …

Invest in a Brighter Future for Underprivileged Children with Recurring Donations | Nicolás Fund For Education

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Nicolás Fund for Education is dedicated to ensuring that the most disadvantaged children in the Ixil region of Guatemala have access to quality education. Through your support of our programs, you provide high-quality education, tutoring, library books, and entrepreneurial training, empowering these kids with hope and opportunities they would never have had otherwise. Recurring monthly giving provides NFE with a reliable revenue stream, which can be especially beneficial in times when we’re not able to gather or throw in-person fundraising events. Having revenue we can count on helps us to ensure the sustainability of the Nicolás Fund for Education. Giving monthly donations allows the Nicolás Fund for Education to plan more effectively for long-term projects and initiatives.  Set up your recurring donation — be sure to select your giving frequency!  We thank our God for your faithful support for transformative education for kids in the Ixil region of Guatemala! Make your recurring donation today and give Ixil region kids the bright futures they deserve! With your monthly support, you can stand with us in making sure every child has the chance to become educated to reach their God-given potential. 

Celebrating Success: Graduation and Teacher Professional Development Workshop at Nicolás Christian School

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With great thanksgiving, we announce the graduation this month of four students from Nicolás Christian Preschool, 22 from Nicolás Christian Junior High School, 25 from Nicolás Christian High School, and two adults from our adult literacy programs! Your generosity made this possible! Commencement ceremonies will take place during mid-November, weather and road conditions permitting. November is typically a stormy month and recent flooding has posed a challenge getting to outlying villages. We are also delighted to announce that 83 teachers participated in an in-person Teacher Professional Development Workshop hosted by Nicolás Christian School in August, and a total of 125 teachers participated in the online professional development presentations that preceded the in-person conference. This workshop was certified by Seattle Pacific University, and San Carlos University in Nebaj, Guatemala, for the first time, provided certification. The workshop featured a number of international speakers on topics related to education. This workshop advances Nicolás Fund for Education’s mission to improve education for ALL students throughout the Ixil region. To God be the Glory! You have the power to transform lives through education. Nicolás Fund for Education is making a real difference in the Ixil region of Guatemala and breaking the cycle of poverty for students who are thriving. Your support is essential to our mission of tearing down barriers and providing educational opportunities. This month, as we celebrate the students’ accomplishments, we invite you to join us in changing lives with a donation that can make an immediate impact. Instead of traditional gifts, honor those graduating this November with a generous contribution. Witness the joy that unfolds when education becomes accessible to this remarkable community. Together, let’s create a brighter future.

Fulfilling a Dream 2023 Annual Fundraiser: Together we can build a brighter future for our students

Becci MerrittBlog, Fulfilling A Dream Leave a Comment

Dear Donors,  On behalf of the Nicolás Fund For Education (NFE), we sincerely thank you for your generous support at our annual fundraiser, Fulfilling a Dream 2023. Your contributions have been vital in helping us secure the operational budget for the Nicolás Christian School (NCS) in 2024. Nicolás Fund for Education raised $325,000 through Fulfilling a Dream 2023 thanks to generous donors like you. Together, we are making a lasting impact on the lives of underprivileged children by providing them with Christ-centered education and resources to ensure they have opportunities for success that they never thought possible. The Power of Education: Strengthening Our Programs Although we met our immediate goals for the NCS’s operational budget, there is still more work to be done. The comprehensive approach of our educational initiatives requires additional funding to maintain and expand essential programs such as: These initiatives ensure that the children in our care receive an education that empowers them to break the cycle of poverty and become leaders in their communities. By supporting these programs, generous donors like yourself further enhance the transformative impact of a Christ-centered education in these young lives. Help Us Reach Our Full Budget Goals We kindly request your continued support as we strive to raise the necessary funds for the comprehensive development and maintenance of our educational initiatives. Your heartfelt contributions, big or small, play a crucial role in providing hope and a brighter future to these children. Here’s how your donations can make a difference: A Call to Action: Share the Love of Education and Christ At NFE, we believe that education is the key to transforming lives and unlocking potential. We warmly invite you to join …

Thank You For Standing with NFE to Provide a Brighter Future for Mayan Children

Becci MerrittBlog, Financial Transparency and Accountability, Fulfilling A Dream Leave a Comment

Dear Fulfilling a Dream 2023 Attendees, The Nicolás Fund for Education board wishes to extend our heartfelt gratitude for your incredible support at our Fulfilling a Dream fundraising event at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church on April 22, 2023. Seeing so many new faces in the audience filled us with hope and excitement for the future of our organization. Your unwavering generosity has truly made a difference for our cause. We are incredibly grateful to announce that we have raised over $135,000 at the event, with donations still coming in! With each gift, we come one step closer to empowering Mayan youth in the Ixil region of Guatemala to break the generational cycle of poverty through Christ-centered education. The impact of your contribution is undeniable—you are helping us create tangible, lasting change for these young students and their communities. Your support provides access to essential educational opportunities and resources to transform lives for the better. Thanks to your kindness, generations of empowered, educated Mayan youth will transform their communities. We are also thrilled to welcome 28 new supporters to the Nicolás Fund for Education family. Your commitment to our cause strengthens our efforts and inspires us to work harder to make a difference in the lives of these children. We are eager to keep you involved and informed about the progress we make together, thanks to your generosity. Once again, thank you for standing with us in our mission to provide a brighter future for Mayan youth in the Ixil region of Guatemala. We couldn’t do this critical work without partners like you, and we look forward to sharing updates and stories of success in the coming months. With gratitude, The …