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

Becci Merritt Blog, 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 …

How Nicolás Fund For Education is Helping Ronaldo Overcome His Challenges

Becci Merritt Blog, Student Spotlight Leave a Comment

Ronaldo is a determined and ambitious young man from Guatemala’s Ixil region. He is working hard in his final year at Nicolás Christian School with the dream of one day becoming a civil engineer and owning his construction company with his father. But, this journey isn’t without obstacles; financial and health challenges stand in the way of him accomplishing his goals. However, through help from Nicolás Fund for Education, he remains hopeful that he can make it happen! Family life is an important value in Ronaldo’s world. His father, Domingo, works as a mason while his mother, Rosa, devotes all of her time to the home and weaving. This strong bond between child and parent has created even closer ties for Ronaldo with his four older brothers – Diego Eduardo, Sergio Nicolás, Juan Ariel, and Domingo Alexander who are adults living in San Juan Cotzal, like himself. He enjoys the beautiful scenery around his neighborhood, Canton Tu Poj, where he lives alongside rivers and waterfalls. The rivers provide a fun swimming spot when he finds some free time. More often than not, Ronaldo chooses to help his father with masonry projects because it involves assisting his father. Ronaldo works without pay. He gives his time out of pure love for his father! Ronaldo was a stellar student throughout primary and junior high school. Even at a young age, he was looking for ways to take his education even further. He found what he was searching for at Nicolás Christian School – an advanced institution full of tools and resources like tablets, microscopes, and TV screens in each classroom! When it came time to hone in on the most challenging subject …

Breaking the Generational Cycle of Poverty: NFE Transforms Lives of Mayan Indigenous Ixil in Guatemala

Becci Merritt Blog Leave a Comment

For over 400 years, the Mayan indigenous people of the Ixil in Guatemala have experienced systematic discrimination, culminating in a civil war that resulted in genocide. This has left these Ixil families locked in poverty for generations. However, one organization is working to break this cycle: Nicolás Fund For Education (NFE). NFE is a 501(c) 3 non-profit dedicated to helping the Ixil youth break the cycle of poverty, injustice, and prejudice. Before NFE came into existence, parents were unable to afford school after 6th grade – leaving children without an education and no hope for their future. Free education stops after sixth grade in Guatemala. The most powerful way to permanently break this cycle of poverty is through education. NFE operates Nicolás Christian School which currently has about 150 students enrolled. They also offer PreK, Kinder, and tutoring for 5th and 6th graders as well as university scholarships. It all began with 13 students. Now there are 85 high school graduates and 17 have earned a university degree. This is particularly significant because only 20% of high school students in the area graduate, and less than 1% graduate from university. To double its impact, NFE is building a larger school that is scheduled to open for the 2024 school year! “We are so proud of the incredible strides and challenges our students are overcoming,” said Becci Merritt, President of NFE. “Our goal is to provide a high-quality Christian education that encourages faith-based values that will help them lead successful lives.” With NFE’s help, these children can look forward to brighter futures than ever before – free from poverty and injustice.

Keren Shares How She Will Fulfill Her Dreams with Nicolás Fund For Education (As written by Keren, herself)

Becci Merritt Blog, Student Spotlight Leave a Comment

My father is fifty-three years old and my mom is fifty-two years old. My mom works at home and my dad is a teacher. I have five siblings. I am currently studying at the Nicolás Christian School, and I am in the 11th grade. I live in San Juan Cotzal, which is a place full of culture and tradition where each season is celebrated with joy, especially when the corn is harvested. Cotzal is also a place full of tourist attractions.  All the Cotzalenses (people living in Cotzal) live as a family. I would like to attend university next year. I want to explore and express myself, just like I do at school. I would like to be able to help and serve people who need my help, in the spiritual field. My goal is to be able to worship in a better way and to serve God. Time management is a challenge for me. I feel that there is never enough time. I see how important time management can be. My frustration is that sometimes I don’t do my best at certain points and I feel that I can’t do more. The achievement that makes me proudest is that I can sing and I can also play the piano. I feel proud of myself, as do my parents. At the moment I’m taking more music lessons.  Note: Keren sings in the Praise band at her church, Full Gospel Church of San Juan Cotzal. Keren is a good student but struggles a bit with math. 

Meet Outstanding Nicolás Christian School Scholar Yesica!

Becci Merritt Blog, Student Spotlight Leave a Comment

Meet Nicolás Christian School 11th-grader, Yesica. She lives in the village of Los Angeles in a mountainous region in northwestern Guatemala. Los Angeles is a farming village of 150 families. Yesica described Los Angeles as “very poor,” with only a few families having money. Home Life Her father and mother are Francisco and Catarina. Francisco owns and operates a small tienda (convenience store) in Los Angeles. Catarina is a full-time homemaker. Yesica has two little sisters and a brother. Her sister, Jazmín Amanda, attends Nicolás Christian School as a 7th grader. She has a younger sister, Sandy Carina, and a younger brother, Abner Andry. School Life Yesica was an honor student when she attended elementary school in Los Angeles and has continued to be an honor student at Nicolás Christian School. Ivan España, Nicolás Fund for Education National Director, describes Yesica as “disciplined” and aware of her academic responsibilities. She is a terrific role model for her younger brother and sister. Her Burden But something is worrying Yesica, and she dissolves into tears as she tries to describe her concern. Her father, Francisco, has had severe back pain for a year and isn’t improving. Yesica told us, “It makes me feel very bad to see him like this.”  Her number one prayer request is that her father’s back pain would resolve, and she has requested prayer in the past from our monthly virtual prayer group. Please pray that God will restore Yesica’s father to complete health and mobility. Yesica told us that without the support of donors like you, she would not be able to attend Nicolás Christian high school. Yesica said that if she couldn’t be a student at …

Love Conquers All: Teacher Marries Policeman in Stunning Ceremony

Becci Merritt Blog 1 Comment

Teacher Petronila Ramos (‘Nila’) was married on Saturday, January 14th! She married Juan Garcia, a policeman, in San Juan Cotzal. Nila looked exceedingly happy. Nicolás Fund for Education National Director Ivan España and his wife Jeanneth attended the ceremony. According to Ivan España, many people attended the wedding, and all NFE staff were among the guests. Ivan explained that in Ixil culture the bride’s family gives attendees a soda and a piece of bread. The bride then leaves to go to her husband’s home, and another party is held there. Guatemalan custom is that traditional receptions are hosted by the groom’s mother at their family home, with all guests from the ceremony in attendance. The groom’s mother welcomes her new daughter-in-law into the house and family. In the doorway of the home, a bell filled with rice, flour, and grains is hung to symbolize financial prosperity. As soon as the bride and groom enter the house, the groom’s mom breaks the bell and wishes the couple well! Nila’s mother, Juana, is reportedly quite pleased with her daughter’s choice of husband and hopeful for her daughter’s happiness.

Remembering Pedro Davíd Pérez Sambrano: An English Teacher Who Made a Difference

Becci Merritt Blog Leave a Comment

With tremendous sadness, we announce the tragic and unexpected death of our beloved English teacher, Pedro Davíd Pérez Sambrano. Pedro Davíd, 25 years old, was riding his motorcycle home in the dark two days before Christmas. A construction truck had illegally parked on the road near the Los Angeles village with no warning cones or lights. Pedro Davíd collided with the truck and was likely killed instantly. Pedro Davíd is survived by his parents Diego and María (La Bendición), brother Eduardo (USA) twin brothers Gaspar (USA) and Juan (La Bendición), and Nicolás Christian School 10th-grader Angel Gabriel (La Bendición). As is the custom in Guatemala, Pedro Davíd’s body was in Diego and María’s home for visitation the day after the accident in a beautifully carved wood casket. Friends of the family brought food and provided support. The funeral was held in the home and broadcast by loudspeaker to the entire village. Nicolás Christian School Senior Coordinator Noé Molina conducted the funeral service, and many of the Nicolás Christian School staff and some students attended the standing-room-only service. (School was not in session because of Christmas break.) Pedro Davíd was given a posthumous award and received the Teacher-of-the-Month award in 2021. Following the funeral, attendees walked to San Felipe Chenla where Pedro Davíd’s body was interred. Pedro Davíd graduated from Nicolás Christian School and then from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala with a degree/PEM certification in Education. Pedro Davíd was fluent in Ixil, Spanish, and English. He was an inspirational teacher for our students, always willing to help, and a terrific team member at Nicolás Christian School. Pedro Davíd, a strong Christian, indicated that one of his strongest values was humility. …

Nicolás Christian School Lifts The Whole Community

Holly Boone Blog, Impact Trips Leave a Comment

Nicolás Christian School lifts the whole community. That’s what I would tell you if I could tell you just one thing about my recent trip to attend graduation ceremonies at Nicolás Christian School in Guatemala. This fact was evident on our first day in the Ixil, a rainy Sunday morning when we drove the rutted roads to the tiny village of San Nicolás to attend graduation at the village preschool. Nicolás Christian School established the preschool a few years ago, and as you might expect, the children were predictably adorable. (See for yourself in the video.) It struck me that all the thought and effort that went into the ceremony—providing tiny caps and gowns, decorating the cinderblock school room, strewing the floor with fragrant pine needles and flowers, the presence of us visitors, the speechmaking, the many verses of the Guatemalan and US national anthems we sung or tried to sing—sent the important message that education is important. Your child’s education is important. Your education is important. I was pleased that the ceremony also recognized several women and one man who had completed an adult literacy course also run by Nicolás Christian School. I have always been impressed by the extensive continuing education Nicolás Christian School offers free to all area primary school teachers each July. This program helps improve the quality of education for all students in the Ixil, even those who never attend Nicolás Christian School itself. In the muddy little village of San Nicolás, a cheerful, loving preschool and an adult literacy program confirmed my belief that Nicolás Christian School greatly benefits the wider community, many more people than the students in its classes. The next day, …

Spread the Word about Nicolás Fund for Education!

Becci Merritt Blog Leave a Comment

Nicolás Fund for Education has the BEST, most loyal donors that any nonprofit could ever wish for! The only problem is….we need more of you! Would you help us by spreading the word about why you think NFE is a nonprofit worth supporting? Spread it in whatever way you want this month: word-of-mouth, email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, or Pony Express! Just get the word out to someone who might not know about NFE. We have a special opportunity for you to help us on November 29, Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a global movement that inspires millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Support can take many forms: volunteering, donations, and prayer support. All are welcome! Here are three images that you may use to communicate about NFE to others. You can let people know that our mission is to empower Mayan youth to break thegenerational cycle of poverty in Guatemala through Christ-centered education. Giving Tuesday on November 29th is the perfect opportunity to send a message to your friends and family about why you love Nicolás Fund For Education. Thank you for your help!

Help Us Bring All 150 Students Back in January 2023!

Becci Merritt Blog Leave a Comment

You are making a tremendous impact in the lives of Nicolás Christian School students! Students and Graduates are becoming entrepreneurs, and some are independently securing their grants and microloans to pursue different types of farming enterprises. Our July 2022 team saw more than six greenhouses producing the most beautiful Roma tomatoes. Nicolás Christian School graduate Antonio is working in the greenhouses. Their first harvest was 100 lbs. of tomatoes! Some graduates, like Sucely Jenyfer, are successful business owners in Cotzal. Sucely Jenyfer currently has a plan to go to baking school so that she can open a bakery…in addition to her successful clothing shop in Cotzal! Nicolás Christian School students have options Other students who don’t have a desire to attend university in the future have a new option to transfer to an Intecap trade school after 9th grade. Nicolás Christian School currently has ten scholarships to offer that cover tuition at the Huehuetenango campus. Intecap trade schools have an excellent jobplacement rate after graduation. Our graduates have hope for a better future because of the education you are providing for them. Hope for a better future is key in this part of Guatemala, recognized as the #1 area for youth suicide in the country. To fully fund the 2023 academic year for 150 students, Nicolás Fund for Education must raise$174,000 by 12.31.22. This would require 58 donors to donate $3000 before 12.31.22. We also have a new option for donors to make a total pledge towards the 2023 academic school year that can be paid in installments as long as the last installment payment is received by 12.31.22. For more information, call Becci Merritt at 425.243.3709. Make a donation …