Thank you to all who attended our Fulfilling a Dream event on April 23, 2022!

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Viewers found the video presentations from our four graduates moving and inspiring! If you missed the event, it isn’t too late to view the 30-minute event or donate to Nicolás Fund for Education to help other students achieve their educational dreams. We are still receiving donations every day from Fulfilling a Dream so a final total from the event is not yet available.  Early returns suggest that we might not achieve our $100,000 goal for this event. Please make your donation TODAY to provide Christian education for young people in the Ixil that transforms their lives and helps them achieve their human potential!

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INTECAP: A New Opportunity for Nicolás Christian School Students In February 2022, Nicolás Fund for Education entered into a partnership with a Guatemalan non-profit organization called INTECAP. INTECAP is a leader in providing vocational training tailored to the needs of local employers and has existed for 49 years. INTECAP’s mission is to train and certify people to join the Guatemalan labor market so they can contribute to Guatemala’s development and economic competitiveness. Programs offered include Computing/Information Technology, Mechanics, Culinary Arts, Health/Beauty/Aesthetics, Construction, Electrician, Garment Construction/Tailoring, Automotive Mechanics, and Carpentry. A few classes will take place on the Nicolás Christian School campus (such as carpentry) but a much wider variety of course options are available at other INTECAP campuses in Huehuetenango (a three-hour drive from San Juan Cotzal), Quetzaltenango (a 4.5-hour drive from San Juan Cotzal) or Solalá. INTECAP also has multiple campuses located in five different regions of Guatemala. The Huehuetenango campus offers 13 vocational/career options. Other INTECAP locations in Guatemala offer a different assortment of classes so that within Guatemala there are a total of 72 different career options. INTECAP vocational training would be an option for our students who need or want to enter the workforce as soon as possible and could begin the INTECAP program after they graduate from junior high school (9th grade). INTECAP enjoys a very high job placement rate for its graduates and appears to be a solid option for Nicolás Christian School students to become employable or to become entrepreneurs after graduation. The INTECAP Huehuetenango campus offers our Nicolás Christian School students scholarships for tuition, books, basic lodging, and some materials. An INTECAP applicant must pay Q15 (about $2 USD) for the admission test. If …

Girl Scout Raises Money to Buy Library Bookshelves

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Lucy Faulk has been to visit the Ixil region of Guatemala with Nicolás Fund for Education Mission teams several times. Lucy understands the importance of education for these indigenous Mayan youth and she had a dream to do something concrete on her own to make a difference. Lucy decided to raise funds to pay for materials to construct library bookshelves for small village libraries. It took Lucy about two years to raise $210.   The bookshelves were constructed at Nicolás Christian School using Lucy’s donated materials and the forward-facing bookshelf model (seen in photo 2). The bookshelves were installed in the library in the village of San Nicolás. These libraries have been essential during pandemic-related school closures over the past two years, giving village children access to books and helping to ignite a love of reading. Lucy gathered donated books from Tillicum and Puesta del Sol Schools to take down to Guatemala when she visited in 2020 and 2022. She hopes to add more books as they are donated.  The books in each library were selected by teachers and reading specialists and donated by supporters of Nicolás Fund for Education. Each library initially receives about 200 books, and we hope to add more books as they are donated. For anyone wishing to donate books, visit our Book Donation page. Lucy was awarded the “Gold Award” by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. The Gold Award is the highest achievement available within the Girl Scouts of the USA, and can only be earned by Senior (9th-12th grade) and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award. To achieve a Gold Award, a Girl Scout plans a project that …

2022 Fulfilling a Dream Virtual Fundraiser

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Changing Lives and Transforming Communities Every day students in the highlands of Guatemala face significant challenges just to survive. Poor education and lack of access to secondary school doom young people to a life of poverty and hardship. Thanks to help from Nicolás Fund For Education’s generous supporters, Junior and Senior High School students have been beating the odds for the past ten years.  Join us for our annual Fulfilling a Dream Virtual Fundraiser on April 23, 2022 at 7 pm PDT to hear from four former students about how their education is helping to break the cycle of poverty. Ana Alejandrina, Eber Rodriguez, Sara, and Eliseo will share news about their lives since graduation and their dreams for tomorrow. You’ll also hear about progress at Nicolás Christian School and plans for the future. Celebrating 10-years of Service Ten years ago,  Nicolás Fund for Education began helping to transform the lives of the next generation of Ixil youth. Today we are seeing the fruits of our labor. Nicolás Fund For Education students have hope for a brighter future but the need for improvement in education in the Ixil region is critical. With high suicide rates, poverty, and malnutrition, Ixil region students are desperate for high-quality, Christian education. Your support will ensure that students will continue to succeed in 2023!  Registration is Free! We need your help to raise the $200,000 needed for the operating budget for Nicolás Christian School in 2023. Please register today for Nicolás Fund For Education’s 2022 Fulfilling a Dream Virtual Fundraiser. Register today! Spread the Word! Become an ambassador and invite someone who has never heard of Nicolás Fund for Education to join you to attend …

Nicolás Fund for Education Establishes Village Libraries During Pandemic-Related School Closures

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For the most part, Guatemalan schools have been closed since March 14, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Finding strategies to help elementary, middle, and high students keep learning despite school closures is crucial. Nicolás Fund for Education partnered with nine Ixil region villages to establish village lending libraries between 2020 to 2021. NFE plans to open five more village libraries in 2022. These libraries have effectively promoted reading in a culture that typically doesn’t read for pleasure. Nicolás Fund for Education’s (NFE) Academic Chair Bill Safström, M.Ed. spearheaded this program with valuable assistance from NFE volunteer Shirley Kinsey. Mr. Safström is a retired high school principal who is currently working at Seattle Pacific University in teacher education. Ms. Kinsey is a retired middle school reading specialist who helped select appropriate books and apply for grants. NFE volunteer Conchita Chinchilla, a Guatemalan, helped find books in Spanish that were available at a Guatemalan book store. NFE’s Education Committee, populated by education specialists from the Puget Sound region and chaired by Mr. Safström, also assisted in book selection and promotion of a book drive to fill the libraries. Mr. Safström assisted in the creation of the Book Donation page on NFE’s website, where donors can select Spanish language books to donate. A village must donate the space for the library and commit to the ongoing maintenance of the building before establishing a library with help from NFE. The village Education Committee must select and support a village librarian to manage the library. NFE provides a minimum of 200 books to open a library, and we hope to keep adding new books to each library regularly. NFE is seeking book donations at …

Relationships in the Time of the Pandemic

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Nicolás Fund for Education has always been a relational ministry at its core. During our mission trips, our friendships, cultural exchanges, and worship experiences with the Ixil and Quiche people have enriched our lives and strengthened our faith. We have provided prayer and encouragement to many students and families on our mission trips. Nicolás Christian School students and families look forward to our team visits. During this pandemic, we haven’t been able to travel to Guatemala since February 2020 to provide this encouragement because of travel restrictions. How can we encourage Nicolás Christian School staff and students when we cannot be there in person? One way would be to compose a short note of encouragement to a student. We see from the prayer requests submitted by our students for our monthly prayer meetings some common themes and concerns that you might address in your letter: Strong desire to get good grades Fear of their family contracting Covid Prayers that God will intervene in alcoholism of father Managing teenage emotions (frustration, anger, loneliness) Fathers who have found jobs far from home, and are missed  Illness of a family member You will notice from these themes that many are universal concerns that many of us have experienced in our own lives at one point or another. Would you consider composing a short letter drawing from your own experience to comfort or encourage a student? Was there a particular Bible verse that helped you? How did God help you overcome those hard times?  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”   1 Thessalonians 5:11 Let’s resolve to be encouragers for these students in 2022! Send your notes to bmerritt@nicolasfund.org. We will translate them …

A Special Visit

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On my recent trip to the Ixil in November, I had some extra days to visit friends. I loved catching up and learning what was new in their lives. One special visit was to Ana Sajíc’s home in the Los Angeles village. Ana is the widow of Nicolás Toma Cruz, the man for which the Nicolás Fund for Education was named. Only a few days earlier Ana was present at two of her granddaughters’ graduation ceremonies from junior high, Cristel, and from senior high, Ana Elcy. Ana’s youngest son, Miguel Angel, graduated from high school in 2015.  He received a scholarship to continue his education in nursing.  Ana shared with me that Miguel Angel graduated from his nursing program two years ago and was offered a job in Guatemala City. Ana said that he turned down that job offer. He didn’t want to live so far from his home in the Ixil. Soon after turning down the first job offer, he got a job in the Ixil serving four villages. He absolutely loves his work and the team that he works with. Miguel Angel’s English-speaking cousin, Estuardo Sánchez, was my translator during my visits.  Estuardo helped me communicate with Miguel Angel after I returned to Seattle. I had three questions to ask Miguel Angel. Here are those questions and his responses. What do you like best about your job?  “In my work as a professional nurse, I like to care for the people of the Ixil region. This was one of my dreams and today it is being fulfilled. I am in charge of a good (medical) team, and we are providing good professional care.” What are the challenges you face in your job?  “The challenge I …

Nicolás Christian School Receives License for Vocational Training Courses

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Nicolás Fund for Education has a strategic plan to offer vocational technical training as an extracurricular activity! Nicolás Christian School just received approval to begin offering those courses through a Guatemalan Ministry of Education program called CEMUCAF. The program provides and certifies technical occupational training to create a “semi-skilled workforce.” This program benefits local small and medium-sized employers by training graduates in alignment with local labor market needs. CEMUCAF works closely with municipal mayors and coordinates strategic alliances and partnerships with national and international organizations offering employment programs and projects. After finishing the program, the student receives a certificate documenting they acquired knowledge, abilities, and skills in that field.  Nicolás Christian School will add programs slowly. NCS will likely offer carpentry as a course. Potential additional course offerings could include agriculture, dressmaking, crafts, pastry making, cooking, computing, beautician, embroidery, crafts, art and painting, electrician, bakery, blacksmith, piñata-making, and community health. We plan to have dedicated space for onsite vocational training on our new school campus. The Nicolás Fund for Education Capital Campaign is ongoing. A generous donor has agreed to match your donation up to $112,000 toward the full campus buildout.   The reality is that some Nicolás Christian School graduates need to work immediately after high school graduation to help their families. Their families have already financially sacrificed the help of their son or daughter to allow them to study at Nicolás Christian School. Surveys of the few students who had to drop out of Nicolás Christian School state the number one reason for dropping out was financial.  Even though Nicolás Christian School is free, these students need to earn money to help their families. Some students are not interested …

Ivan España’s Dream for the Ixil

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Ivan España, National Director for Niciolás Fund for Education, was interviewed on TV about his hopes for the Ixil region of Guatemala.  Ivan stated that his dream was “… of a region free of youth suicide. That we can have our young people developing in the area without having to emigrate in search of the “American dream.” I dream that every man, woman, and child in this beautiful region of my country can put into full practice all of the gifts that God has given them from the beginning. I dream that one day this region will be taken as a good example and that I can export this development model, this model of leadership, of integral development to all areas of my Guatemala and the entire world. Building a ladder that goes from extreme poverty to complete well-being, in which leadership is a horizontal axis in each of these stages. We are building a convergence center, a “HUB,” which will be the midpoint of development for the entire region and from which we will radiate well-being to the entire Ixil area.”