Our New Seventh-Graders Need Your Help!

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Friends, thank you so much for investing in the young lives of Guatemala’s Ixil region! Through your generosity, students from this desperately impoverished region are looking forward to a future free from poverty—through a high-quality secondary education! Because you care deeply about the students we serve together, I want to celebrate with you some of the great accomplishments of the Nicolás Christian School. I also want to share with you an urgent request as the new school year gets underway in January 2017. I am so blessed to report that, still in its first year, the Nicolás Christian School has already become known throughout the Ixil region as a center of educational excellence! Our science and computer labs are one-of-a kind, and our library/resource center is the envy of other schools. The leadership is excellent. And, most important, the school is openly and unapologetically rooted in the Christian faith. No wonder our students are so proud of their school! These amazing blessings are due to donors just like you—along with other faithful friends—who have stepped up to support and pray for the school and NFE students.   This January, a new class of seventh-graders from Agros Ixil villages will start their first year at the Nicolás Christian School. We have begun work with three additional Agros villages, and those children are anxious to begin attending Nicolás Christian School. Three students from San Nicolás, seven students from Cajixay and other students are praying that they will be able to continue their education beyond the sixth grade. We won’t be able to accommodate these additional students unless we can increase our budget. We haven’t yet raised sufficient funding to cover their scholarship …

Come and Join Us on Our Next NFE Impact Team Trip: November 10-19

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Help us celebrate the graduation of our 9th and 11th -grade students this November!   Juanita from La Bendición will also be graduating from 11th grade in her distance learning program. This achievement is a miracle! Juanita’s education stopped after 6th grade because her significant physical disabilities made it impossible for her to travel to another village for 7th grade. Juanita is very bright, and she has flourished through the distance learning program. Her stated goals are to help her parents learn to read and write, to write a book about her life and to help the youth in her village. All of these students have achieved an important milestone. Being able to graduate from high school is not common in the Ixil. Many students in other schools drop out to work in the fields or help at home, or because they are unable to afford the cost of uniforms, books, supplies and transportation required for secondary school education in Guatemala. Drop out rates are high, particularly for girls. Many girls get married at age 14-15 and begin raising their own families. Nicolás Fund for Education has been extremely successful in retaining our students year to year. This is evidence of how God, through donations made to NFE, is literally changing the trajectory of these student’s lives. They are completing high school, getting married later, having children later, and are more likely to have children who are immunized, have better nutrition and are read to by their parents. It is considered quite an honor to have North American guests at graduation ceremonies, and isn’t it an important part of our relationship-focused program to celebrate what these hard-working students and their …

Ninth Grade Students Excel!

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Four Nicolás Christian School ninth grade students were named as Honor Students for their July grades. Isabela Elda, Isabel Rebeca, María Yat and Pedro Isaías all received top scores!     Isabela Elda had the highest score at 87%! The ninth grade as a whole averaged 85%, which is exciting! The grades for Nicolás Christian School 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th -grade students averaged between 75-77%. In Guatemala, a minimum score of 60% is needed to pass a class. NFE has established our own minimum score as 70%. In years past when our students attended a different school, a great deal of tutoring was required to help our students achieve 70%. These recent scores confirm what a great job Professor Braulio is doing as our Nicolás Christian School Principal, and that his educational strategies are succeeding. Our teachers are also to be congratulated for their fine work!

Nicolás Fund for Education: Planning for the Future

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Through your generosity, Nicolás Fund for Education is now able to serve students from five Agros villages: La Esperanza, La Bendición, Belén, Villa Hortencia Uno and now San Nicolás!   NFE is strategically planning for the future. We have a four-year lease on our current school campus. We have three more years on our lease at this location but we can already see that we might outgrow that facility by the end of our lease. We realize that we should allow lots of time to build any infrastructure improvements we would need to make for a different leased property. We are evaluating where that school should be located to serve our students best. The Cotzal area is more central to many of our villages, and having the school closer to our students will reduce NFE transportation costs. However, we also need to be thoughtful about the locations of other Agros villages that might be sending students to our school with the help of donors. By planning now, we hope to have the new school ready to step into when our current lease is up. NFE encourages you to consider whether or not you or your family would like to be one of those future donors and make a five-year commitment to sponsor one student from an Agros village from 7th through 11th grade. We can only add these students to our school as we engage new donors who support them. Might your church small group or business like to sponsor 2-3 students? The cost for a full scholarship for one student is $3000/year. Half scholarships are also available.  

July 2016 NFE Impact Trip

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The July NFE team spent two days with our Nicolás Christian School students, praying for and encouraging them.   Our trips help us to really get to know these students through personal conversations. The students love to perform for teams and have prepared dramas using mime actors. Students also lead us in worship with songs and have recently added instruments such as guitars, keyboard, a trumpet and percussion. The July team was planning to put on the third annual all-day Teacher Professional Development Workshop for local Ixil teachers. This year we’re thrilled to have 80 Ixil teachers attending from a variety of villages! Nicolás Christian School has its own internet capacity, and one of the presenters at the workshop was a Spanish-speaking Seattle Pacific University professor who did a Livestream presentation on the topic of special needs students. The teachers received a certificate from SPU at the end of the day. One of the other real benefits of these workshops is for teachers to network with each other, to promote sharing of resources and information as well as supporting each other in the pursuit of educational excellence. The July team spent time meeting with parents and teachers in La Bendición, La Esperanza and Belén to answer their questions and obtain feedback. The team also spent time with primary school students in these villages. Be on the lookout for the date of the July Team Trip Report for details about how these plans unfolded!

Nicolás Fund for Education: Financial Transparency and Accountability

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Thank you to our donors who are helping Ixil youth to realize their educational dreams! This month, we would like to walk you through how each dollar you donate is spent. For each dollar that you donate:   Nicolas Fund for Education is definitely a “no frills” operation. Our National Director, Ivan España, administers our NFE programs in Guatemala. Our “US Administrative expenses” include our virtual assistant, donor management software, Constant Contact, website, insurance, office supplies and marketing tools such as posters and mailings. We have one part-time “virtual assistant” who is an independent contractor to help coordinate NFE Board activities and assist with communications. The costs associated with our virtual assistant contractor are covered by a private donor, and we are very grateful for this help. We have no NFE employees in the United States. The “Distance Learning Program” refers to Juanita’s and VH1 programs through Instituto Superior de Educación a Distancia. ISEA meets Guatemalan Ministry of Education criteria and standards.  The village tutoring program, however, was created by NFE specifically to better prepare students before they begin 7th grade. Our fundraising costs are far, far below the average for a nonprofit because of our faithful donors and volunteers. This allows our fundraising to be highly efficient so that the least amount of money can be spent to receive a donation. Typically, nonprofits spend about 25-30% of funds raised on the fundraising process itself, according to Charity Navigator.  NFE spends only 2%, thanks to our dedicated team of volunteers who bake, set up and take down our event and the hospitality of both Evergreen Covenant Church and Bellevue Presbyterian for our fundraiser. Our volunteers really help us devote every …

Is an Adventure Calling You? Last call for July 2016 Impact Team Members!

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Take the opportunity to spend a week with God participating in His work in the Ixil region of Guatemala to lift these students up from poverty through education. Your prayers and encouragement are a vital part of their success story!   Our July Impact Team will be meeting soon to plan trip activities! It is not too late to sign up, but time is running out! This Impact Team will get to visit the new computer and science labs, spend time with our Nicolás Christian School students and participate in a Teacher Professional Development Workshop for local teachers. This popular workshop involves both Guatemalan and US teachers sharing information with a mutual goal to improve teaching skills, build networking and stimulate creativity. Time will be spent in the villages of La Bendición and La Esperanza, as well. Trip dates are July 22-August 1. Average cost is $1800-2000 paid over three installments. To sign up, you can now find our Trip Application and Criminal Background Check forms on our NFE website! Simply print these documents off, fill them out and mail them with your $100 deposit to NFE, 9311 SE 36th Street, #202, Mercer Island, WA 98040. Your deposit check should be made out to “Nicolás Fund for Education” and in the memo line write “July 2016 trip”. Do not put your name on the memo line or it won’t be tax-deductible. Put your name on a Post-It on the check, and don’t forget to include your application and National Criminal Background Check form. If this trip doesn’t work for your schedule, the dates for the November graduation trip will be November 10-18 and the February trip dates are February 17-27, …

June Student Spotlight: Pedro David from La Bendición

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Pedro David is the son of pea and fruit tree farmers. He has older twin brothers, Gaspar and Juan, and two younger brothers, Eduardo and Angel Gabriel. Pedro David’s mother has had to stop weaving due to eye problems. In 2006 Pedro David’s parents expressed the dream that their children would, “one day be able to attend and graduate from high school.” Pedro David is just about to fulfill their dream this November when he graduates from 11th grade, thanks to your donations! Pedro David recently volunteered to preach the word of God during student-led worship at Nicolás Christian School, and reportedly did a fantastic job! He is also making progress in both academics and in his spiritual growth, according to NFE Program Director Ivan España. Pedro David was the “Top Student” at Nicolás Christian School last month! Pedro David recently told us, “Before I began attending Nicolás Christian School, I was worried because I was not studying. Now that I have a scholarship to attend Nicolás Christian School, my life is happy and changing many things, and getting better every day. If I were not in school, my life would be different. I would maybe be doing other activities that do not benefit me personally. Please pray for me to do my activities better than before, to get good grades and to not go through bad times.” Pedro David’s mother requests prayer for employment opportunities for Pedro David after graduation in November.