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More than 40 girls graduating from high school in Guatemala have money to get a higher education thanks to an endowment now administered by the Evergreen Rotary Foundation.

In December, the Guatemala Indigenous Women’s Endowment Fund provided $24,000 in scholarships to students at MAIA Impact School in Sololá, Guatemala. They are attending Guatamala universities majoring in a variety of fields including nursing, psychology, social work, education, law, engineering, business administration and microbiology.

The Evergreen Rotary Foundation now manages a $200,000 endowment from the Quetzal University Fund that pays for the scholarships for MAIA students. In addition to tuition, the scholarships will be tailored to the students’ needs, which could include extra tutoring, transportation, purchasing a computer or other college necessities, filling in the gaps in their education, according to Evergreen Rotary member Al Steger.

“This is a continuation of what we do,” said Jim Kreider, Evergreen Rotary Foundation treasurer. “It’s exactly what we do with our international service committee. It’s very gratifying.”

Steger added that helping the girls succeed in college aligns with Rotary International’s objectives, one of which is addressing gender inequity in the world.

“Many of these girls will go back and work in their communities and provide opportunities for the future,” Steger said. “We hope all of the girls will pay it forward. We see this as pulling these girls and eventually the country out of poverty.”

Helping women, girls in Guatemala

Evergreen Rotary got involved with helping women and girls in Guatemala in 1998 thanks to Ted and Connie Ning of Evergreen, who operate nonprofits there: one through Friendship Bridge that provides micro-loans to women so they can operate businesses; the second, which is MAIA school for girls in seventh through 12th grade; and the Quetzal University Fund.

“We were the first nonprofit in Evergreen that had an international interest — Friendship Bridge,” Ted Ning said. “We stuck out because we were interested in something outside Colorado, and we have been able to sustain our programs.”

Ted explained that it was important for Evergreen to be involved in lifting up women in Guatemala because as Connie says, “We’re all one family.”

“Having a nonprofit that works in a country that is struggling to develop shows our connectedness,” Ted said. “Ultimately, they are not that different from us. They just are born into different and more difficult situations. We have the opportunity to helps lots of people through all three organizations in Guatemala.”

Since Evergreen Rotary has been involved with funding Friendship Bridge and MAIA, it was a natural progression to get involved with the university fund and overseeing the endowment, Kreider said.

“It’s a logical transition that we would also support the endowment that is supporting scholarships for students graduating from MAIA and going to college,” Kreider said. “We are just supporting what we’ve been supporting since Day 1. It really is a perfect transition for Rotary to also handle the Guatemala women’s endowment. It makes so much sense.”

Ning said all three programs are intertwined, and they have helped more than one generation of women have better lives.

“They are becoming an interconnected network, and each woman represents a star in that network,” Ning said. “With the education and social responsibility they have—it looks good for Guatemala.”