NICOLAS FUND FOR EDUCATION

aka NFE   |   Mercer Island, WA   |  www.nicolasfund.org

Mission

Mission: Empowering Mayan youth to break the generational cycle of poverty in the Ixil region of Guatemala through Christ-centered education. Comment: Education produces a generation equipped to contribute to economic and social development. Education for girls is key to improved health and nutrition for their future families. Girls that receive one year of secondary education get married later, have fewer children, have children that are immunized, well-nourished and educated. Education for girls has been linked to overall improvement in the standard of living for the community they live in. We feel that education is a powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty for these young men and women.

Notes from the nonprofit

Nicolás Fund for Education is changing the trajectory of young women's lives in this region. This is important in a region where only 30% of girls enroll in school after sixth grade. Free education stops after 6th grade in Guatemala. In the Ixil, girls normally stop school after 6th grade, get married at age 12 to 14 and start having children immediately, thus keeping them entrenched in poverty. The prevailing pregnancy rate in this for indigenous girls without secondary education is 68%. Nicolás Christian School’s pregnancy rate is under 14% - these young women are CHOOSING to pursue education before getting married and having children. In 2019, 46 % of Nicolás Christian School students were young women. We know that investing in women is a great investment! Better-educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the labor market and earn more, thereby raising Guatemala’s GDP by as much as 1-2%. They give birth to fewer children and have healthier children that can read.

Ruling year info

2013

Nicolas Fund for Education President and Chairman

Rebecca Joan Merritt

Main address

PO Box 3724

Mercer Island, WA 98040 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

45-4887611

NTEE code info

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Free education stops after sixth grade in Guatemala, and the rural indigenous farming families we serve would typically not have the financial resources to send a child to secondary school. Three-fourths of Mayans in Guatemala are poor (ENCOVI 2000). The few families that can afford to send one child to secondary school will typically send a son rather than a daughter. Mayan young women are the most underserved and disadvantaged group. Of rural indigenous young women who do not pursue education after sixth grade, 68% become pregnant between ages 12 and 14, and they have several children by age 30. Only 39% of Mayan women in Guatemala between ages 15- to 64-year-old women are literate. Lack of literacy, formal education and job skills leave these women vulnerable to financial exploitation and domestic abuse. If a husband abandons the family or suffers a disabling injury, the wife has few resources to support her family independently. We serve Ixil and Quiché Mayan peoples.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Nicolás Fund for Education

We provide junior and senior high scholarships and university scholarships for indigenous Mayan youth in the western highland mountains of Guatemala. We operate a preschool program.
The region that these young people live in was terribly impacted by a 36 year civil war, with the Mayan Ixil people from this region caught between the Guatemalan Army and the left-wing Guerillas. More than 200,000 people were killed over the course of the 36-year-long civil war that began in 1960 and ended with peace accords in 1996. About 83 percent of those killed were Mayan, and many were the grandparents of our student population. Students in rural indigenous villages are underserved in education, with few resources provided. Mayan women are the most disadvantaged group by far. Only two-thirds of 10-19 year old Mayan females are literate (vs. 80% of Mayan males) (Shapiro 2005). At age 16, only 25% of Mayan girls are enrolled in school. The primary reason is financial: free education stops after sixth grade in Guatemala. 68% of rural indigenous girls who do not attend school after sixth grade become pregnant between ages 12-14. Students attending Nicolas Christian School are choosing to pursue their educational dreams and delaying childbearing to pursue their educational dreams.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Children and youth
Adults

Nicolás Christian School is a Christian junior and senior high school that we started in January 2016. The is the first full-day school in the region, as the regional standard is half-day junior/senior high programs. We are fully licensed and approved by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education and we not only meet but exceed Guatemalan Ministry of Education requirement
During school closures mandated by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education because of coronavirus, Nicolas Christian School has continued to provide education through use of tablets loaded with memory cards containing one month of digital learning materials and devotionals. Our teachers visit villages every week to check homework, answer questions and provide encouragement. Our preschool students were served through digital programs emailed to parents to use during the preschool closure.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Indigenous peoples
Social and economic status

Provides scholarships to universities and vocational schools.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Young adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of teachers retained after 12 months

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Working poor, People of Central American descent, Adolescents

Related Program

Nicolás Christian School (Colegio Cristiano Nicolás)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Due to the pandemic-related school closure, our PE teacher was laid off in 2021.

Number of teachers involved in school-wide decisions about student learning

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, People of Central American descent, Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Working poor

Related Program

Nicolás Christian School (Colegio Cristiano Nicolás)

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our academic staff was surveyed by Best Christian Workplace Institute in 2019 and 2020, and employee satisfaction in 2020 was the highest level that Best Christian Workplace Institute had measured.

Number of administrators and staff who plan and experience professional development activities together

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, People of Central American descent, Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Working poor

Related Program

Nicolás Christian School (Colegio Cristiano Nicolás)

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our academic staff has completed professional development training in an online academic tool called Progrentis, has completed training in leadership using John Maxwell principles and Teacher Pro. Dev

Number of program participants who receive a secondary school diploma or GED

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, People of Central American descent, Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Working poor

Related Program

Nicolás Christian School (Colegio Cristiano Nicolás)

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Numbered of staff who are satisfied to be an employee of the institution

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, People of Central American descent, Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Working poor

Related Program

Nicolás Christian School (Colegio Cristiano Nicolás)

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our staff participates in annual surveys through the Best Christian Workplace Institute and we consistently rank as a thriving, great place to work. Our staff satisfaction ratings are very high.

Number of donations made by board members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, People of Central American descent, Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Working poor

Related Program

Nicolás Fund for Education

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

100% of our board members donated to Nicolás Fund for Education in 2020.

Number of donors retained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Nicolás Fund for Education

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We have extraordinarily loyal donors. Many of our donors have given consistently since 2013.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Goals
1.Increase the graduation rate from the 9th grade level of all village children to at least 80% of those who start 7th grade in our Christian-based academic program.
2. Increase the percentage of children that graduate from High School (or equivalent) to 80% that start 7th grade in our program.
3. Instill a desire for graduates to contribute to the Ixil region and to their own community so they can “pass on the blessing.”
4. Create a sustainable education initiative involving the village education committees, village families, and primary school teachers.
5. Provide opportunities through Impact trips for donors and others to personally engage with Nicolás Fund for Education scholars and their families.

Nicolás Fund for Education provides free high-quality secondary school education to indigenous Mayan youth living in the western highland mountains of Guatemala.
• We currently serve 140-150 students from nine different Mayan villages or towns at Nicolás Christian School.
• We operate a preschool serving 13 students.
• We provide tutoring for 65 fifth and sixth grade students in nine different villages.
• We have a small university scholarship program for our graduates.
• We present a regional annual Teacher Professional Development Workshop for all K-11 teachers attended by up
to 150 teachers.
Nicolás Christian School is the only full-day school in this region, with other schools following a half-day schedule. We are certified by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education. We are committed to promoting education for women, and 48% of our 2020 student body was female. Each student attending our school also receives leadership training using principles from John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Further, our school offers all of our students a carpentry class where students build tables, chairs, bookshelves and frames. Our students have built all the desks and chairs at our school. Our young women are especially proud of this achievement, and many have stated, “I can do this just as well as any boy!”
During the current pandemic-related closure off schools in Guatemala, our students have continued their education through use of tablets loaded with thirty days of digital learning information so that they can safely study at home. Our teachers visit the villages weekly (wearing personal protective equipment) to check on each student, review homework and answer questions. In spite of our students studying at home in 2020 for most of the school year, they still had a 10% increase in their reading scores, according to Guatemalan Ministry of Education standardized testing. Our students continue to study at home in 2021. Even if the schools re-open, we have concerns that our students would not be safe even in a hybrid school situation due to having to commute to school by micro-bus. Even in a hybrid schedule, that would mean 6-7 students in a microbus, which would not allow sufficient social distancing.
Nicolás Fund for Education has never had any debt and we always fundraise a year in advance for the next year’s students.

Our US organization is all volunteer with the exception of one part-time US virtual assistant, and we concentrate all resources on our school program, staff and students in Guatemala. We have a Guatemalan National Director, Ivan España.
We started our own Christian junior and senior full-day high school in January 2016. We employ an academic staff of one Principal, 14 teachers at Nicolás Christian School and 4 tutors. We have tutors in nine villages working with 5th and 6th grade students to help them prepare to successfully transition to a challenging junior high school program at Nicolás Christian School. We operate a preschool, as well as an adult literacy class.

We have US-based volunteer educators providing assistance to our Guatemalan academic staff through information on reading development programs, classroom management and the educators have initiated the village library concept and promoted fundraising for books to fill shelves.

We have a Guatemalan Advisory Board composed of educational, business and communications leaders assisting us. They have helped us developed software to track key performance indicators, and have been working on promoting improvements to internet access in the region so that our digital learning materials could be shared with public and other private school students in the region.

Since 2016, Nicolás Christian School has helped 239 Mayan students graduate from junior high school and 76 students graduate from high school! Our student body has been composed of an average of about 47-48% females. Mayan young women are the most underserved and disadvantaged group. 68% of rural indigenous young women who do not pursue education after sixth grade become pregnant between ages 12-14 years old and have several children by age 30. Only 39% of 15-64-year-old Mayan women are literate. 100% of enrolled 11th grade students have graduated from high school each year for years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Seventy-three 5th and 6th grade students received tutoring in NINE villages to help prepare them for successful entrance (transition) into 7th grade at Nicolás Christian School. Tutoring includes math, language, social studies, natural science, technology, engineering and citizenship. 47% of our tutoring students are girls. 3 students graduated from preschool in 2020! Only 11% of children in Guatemala have access to preschool programs. These Quiché-speaking children are learning Spanish three to five years earlier than children not in preschool. (Spanish is typically not taught until 3rd grade.) Improved literacy in Spanish will benefit our students throughout their entire academic career and beyond. We have six adults taking adult literacy classes, with two students having progressed to an intermediate level of fluency in Spanish reading.

Prior to school closures related to the pandemic, our academic staff developed digital learning resources that could be used in remote villages. When schools closed on March 14, 2020, we sent each of our students a tablet loaded with 30 days of digital learning material that is swapped out every 30 days for new learning material. Our students continued their education despite the pandemic, and are still studying at home in 2021.

Nicolás Fund for Education has a goal of promoting a culture of reading for pleasure in Guatemala. Nicolás Fund for Education has worked with villages to establish three brand new village libraries filled with new books. Additional village libraries will open in 2021.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have a strategic sustainability goal of having families begin to pay a very nominal tuition in the future. Based on feedback from families we are receiving, we understand that the pandemic in Guatemala has significantly impacted job opportunities. In addition, Hurricanes Eta and Iota wiped out 2020 crops. Based on this feedback, we are deferring implementation of paid tuition of a nominal amount until the economic climate in this region stabilizes post-pandemic.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve, Lack of access to technology.,

Financials

NICOLAS FUND FOR EDUCATION
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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NICOLAS FUND FOR EDUCATION

Board of directors
as of 9/4/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Rebecca Merritt

Self-employed Independent Nurse Case Manager in Workers' Compensation

Term: 2019 - 2021

Rebecca Merritt

Lolo Levy

Bill Safstrom

Mary Young

Kathy Riper

Carrie Nordberg

Heidi Reynolds

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/05/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/03/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.