Operating an Education Center for 60 Children

by Integral Heart Foundation Vetted since 2012 Top Ranked Site Visit Verified

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a warm and happy New Year in 2017. We would also like to extend a huge hug of thanks to each one of your personally for your on-going support of our school which we opened in March of this year. We are looking forward to a great New Year also with our new funding page for the school at: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/operating-a-school-for-81-children-in-2017/

We now have 85 children attending our programs and with your help we have been able to host our:

 - Critical-Thinking (CT) Programs for Teens
 - 3-year fulltime Teacher-Training Program for 4 of our most senior students
 - English Classes
 - Spanish Classes
 - Psychology Classes
 - Counseling for students and family members
 - Homework Study / Tutoring for Teens
 - Classes and playtime for our junior students and siblings
 - Daycare for a small group of most involved families
 - Programs for moms and dads
 - Home base for our social worker/family liaison
 - Special events and invited speakers
 - Food program serving almost 1,500 meals and snacks per month
 - and the resident street dogs, Chispa, Muneca, and puppy Tasha!

On behalf of our 45 sponsored families, thank you for the bottom of our heart.

Mick, Debora, Marisol, Dona Sonia, Arturo, Leonel, Blanca, and all 85 children of IHF Guatemala

We are coming to the end of the school year here in Guatemala. The kids have finished up with their normal public high-school classes and the third level institutions are begining to close down.

Our school, La Acadamia, will stay open for another month. La Academia is named for Plato's Academy 'a gathering place for intellectuals'. We've had over 800 minds crossing the doorstep monthly. 

It has been a great first year and soon we will be launching a new funding campaign for 2017 which promises to be another bumper year.

And also thanks to your support we have be able to provide:

 - Critical-Thinking (CT) Programs for 40 Teens
 - 3-year fulltime Teacher-Training Program

 - English Classes
 - Spanish Classes
 - Psychology Classes

 - Counseling for students and family members
 - Homework Study / Tutoring for Teens
 - Classes and playtime for our junior students and siblings
 - Daycare for a small group of most involved families

 - Programs for moms and dads
 - Home base for our social worker/family liaison
 - Special events and invited speakers
 - Food program serving almost 1,500 meals and snacks per month
 - and the resident street dogs, Chispa, Muneca, and puppy Tasha!

And, all of the staff are Guatemalans, except for one part-time person.

But, it not all study and growth and in this newsletter we are sharing some of our favorite photos of the playtimes!!

We hope you enjoy them and with warmest regards,

Mick Quinn and Debora Prieto.

At play at home at La Academia
At play at home at La Academia

Because of you, yes you, we have the perfect space, a safe container where the magic of learning can happen.

A space in a country where even moderate success is difficult, especially if you haven’t been born into a “good family”. Where the threat of extortion, drugs, and gangs is rife—we have created together an oasis where children and teenagers can learn, play, dream and be at home.

Because of you, we are proud to call La Academia not a school, but a home.

That is the feeling you get when you visit La Academia, a place where all of us; founders, staff, volunteers, teachers, students, donors, and parents feel at home, surrounded by their huge family.

In this late summer newsletter, we are going to mention some of happenings at La Academia that make it such a home!

Our language teachers are doing a wonderful job with our senior students.

For Spanish, ‘Profe Arturo’ is like a grandfather figure (I hope he forgives me for this) and although it may seem silly, he teaches grammatically correct Spanish; the average language level in State-schools is pretty bad—and we have even found typos in legal contracts. These classes will greatly aid our students as they move on to university and eventually to their own careers.

“Seno Andrea”, as she is known, is our certified English teacher and is from the United States. She is the ‘adventurous cousin’ who takes the students to the local central park to practice their English on unsuspecting tourists.

“Moma Sonia” is actually a great-grandmother at the age of 53, she runs the home and is responsible for the production of 1,500 meals every month.

Marisol, our social worker, and a grandmother herself at 34, is known warmly as ‘Dona Mari’. Her constant presence at La Academia and in her interactions with our sponsored families provides a loving and stable presence—the moms like to chat with her so we can glean so much more information about where to offer help as sometimes they are afraid to ask.

Then of course there is “Tio (uncle) Orlando”, the father of one of our sponsored girls who comes in every day before his own job as a pastry chef to help out in food preparation.

In addition, we have Tasha, Pito, Pinky, Sparky and Muneca, for what family is not complete without canine companions (no group photo available!).

And, as a another sign of our caring family and the great work that the teachers are doing, the senior students are teaching the younger ones at La Academia. This means that they learn and they share what they have learned with the younger generation.

In this group of seniors, we have the ‘wild son’ Felipe, the ‘go-getter’ Saul, the ‘thinker’ JC, the ‘quiet one’ Conal, and the ‘tough career girl’ Gaby. The younger ones are Ingrid known as ‘Ta-ta’, no one knows why, and we have Stephanie and her daughter, also Stephanie who are an example to all, that education can continue, even with an unexpected pregnancy.

We couldn’t feel more proud of them and we are deeply grateful to all of you for supporting our wonderful home and family. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so very much!


PS: for the last quarter, the ‘numbers-man’ Mick underestimated the operating costs leaving us about $6,000 short for this period, so if there is anyone in your family who can help us close this, please forward this newsletter on to them.

Students and Teachers of the Integral Heart Family
Students and Teachers of the Integral Heart Family
Students teaching their younger peers
Students teaching their younger peers
Happily paying attention
Happily paying attention
Profe Arturo teaching Spanish
Profe Arturo teaching Spanish
Seno Andrea teaching English
Seno Andrea teaching English
Moma Sonia hard at work in the kitchen
Moma Sonia hard at work in the kitchen
Saida, Tasha and Dona Mari our social worker
Saida, Tasha and Dona Mari our social worker
Senior student teaching English to young ones
Senior student teaching English to young ones
Dulce at La Academia for play time!
Dulce at La Academia for play time!

Wherever you are right now, whatever you're doing, please pause for a second, take a deep breath, and feel great about what your goodwill has accomplished!

Last winter and this spring, we shared with you a dream of creating a center in Guatemala where students with no opportunity to study could come and get a compelling education in a safe and loving environment.

Over 6 months, you and 160 others came forward, donated what you could and we opened the center, called La Academia.

Who is your donation helping?

There's Sandy, who used to sit malnourished on a dirt floor watching other kids going to school, wishing she had the chance. Now she does. 

There's Carmen, who was a modern day slave, scavenging a dump for recyclables. She's in school now too and brings her 6-year old brother Byron to study.

And there are 58 other children whose inspiring stories begin with your generosity!

With our center open, we now look to the future to figure out our ongoing funding. We had faith we would find enough support to open the center, and trust that same generosity will keep us open. Our total operating expenses in 2016 will be around $30,000—our center only costs 500 Starbucks lattes per month to operate!

Please take a moment to consider your budget and see if there's an amount you would be comfortable contributing to help reach our 2016 funding need. 

We are humbled to be able to do this work and eternally grateful to you for enabling it. 

You are a hero for helping our "little heroes." Our heroes are our students themselves. Despite the poverty and neglect they were born into, they are overcoming long odds and succeeding. Today, they are safe and smiling because of your support. 

Please help us close our funding gap for 2016. This really will mean the world to someone! 

La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
Chente at La Academia
Chente at La Academia
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center
La Academia - The Integral Heart Learning Center


La Academia
La Academia

It's been over 5 years since we first started our work in Guatemala. At the end of last year we had 3 different classes; Critical-Thinking for Teens, Teacher Training Program and our Homework Study Program, all going on in 3 different locations. It was time for us to get our own place.

Finally, and with great thanks for your help, we have the pleasure of opening our own school.

It will be called “La Academia” in honor to Plato’s Academia.

La Academia will be home to our Critical-Thinking (CT) Programs for Teens, which will be expanding to 2 days per week and our Teacher-Training Program with their classes in English, Spanish, CT and psychology. It will also be home to our homework study program for 10-15 year olds and for the future pre-school and junior sponsorship program classes. All of the staff are Guatemalans! How cool is that!!!

Our students, staff members and friends are helping out in cleaning, painting, carrying and doing anything needed to make this dream materialize as soon as possible.

We are also working with our sponsored families, inviting them to view the new school because, now that we have our own space we will be adding programs for our junior sponsored students.

We plan to open the first week of March. Standby for more news and photos.

Thank you to all of you that are making this possible.

We are still short about $5,000 for our first year so please help us sustain “La Academia”.

We will have 5 teaching rooms, office and dining.
We will have 5 teaching rooms, office and dining.
Loading up the desks
Loading up the desks
Staining the book shelves
Staining the book shelves
The Junior sponsorship kids visiting
The Junior sponsorship kids visiting

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Organization Information

Integral Heart Foundation

Location: Salt Lake City, UT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.integralheartfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Debora Morais
Panorama, Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepequez Guatemala

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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