Helping talented young people stay in school
Cancer—the diagnosis that changes any family. When Lesly Patzan's father was diagnosed with cancer, she was but a sixth-grader. It looked like Lesly, as the oldest of seven kids, would be forced to drop out of school, get a job, and help her mom put food on the table while her dad received treatment. Consistently at the top of her class, Lesly had envisoned quite a different future for herself. Seeing both her academic achievement and her need, CoEd offered Lesly a scholarship, allowing her to stay in school—and that has made all the difference.
Lesly's Dream Realized
From a young age, Lesly had dreamed of becoming a nurse, even though no one in her extended family had ever graduated from high school. Her family members were supportive of Lesly continuing in school, but they were skeptical of such a lofty dream. Nevertheless, she was determined to finish high school. The CoEd Scholarship taught her to hope for—and work toward—a brighter future.
“If it wasn't for the CoEd Scholarship, I wouldn't have accomplished my dream. My dream was to be a nurse... and thanks to God, I'm now a nurse.”
—Lesly Patzan, CoEd Scholarship Graduate
Determination was a constant friend in Lesly's journey from sixth grade—when she faced the possibility of being forced to drop out—to her recent high school graduation and the start of her nursing career. As valedictorian of her nursing school class, she sets a powerful example for her younger siblings and for students across Guatemala who dream of a better tomorrow. Without the scholarship provided by CoEd and supporters like you, Lesly's nursing career would have remained only a dream.
Education Connected to Future Earnings
It takes 12 years of education to support a two-person family above the poverty line, but the average Guatemalan has only 4.1 years of schooling. Education beyond the elementary school level is crucial to reducing poverty in rural Guatemala, where those with a middle school education earn as much as 27% more in income each month than their peers without one.
Dropping Out is Common
Studies show that a Guatemalan with a 12th-grade education can earn enough income to break the cycle of poverty, but in Guatemala, only 18% of students reach the milestone of high school graduation. Deficiencies in educational quality, related to poor teacher preparation and insufficient resources, lead almost half of children to drop out before the sixth grade. Extreme poverty exacerbates the situation. Families cannot afford school fees or the opportunity cost of keeping children in school when those children could work instead.
Scholarships Keep Kids in School
The Cooperative for Education seeks to end the cycle of poverty in rural Guatemala one student at a time, by providing children with opportunities to earn scholarships, stay in school, and significantly improve their earning potential over their lifetimes.
How the Program Works
Each year, with the help of sponsors, CoEd provides full academic scholarships to nearly 150 indigenous Mayan students in impoverished communities throughout Guatemala, with a focus on selecting mainly girls (who make up about 70% of the total scholarship recipients each year).
Research shows that educating girls yields a higher rate of return than any other investment in the developing world.
Developing Future Leaders
A CoEd Scholarship goes beyond tuition and school fees and focuses on developing Guatemala's youth into future leaders.
- Giving Back: Students “pay back” their scholarships through community service activities like planting an organic garden or tutoring younger students.
- Broadening Worldviews: Students attend workshops on topics like entrepreneurship, women's rights, and teamwork. They also visit cultural landmarks that open the door to the possibilities that continued education can provide.
- Career Readiness: By visiting local businesses and meeting role models in different careers, students explore the possibilities for their own future.
In a country where the high-school enrollment rate is a dismal 24%, 96% of students who complete middle school with a CoEd Scholarship go on to graduate from high school. The CoEd Scholarship Program helps bright and talented young people like Lesly—who achieved her dream and is inspiring her younger siblings to do the same—stay in school and aspire to a better life, beyond poverty.