Fueling Girl Power In Guatemala

Education Guatemala
Indigenous girls in Guatemala.
Suzanne Cordero

On World Food Day this Sunday, World Food Program USA is proud to announce The Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund as our 2016 Bertini grant recipient.

When Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), won the World Food Prize for transforming how the agency fights hunger, she saw an opportunity to bolster women’s empowerment across the globe.

Years later, she created a trust fund to support grassroots initiatives that boost access to training and educational opportunities for girls. It has been a winning recipe in the fight against hunger, especially through school meals programs that provide food and education at the same time to young girls. Administered by WFP USA, the fund has awarded 17 grants since 2008. And this year’s grantee is The Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund.

The Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund (GTF) raises support for Ak’ Tenamit, a nonprofit that empowers indigenous girls in rural Guatemala to change their lives through education. It’s a collaboration that aspires to influence how families, parents and teachers value education in rural communities, where many girls do not continue their studies past the 2nd or 3rd grade.

The Bertini grant will help house, feed and educate more than 200 middle and high school girls as well as fund outreach efforts to increase enrollment. Additional funds will be used to purchase solar-powered tablets to replace traditional print textbooks and help transport students to and from their internships.

Suzanne Cordero on a river in Guatemala.
Suzanne Cordero
GTF Executive Director Suzanne Cordero and President Corinne Danielson sit with Maria, a community health promoter.

“This grant is going to create a change in their lives — not just for them, but for their families,” said GTF’s Executive Director Suzanne Cordero. “Some might decide not to go to work immediately, others will be 18 or 19 and not have 3 to 4 children. That’s already a step forward.”

Founded in 1993, the organization has already made incredible strides. Take Dina, who is 28 years old and one of the program’s graduates who studied courses in sustainable tourism. Today she is working in Guatemala with a community-based organization that helps fight for indigenous rights while studying to become a lawyer.

“None of this would have happened if she had not had the opportunity to go to school,” said Cordero, who grew up in Guatemala City.

Young girls in the program graduate with more than 3,000 hours of experience in rural community development or sustainable tourism, two career tracks that position them for future employment. Cordero hopes to expand services to other parts of Guatemala to continue providing ways for indigenous people to prosper in their home country and not feel forced to leave their communities for better options.

“They have the opportunity to help themselves and improve their situations in their home country, and that’s what they’re going to do,” Cordero said.

Learn more about the Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund.