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Students in CoEd's Textbook Program

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Why Guatemala?

For Guatemalans without a good education, daily life is a struggle.Rural Guatemala has one of the highest rates of poverty, illiteracy, and inequality in the Western Hemisphere. Four out of every ten indigenous adults cannot read or write. Many of the Mayan Indians who populate the country’s most remote regions struggle to survive as subsistence farmers, earning less than $4 a day. A typical indigenous woman goes to school for less than two years before dropping out.

Education and technical skills are the keys to success for Guatemalan students.CoEd programs provide young people in Guatemala’s rural towns and villages with educational opportunities and access to technology. Our beneficiaries graduate from middle school, receive marketable technical skills that allow them to compete for higher-paying jobs, and continue their education to high school and beyond. Through our programs, we help today’s vulnerable children rise out of poverty and reshape themselves, and tomorrow’s society, in positive ways.

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How does the situation in Guatemala affect me?

We live in a global world. What happens in other countries—especially those with which we share geographic, social and religious affinities—affects us at home.

Immigration experts believe that more than 10,000 new, undocumented Guatemalans arrive in the U.S. each year. Those who migrate do so out of desperation. In order to feed their families, many impoverished Guatemalans feel they have no other choice but to leave home in search of work—even if it means breaking up the family and facing unknown dangers. Once in the U.S., these migrants put pressure on already scarce local and state resources for schooling, health care, and jobs.   

Helping those most in need benefits us all.

At CoEd, we seek to build local capacity and create opportunities—now and in the future—for Guatemalans in their home communities.

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Does CoEd work in countries other than Guatemala?

CoEd works exclusively in Guatemala to bring about long-term, systemic change there.No. We will continue to focus our development efforts on Guatemala so that every child there will have the opportunity for a better life, beyond poverty. More than 200 of Guatemala’s rural schools now benefit from a CoEd program. But the need is vast, and much work remains in that country.

Further, while many nonprofits spread their resources across a number of countries, CoEd builds long-term relationships with our beneficiaries in one country, providing them with multiple, layered programs that combat poverty. Our approach to “deep” development will bring about long term, systemic change in Guatemala. For example, disadvantaged children in our elementary school reading program will go on to middle school, where they will have access to our textbook and computer programs. They will build on previous skills and develop new ones, increasing their opportunities to pursue higher levels of education and better-paying jobs—and break the cycle of poverty, once and for all. 

That said, our projects can be replicated anywhere in the world—including in the U.S. We remain open and committed to working with other nonprofits from across the globe to share ideas and best practices for serving the world’s poor. 

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How much of my donation goes directly to the programs?

Your donation helps Guatemalan students.We pride ourselves on being good stewards of your donations. On average, 87 cents of every dollar donated to the projects goes directly to helping the children of Guatemala. Only 13 cents of every dollar goes to administrative costs.

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Where can I find CoEd's Federal Tax Identification Number?

If you need to know CoEd's Federal Tax ID Number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), for your company matching gift or other purposes, please contact us at

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Can my money really make a difference in Guatemala?

Your donation makes a difference.YES! A little bit goes a long way in providing vital educational resources and opportunities to Guatemala’s young people. Just $45 a year can provide a child in Guatemala with one of CoEd’s educational programs! Your donation will plant the seed for permanent change in Guatemala.

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How do you know your programs work?

CoEd is committed to evaluating the success of each program and sharing the results with our partners.  

Program evaluations confirm that our interventions work.

With the help of independent researchers in Guatemala, we evaluate both student and teacher outcomes. Our measurable results studies use tools such as surveys, interviews, in-class observations, and pre- and post-tests.

Behind the numbers are the faces and the voices of the individuals we help:   

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How do your programs help children break the cycle of poverty?

A quality education means a brighter future.Through research studies, we know that our program beneficiaries (most of whom are middle-school students) stay in school at higher rates—in fact, dropout rates are 46% lower in schools that have CoEd Textbook Programs compared to schools that do not. Reducing dropout rates is key to poverty reduction in rural Guatemala. Why? According to USAID, Guatemalan children who receive a quality education for a minimum of 12 years will have access to jobs that pay wages high enough to pull them above the poverty line.

Program beneficiaries also report having used the skills acquired in CoEd programs to move on to the next step, whether it is pursuing more schooling or entering into the workforce. These skills help them earn more money and permanently raise their standard of living.

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Why do kids in rural areas need to learn computer skills?

In Guatemala, approximately 60% of entry-level jobs require computer proficiency.

Children in rural communities lack access to computer technology. Without technical skills, indigenous youth face unemployment and economic hardship. As the digital divide grows, so do income disparities, inequality, and poverty.

Computer skills allow the students in CoEd programs to compete for better jobs.

By providing computer training to more than 11,500 students a year, our Computer Center project gives rural young people the opportunity to compete with their urban peers for high-paying, non-farm jobs or to go on for more schooling. Most students enter our program with no technical skills, and finish—three years and 100 lessons later— proficient in navigating the Internet and using software applications (such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Encarta). 

A 2015 internal study of program graduates from a sample of 22 Computer Centers showed that 95% of students go on to find employment or further their education.

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Why doesn’t the Guatemalan government give out textbooks?

CoEd’s programs are designed to be sustainable.Even in the U.S., neither the federal nor state governments purchase textbooks for schools. Rather, local taxes or student fees usually fund them.

Given that three-fourths of Guatemalans in the Western Highlands live in poverty, the tax base is not sufficient to support the provision of books by any level of government. For the past 19 years, CoEd has given local communities the ability to run their own textbook programs, using their own money (rather than having to rely on outside funding).

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How much does it cost to supply schools with textbooks and computers?

The cost to supply each school with a complete set of textbooks for every student depends on the total enrollment at that school and on how many of the four subject areas (math, science, Spanish language, and social studies) the school chooses to work with. If the school chooses to work with all four subject areas, they would receive 12 different textbooks (four subject areas times three grade levels). The initial cost of the books is covered by CoEd and its supporting foundations and organizations, such as Rotary International.

The average sustainable Computer Center costs about $50,000 to install from start to finish, including all equipment. As with textbooks, the initial costs of establishing the center are covered by CoEd and its supporting foundations/organizations. However, much more than the physical computer is required to ensure that the program will benefit students for generations to come. The revolving fund, described below, ensures that the ongoing operating expenses of each center are met, while accumulating enough funds to renew the equipment as it becomes obsolete.

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How does the revolving fund work?

As part of the CoEd Textbook Program, each student “rents” their textbooks for a small fee (about $1.50/month); 100% of student fees go into a revolving fund, which is used to replace the textbooks in approximately five to six years.

At a CoEd Computer Center, part of the revolving fund is used to cover ongoing operating expenses. Each Computer Center has a different student fee with a different financial plan, operating budget, and savings plan based on the specific needs and conditions of each school. About a third of the student fee is saved to replace the computers in six years if all goes according to plan. The remaining 2/3 covers operational costs such as:

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How are student fees paid into the revolving fund?

There are two possible ways for parents to pay the student fees.

  1. In some schools, the parents pay the student fee to the school, and then the school deposits the money in a secure bank account managed by CoEd.
  2. At other schools, parents pay the student fee by depositing it directly at the bank using a special code so that they get credit for their deposit.

Once the deposit has been made, CoEd receives notification when we receive our bank statements. Separately, CoEd produces a “CoEd account statement” for each school and project, so that the school sees how much has been deposited.

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What can I do to help?

There are so many ways to get involved with CoEd. There are so many ways that you can make a difference by getting involved with CoEd. Explore the How You Can Help section to learn about opportunities to join CoEd in our efforts to provide educational opportunities to Guatemalan students. Or, read more about specific volunteer opportunities with CoEd.

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Can I donate school supplies or other items to CoEd's projects?

We recommend making a cash donation, which CoEd can use to purchase school supplies and other items in Guatemala.

We do accept NEW school supplies, including pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, rulers, and similar supplies, as well as sports equipment. Everything we accept must be new, in order to preserve the dignity of the people we serve. We do NOT accept books donated in the United States, computer equipment, paper products, clothes, or soap and shampoo.

During Project Tours, CoEd distributes books, sporting equipment, and pens/pencils to all schools. Any tour participant wishing to distribute other items, such as photos, candy, or clothing can do so without the assistance or involvement of CoEd staff, as long as CoEd staff are notified ahead of time. As luggage space is limited, tour participants must submit a request to Leslie Jenkins Reed at or 513-661-7000, x. 115, if they wish to carry items for distribution on a tour.

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I want to visit Guatemala with you. How can I learn more?

Join us in Guatemala on a CoEd Tour! Explore the Visit Guatemala with CoEd section of our website to find out how you can sign up for one of our life-changing tours. Or, to talk directly to a past CoEd tour participant, please contact:

Jorge Gonzalez, 513-759-2232,

Ed McCarter, 513-321-2841,

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How can I learn more about CoEd’s work in Guatemala?

The 2010 book, Rewriting the Future, describes CoEd’s work in Guatemala, including exclusive stories about the lives and dreams of the children and youths CoEd serves, along with firsthand accounts from other volunteers and CoEd staff members. The book is beautifully illustrated with photos from Ivan Castro.

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