Access to Quality Education in Guatemala

Our Partner
Community Cloud Forest Conservation

For most young women in the remote mountain villages of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, education beyond 6th grade is out of reach. Facing limited resources, many parents send only their sons away to school. Issues these marginalized indigenous people face include extreme poverty, chronic malnutrition, high rates of maternal and infant mortality, illiteracy, and ecosystem degradation. Deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture contribute to global climate change, releasing thousands of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) was founded by American missionaries and ecologists Rob and Tara Cahill in Guatemala in 2008 and incorporated in the United States in 2010. During her earlier work with Heifer International, Tara realized that the key to ending poverty in the central highlands was empowering Q’eqchi’ Maya women. 

CCFC alleviates poverty and protects forests through education, reforestation, community development, leadership scholarships, and ecological improvements to agriculture. Education, especially for young women, is crucial to the healthy and sustainable development of this region.

In 2015, LPGM officially partnered with CCFC. LPGM regularly brings travel groups to experience and learn from CCFC and helps raise funds for WALC scholarships.

Map of Guatemala

The Program
Women in Agroecology Leadership for Conservation

Women in Agroecology for Leadership Conservation (WALC)  is a holistic leadership training program for Maya girls and single young women ages 13-26. They come from remote mountain villages where life is hard and where most girls drop out of school after sixth grade when they'd have to travel even farther to pursue an education.

The program requires them to stay on CCFC's campus for up to 25 days over their summer break, which falls in October and November. Students stay in rustic dormitories, in a cluster of girls and women of different ages. They become like a "family," with all participating in the daily rhythms of work, recreation, worship, and shared meals. They are taught and mentored by Advanced WALC Interns, from their same culture and region. As alumnae of the program and now college students, they become role models to the participants.

Although the curriculum focuses on agroecology (agriculture + ecology), WALC students also learn about nutrition, cooking, health and hygiene, family planning, career and educational options, self-esteem and confidence building, and a large array of other life skills. The goal is to equip each girl for a productive, healthy, and happy life as well as to enable her to be an agent of positive change in her family, community, and village.

WALC has three requirements for each participant: 1) complete a WALC workshop for each year that she is in the program, 2) continue on in school, providing proof of attendance, and 3) establish a small agroforest parcel, planting 16 trees and establishing heirloom and traditional crops. (While most families are poor, they have plenty of land to make this possible.) WALC students who fulfill these three requirements are eligible for a scholarship, funded in part by friends of LPGM.

The impact WALC can make in the lives of young Q'eqchi' women and girls is staggering:  the typical dropout rate between 6th and 7th-grade girls is more than 75%. WALC participants from this same demographic, however, have a less than 5% dropout rate. 


“During the WALC program, I gained a lot of knowledge, and the most important thing was knowing who I am and what I want to do. I gained strength and dedication. Every person can achieve what they set out to do. But one really important thing is to live out the gift that God has given us. We all have a purpose, otherwise we would not have been born.”

-Lilia, a former WALC student who now leads health initiatives in her home village.



WALC participants received a scholarship from LPGM in 2021


cost to educate a Q'eqchi' Maya girl via the WALC program, including a school scholarship


of WALC participants remain in school for another year, thanks to a scholarship

The Impact of Your Support


WALC changes the lives of girls and young women and has a positive impact on their immediate households. The students also bring their newfound knowledge and leadership skills to influence their entire village and the ecological health of their region. And the cloud forest is being reforested!

LPGM is honored to walk alongside CCFC in providing access to quality education to these girls and young women on the margins. 

Donate to a WALC Scholarship

Travel to Guatemala

The next trip to visit CCFC is June 15-24, 2024. Please click below to learn more or to add your name to the interest list! 

View Travel Opportunities