2013-11-16 | Second Tutorials_2013-11-16_08-15-37_IMG_2945_©DaveMacDonald2013.jpg

forging my tomorrow

developing young guatemalan leaders



If we can give something for our community, for these girls, for these boys, why not? - Candelaria Xep de Garcia, co-founder

WHO: We choose scholarship students starting in seventh grade, based on their drive, work ethic, financial need, and leadership aptitude.  They come from low-income rural families, usually with parents who can't read, but who are dedicated to helping their children learn. Every student in our program would have been an economic dropout. We award them scholarships to attend their local public schools, so our 35 students attend more than a dozen schools, sometimes 2 hours from our home in Panajachel.

WHAT: We call our association "Forging My Tomorrow," which is "Forjando Mi Mañana" in Spanish, because it is the students who are forging it, for themselves.

Scholarship student groups meet every week to receive tutorials on self-esteem, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, environmental issues, sexual and reproductive health, and leadership. They are also tutored in other activities including: sewing, computers, arts and crafts, and English, so that they can compete in a globalized world.

We have hosted five English House immersion programs during school vacations in November-December. These are two-month intensive English experiences that boost our students in their conversational and written English, through interaction with Canadian and American volunteer teachers. English House 2019 will take place in November-December.

WHEN: We don't wait for them to become leaders in the future; we expect them to lead now. We have 35 students, often only 13-14 years old, helping as tutors within their own communities, tutoring younger children in mathematics, reading and writing. They are receiving a scholarship, and they can start "paying it forward" immediately.



  • Typical Junior High School Student:  $700 annually or $70/mo. for 10 months

  • High School Student: $850/ annually or $85/mo for 10 months or upwards, depending on the caliber of the school, and other scholarship assistance.

  • General Scholarship Fund:   We welcome donations of any amount you choose, which can help students lacking a full scholarship, or other needs.

  • English Program during the year: $6000 for 10 months.

FAMILY PARTICIPATION: Students win scholarships covering at least 80% of the costs, and we expect the student and family to sacrifice and contribute a part for a valuable education, which helps them understand and prioritize its value.


  • Many of our first students are studying at and graduating from great high schools like the Universidad del Valle Altiplano, in nearby Solola. Almost all are now at the top of their classes, and at least one-third of our students have become the top students in their classes and schools, carrying the honour of the Guatemalan flags at graduation.

  • Miguel won the full-ride Walton Scholarship to study in the United States at John Brown University, thanks to the Walton Family Foundation of Wal-Mart. He graduated in 2019, with a degree in international business, and is now working with TELUS International in Guatemala City. The Walton Scholarship awards only 2-3 scholarships in all of Guatemala each year. Our student Juan Antonio won as well, and will graduate in 2020 in business management.

  • Lidia and Evelyn won their first jobs as Salesforce business analysts with Torrent Consulting in Antigua, an American technology company. They are studying marketing and systems engineering, respectively.

  • Alvaro won a high school scholarship in Canada, and is now working with Torrent as well, and studying systems engineering.

  • Mayra taught English at a school in Xiamen, China, and is now working with TELUS International as well.

  • Florinda won a high school scholarship in Canada, and is now working as a Spanish teacher for American students in Panajachel, and studying business.

  • Donis will graduate as a teacher in 2019, teaching mathematics and Spanish.

  • Each year since 2015, 3 - 5 of our students have won scholarships to study English in California at the Summer English Institute during July, an intensive program with students from around the world.

  • Eimy and Silvia have won scholarships to Wheaton Academy, a private high school in the Chicago area, and started in August 2019.

  • Six more graduates will launch in fall 2019, pursuing higher education and work with English and technology.




1/3 of Guatemalan teens drop out before age 15, largely due to poverty. Public school is only free up to sixth grade.


how many?

35 students

Ages 13-20


from where?

Lake Atitlan-area villages like:

Buena Vista

Peña Blanca

San Andres

Children's Tutorials

Our vision is to help them explore and expand their abilities and capacities.

- Candelaria Xep de Garcia

WHY: Mayan children in the rural villages around Panajachel usually speak their Kakchiquel dialect until they enter school. School, however, is taught only in Spanish. The first few years of school are consequently very difficult and discouraging, and parents are often unable to help, since they speak minimal Spanish themselves, and may be illiterate or minimally educated. 

“The Saturday tutorials help my two children to improve their reading skills; before attending the tutorials, I heard them struggling while reading and trying to understand what they read, but now, with Mayra, their tutor, they read better and understand how fun it is to read books.”
— Mother, San Andres Semetebaj

WHAT: Our scholarship students, who are receiving tuition assistance and further education, are the neighbors of these children, and the local "heroes." They speak Kakchiquel, but also speak Spanish, are learning English, and they are uniquely positioned to motivate and inspire the next generation. When these teenagers lead Saturday literacy and homework-help tutorials for their young neighbors, the children stay in school, and surpass that intial obstacle.

WHEN: Tutorials are held in nine rural communities now, on Saturday mornings. These are voluntary, and extremely appreciated by the families of the children.

We don’t give up. We give back.

COST: Local communities are expected to provide a location. Our program provides the scholarship student teachers, school supplies, a nutritious Saturday snack to fuel learning, first-time learning excursions outside the villages, coaching for parents, and organization. The cost per group annually is: $1400 dollars and during this year 2019, we are provinding tutoring to 13 groups, covering Monte Mercedes, Buena Vista, Peña Blanca and San Andres Semetabaj. We welcome donations of any amount you choose to support this program.

RESULTS: Children who attend regularly on Saturdays, give their best efforts, and have their parents behind them have a much better chance at success in school. We are tracking the comparative results, and have already seen some of the children mature into successful scholarship candidates, win our scholarships, and become the teachers. Angelica, Mayrita, and Oliver are examples from the Buena Vista tutorials.

“Thanks to this program my 8-year-old daughter finished her school year. At the beginning of the year, she was struggling with me to attend school. She said that she did not like school, and she was failing her first exams. Then I heard about this program, so I started sending her every Saturday. As a result, my daughter enjoyed going every Saturday and her grades started improving. Thanks to this program, my daughter passed her school year.”
— Mother, Santa Catarina Palopo

IMAGINE if you entered Spanish immersion school at age six. Would you need some extra help?


how many?

200+ students

Ages 4-13


from where?

Lake-area villages like:

Buena Vista

Peña Blanca

Santa Catarina



We want integrated education. If a future job opportunity requires computers, they will be able to succeed.

- Gregorio Garcia, co-founder

WHAT: We promote learning centers, literacy program, cosntructions in rural communities.

LEARNING CENTERS: In Buena Vista, thanks to the collaboration of many individuals and donors, we have helped establish a library with an extensive collection, a laptop lab, internet connection, copier, and printer. The program is run by our scholarship students, as well as a part-time librarian. The second pilot program in Monte Mercedes follows the same model, and has been very popular with the children of the communities.


learning Center Operation:

  • $6000 annualy cost including Salary for the librarian, school supply, maintanance, etc.

Learning Center Construction:

  • $35,0000 to build a new leaning center covening only materials.


  • $5,000 to build a decent family house.

Literacy program:

  • $1000 annually including facilitator, school supply, a snack, work shop about nutrition, health, birth control, and others.




Guatemalan students must pass a typing test in order to advance to seventh grade. Most attend after-school typing classes on ancient typewriters, in order to learn.



Computers can cost double in Guatemala what they do in Canada or the USA.

Buena Vista has a lab of old iBooks and MacBooks from Canada, since these can be converted from English to Spanish in seconds.

About Us

In Panajachel, the main part of the economy is tourism. When there are foreign people in your town, if you know their language, you will be able to get a job.

- Gregorio Garcia, co-founder

Candelaria and Gregorio, co-founders, with sons Brian and Pablo

Candelaria and Gregorio, co-founders, with sons Brian and Pablo

WHO: Gregorio and I (Candelaria) both grew up in very simple families, with very little money. Gregorio sold beadwork bracelets to tourists after school, saving $10/year from age six to ten. With that $40, he found a used sewing machine, in another lake village. His father backpacked the sewing machine across the mountains, and Gregorio put himself into tailoring school at night, graduating at age 12. With that trade, and a lot of sewing suits and pants, he put himself through high school and university.

I (Candelaria) grew up collecting firewood on the mountainsides, flowers for soup, and struggling to get to school. My father Antonio, against the mockery of his relatives, decided that his daughters were going to get an education. Because of this, I graduated high school, and met Gregorio at university. We were both working at a disorganized Spanish school for foreigners, and thought "we could do this better."

We founded our Spanish School Jabel Tinamit in 1999 with a $500 loan from a German friend, and have grown it into one of the best language schools in the nation. We were selected by INGUAT, the Guatemalan tourist agency, to represent our language school industry at international conferences in Berlin and Montreal. Our teachers teach one-on-one lessons, in person or via Skype, Hangouts, and FaceTime, to 200+ students in 25+ countries each week.

WHY: Our dream, however, has always been to be more than just self-sustaining business owners, but to be leaders who are giving back to our community and the next generation. With this in mind, we launched Forging My Tomorrow in 2011, applying business principles and accountability to the social work that is so dearly needed by our teenagers. We do this as volunteers, while accepting donations towards the costs of tuition and programs for the children. Our friends Guatemala Conexions accept and receipt Canadian and American donations, and our friends Friends of FORMA accept and receipt American donations.

COSTS: With 35+ teenage scholarship students, and 250+ children in the tutorials, as well as libraries, computer centers, micro loans, and various other ideas in progress, we have been blessed to have many people contribute each year.





In Guatemala, university can cost less than $1000/year, and classes are on weekends, so that students can work during the week.



In the Lake Atitlan area, Panajachel is the center of tourism, and English is the language of tourism. With English, our students will have job opportunities for life.



Lidia, Mayra, and Miguel were in the first video, back in 2012 when they didn't speak any English. See them now:


We are volunteers, giving of our own time and resources. We don't have overhead, official offices, Suburbans, or conferences. We help children and teenagers who are willing to work hard, and who will serve as mentors to the next generation.

You can donate to help with tuition, transport, school supplies, and training for the students, as well as our learning centers or other projects. We have registered "Forjando Mi Mañana" as a Guatemalan charitable society, which can officially receive donations from international organizations. Our paperwork and record-keeping is accountable and accurate, run with the same transparency and attention we give to our own business.

In Canada, you can donate through MMF, a receipting organization which partners with our friends Guatemala Conexions.

If you'd like to donate through MMF from the United States, please email us for more info at formaguatemala@gmail.com.

In the United States, you can donate through Friends of FORMA, which raises money for our programs each year.

To give directly through PayPal to Forjando Mi Mañana, without receiving a tax receipt.


If you'd like to help volunteer, perhaps by teaching computers or conversational English, please email us at formaguatemala@gmail.com.

Thank you for believing in the potential of our students, and for investing in them. 

 - Candelaria and Gregorio