Cooperative for Education, or CoEd for short, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with offices in Cincinnati, Ohio and Guatemala City. Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education. It all started back in 1996, when Jeff Berninger felt moved to do something about the poverty he saw in Guatemala as a volunteer and was inspired to invite his brother, Joe, to join his efforts. They left their private-sector careers in the US and got their very first grant to buy textbooks for an impoverished school on the outskirts of Guatemala’s capital—and CoEd was born. We’ve expanded since then to address the country’s deep need for quality education.
We started providing scholarships in 2000—meaning we’ve had over 15 years of experience giving students the tools they need to make it all the way to graduation. Although girls have the greatest need for access to education, we’ve found great benefits by including boys in our program too. When boys are selected for scholarships, communities more readily accept and support the program, and the values of diversity and gender equality are introduced to both girls and boys.
It also means we’ve learned a lot about exactly what it takes to keep girls in rural Guatemala from dropping out of school. It’s so much more than simply providing financial support. We have to change the way these girls and their parents think about education. Samuel Buc, Scholarship and Youth Development Program Director, puts it best:
“Our goal is to educate not just the students, but the parents on the value of education. We need to help them understand that the sacrifices they’re making to keep their kids in school—one less pair of hands in the fields, one less daily income today—will all be worth it in the future.”
A few years ago, we started to grow the program on a small scale, bringing it from one to three communities. Thanks to the overwhelming response from generous individuals like you, every single new student was sponsored before the school year even began. That’s how we know that people like you are ready and willing to help us expand to even more girls and begin to truly make a large-scale impact on Guatemala’s future.
1,000 girls is an ambitious goal, but we know that we can do it—with your help!