Edition #1

Welcome to a special project long in the making—a blog to highlight in more detail the behind the scenes work, special topics, the villages and community members we collaborate with and the journey of Next Step Equal Education!


Four generations of a Guatemalan family
Four generations. Kelli M. Perletti. TzunCoc, Guatemala. February, 2023

Working with Next Step Equal Education has been such an enriching experience. I feel a deep privilege to continue to collaborate with the communities that I’ve been getting to know for just shy of a decade on many projects that tremendously improve the local education system. Further, it’s been a wonderful experience to continue working with Alex, Ben and Giulio, who have a deep knowledge and connection to these same communities, and who share a vision of well-funded education in the most underserved areas of rural Guatemala. Although all of us have full-time work and lives outside of Next Step Equal Education, we are in near constant communication with villagers and community members we collaborate with and find it important to travel as often as possible and safe to do so.

People of Chimaxyat

In 2023, we started an annual board member trip to the communities for all of us to hear, see and experience firsthand the needs of the communities. With the success and validation of the first trip, we have continued to spend a week each February shuffling from school to school throughout the rural hillsides of Alta Verapaz, hearing the requests of the communities.

Computers Donated in Chimaxyat

This year, we started our trip in Chimayxat, where we have a thriving and in demand computer lab program and will eventually expand into other programs. What is most impressionable about Chimayxat and their community is their dedication to maintaining and passing down their rich cultural Maya Q’eqchi’ traditions, including medicinal practices, ceremonies and studying the traditional religious ways. Alongside with the mentality and practice, they bring these traditions into their celebrations, most notably decorating with fresh green pine needles covering the floor of the awards ceremony.

Chimaxyat Student With DiplomaDuring the ceremony, we witnessed students of all ages and their families being proud of the work they have done to learn how to navigate computers and programs such as PowerPoint, Excel and Word. The students are not only from the village of Chimayxat but also neighboring villages, and some participants hike great distances to attend classes. Considering how many communities this computer lab serves, we were able to deliver six additional laptops on this trip so that more students can study.

Women of Chimaxyat

We are also planning out how to offer more scholarships to cover the cost of the teacher, as well as ways to incentivize families so that they can send girls and women to study. This is near and dear to my heart, as there are many women and girls that make this community strong, but a much smaller number taking advantage of the computer lab classes. During our meeting with community leaders and students, we were able to ask why there were less women studying; if it was simply a lack of interest or rather a lack of resource that was the barrier. The community assured us that it was mostly to do with families having limited resources, therefore prioritizing male students. Another barrier for women and girls is the housework and food preparation that took up their additional time. We have since started a pilot program to provide Incaparina, a highly nutritional powdered drink that is very easy to make, to female students who consistently attend classes. Already, we have been told of a significant increase in female students by the computer teacher.

Next week, we will share about the requests of Chimayxat and a little more about the region itself! Stay tuned!


- Kelli M. Perletti, Secretary

Visiting Chimaxyat
All additional photos are photographed by Kelli M. Perletti in Chimayxat, Guatemala, February 2024 with permissions of those photographed.

Next Step Equal Education is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law. Our federal tax ID# is 83-3053421.

Copyright © 2023 Next Step Equal Education. All Rights Reserved.

By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies by us and third parties to enhance your experience.

We are not soliciting donations in Washington DC.