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To support the most promising Starfish graduates in continuing their education by attending universities throughout Guatemala so they may become agents of change for their country and the world.



In 2007, Evergreen residents Ted and Connie Ning, together with Mimi Schlumberger, founded Starfish One-by-One as a non-profit NGO to further the education of young Mayan women in the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala.  In its first five years, Starfish operated as a mentoring program providing financial and other support to assist these young women to continue their

education beyond the six years that was normal in their situation.  The program was successful beyond expectations with over 200 graduates today.

By 2015, Ted and Connie were ready to move on from Starfish and take on a new challenge.  Realizing that many of the graduates of the mentoring program had ambitions and the ability go far beyond a high school education, their answer was to initiate The Quetzal University Fund offering university scholarships to the top performers in the original Starfish mentoring program. 

The first class of Q Fund scholars began their studies in January of 2016.   As of January 2020, there are 44 girls studying in a variety of fields at universities throughout Guatemala.   

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To achieve our goal of impacting the lives of young Mayan women in positive ways as they pursue university education, we emphasize the following areas:


Our goal is to ensure that each student will increase her employment and earning abilities by completing undergraduate university education in Guatemala in a selected area of study.



We support the students in maintaining optimal physical and mental health through their ability to  make decisions that benefit their health, their future relationships, and their families.


During the university experience, the students prepare to become agents of change and increase their empowerment by participating in programs and activities that help them develop internal strength, personal skills, and emotional intelligence. 


As opportunities arise, students will continue lifelong learning by expanding their world view as they participate in internship and employment experiences, as well as international awareness and opportunities.


The Quetzal University Fund is managed by a team of dedicated volunteers who are responsible for all fundraising, administration, publicity, and selection of young women for scholarships.  They are very ably assisted by staff of MAIA in Guatemala to manage the day to day interactions with the students. 


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The Quetzal University Fund is very fortunate to have two great partners: 

  • The Evergreen Rotary Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor providing administrative support and allowing us to use its 501(c)3 status so that all contributions are tax deductible.


In addition to regular oversight of the program, the Quetzal University Fund Executive Committee is engaged in two major activities throughout the year.  It organizes fundraising activities such as the spring teas and a fall outreach events to raise funds for scholarships.  It also conducts an annual insight trip to Guatemala each February to showcase the program for sponsors and potential donors.  You can see photos of these activities in the Photo Albums section of this website.

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We currently have 43 young women receiving full scholarships to attend university.   They are all from an area of about 25 mile radius from the MAIA-Impact School in Solola.  Our students are majoring in a wide variety of fields including nursing, psychology, social work,

education, law, engineering, business administration, and microbiology.  They attend four different universities in Guatemala - University of San Carlos (USAC), Rafael Landivar University, University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG), and Marianlo Galvez University (UMG),  - located in five cities - Solola, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala City, Antigua, and Esquintla.  See map.  To learn more about these amazing young women, check out the Scholars link on the menu.

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