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Our Mission

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.


Our History

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 remain in school.  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 secondary 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 2019, there are 43 girls studying in a variety of fields at universities throughout Guatemala.  We expect the program to peak in 2021 at about 55 Q Fund scholars.


Our Partners

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

MAIA https://www.maiaimpact.org/ (formerly Starfish One-by-One) is our Guatemala partner, administering the program on the ground.

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.



Our Team

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.  Current members of the team are (left to right, top to bottom):

  • Theodore Ning, MD

  • Connie Ning

  • Barbara Steger

  • Al Steger

  • Patsy Schmitz

  • Mary Lou Faddick

  • Laura Roiger

  • Yvonne Yousey

  • Anita Kreider

  • Margaret Swahn

Guatemala Staff:

  • Beverly Tecún Cojon

  • María Cecilia “Ceci” Arriaza


Our Scholars

We currently have 41 young women on full scholarship studying law, teaching, nursing, engineering, business administration, and more.  Each is an amazing success story in her own right.  All have come from a background of extreme poverty.  Without the education made possible by MAIA and the Quetzal University Fund, they would likely be married with children at this stage in their lives.  Instead, they are reaching for the stars and will go on to become change agents in their families their communities, their country, and the world.

Use the Scholars link on the menu to see each of our amazing scholarship recipients by the year in which they entered university.