2019 2nd Quarter Newsletter
Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters:
The Maria Lida Foundation has accomplished important milestones since my last newsletter that I am happy to share with you!
I am pleased to announce that since my last newsletter, the Foundation offered two additional courses to its Pilot Cohort. In addition, our first group of students recently completed our entire English Program! This involved attending four levels of intensive English classes and receiving over 165 hours of instruction. I am so proud of our first group of students for completing our Program as it required time, dedication, and a desire to invest in their education!
To celebrate this major accomplishment for the students, our Board President, Patrick O’Neill, and Vice President, Rosemary Meza, traveled to Alausi to attend our first graduation ceremony. The ceremony went very well, with students bringing friends and family members to help congratulate them on their accomplishment. Thank you very much to Patrick and Rosemary for traveling to Alausí to help us celebrate this major event!
In addition, since our last newsletter, the Foundation launched its Second Cohort of students to attend its English program. The Second Cohort has currently completed two levels of intensive English courses and received approximately 90 hours of instruction. The students are excited to continue this program, and the Foundation is currently reviewing options to launch a Third Cohort of students which is expected to begin in the Fall.
Thank you to our Board of Directors, English professors, and students for helping to make the Maria Lida Foundation’s English program successful. I pray that this program continues to positively impact the community of Alausí, Ecuador!
My Trip to Ecuador
In May 2019, I traveled to Ecuador and visited Quito and Alausi. In Quito, our Program Director, Ryan Kersten, and I held a meeting at the U.S. Embassy with two State Department officials. It was wonderful to share the story and progress of the Maria Lida Foundation, and helpful to hear feedback from the representatives. As the Foundation grows and develops its activities in Ecuador, we plan to continue meeting with various stakeholders such as representatives from the United States government, Ecuadorian government, local government, and community members, as we strongly believe that collaboration and feedback from various groups are important to our success.
In addition to meeting with representatives in Quito, I also met with various community members in Alausí including our Pilot Cohort students, some of our Second Cohort students, English teachers, business owners, the Vice President of an indigenous community, the new Mayor of Alausí, and our Program Director. It was great to catch up with everyone! Due to the incredible work of our English teachers and Program Director, I am happy to report that operations on the ground have been established, are running well, and our processes are being streamlined and enhanced over time.
President and Vice President Travel to Ecuador
Our President, Patrick O’Neill, and Vice President, Rosemary Meza, recently traveled to Alausí! During their visit, they celebrated the first graduation of our English class program, met with business owners, helped us open our first office, and explored additional activities tourists can enjoy in Alausí such as the Humboldt trail. Patrick particularly enjoyed the Humboldt trail as it allows people to enjoy history and the beauty of the area at the same time. Please stay tuned on more information on this activity.
Patrick and Rosemary, thank you very much for visiting Alausí! It was wonderful to have an active Board of Directors and I very much appreciate your dedication to the Foundation’s mission!
U.S. and Ecuadorian Nonprofit Legal Statuses
I am very happy to announce that in May 2019, the Maria Lida Foundation officially received its status as a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization in the United States from the Internal Revenue Service! With this status, contributions received can be deducted for federal income tax purposes, even retroactively back to our founding in June of 2018. This accomplishment was not easy to attain. Thank you very much to our nonprofit consultant and Board of Directors for helping us obtain this status! The Foundation is looking forward to exploring grant and other funding opportunities so we may continue doing the good work we have been doing in Alausí, Ecuador!
In June 2019, the Maria Lida Foundation also officially received status as a nonprofit entity in Ecuador! This entity is affiliated with Ecuador’s Ministry of Education, and we are excited to continue our English courses and offer additional courses in Alausí in the future including business and hospitality. Thank you very much to our Board of Directors and attorneys for helping with this process!
Vice President Visits Gates Foundation
Our Vice President, Rosemary Meza, recently visited the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, Washington. During her visit, she met with representatives and informed them of the work the Maria Lida Foundation is doing in Ecuador. The Gates Foundation appears to be genuinely interested in our work and have asked that we continue to keep them informed. We plan to do so and explore future opportunities of collaboration with them! Rosemary, thank you for your service and dedication to the Maria Lida Foundation!
2019 Annual Fundraiser
The Maria Lida Foundation hosted its second annual fundraiser event on July 6th. Thank you very much to all who attended this event and helped make it successful! (Please see blog post for 2019 special fundraiser thanks). Contributions will be used to continue and expand our English and other educational programs, launch a website to promote Alausí to foreign and domestic tourists, and create a business cohort to empower local business owners.
As some of you know, my Aunt Carol recently passed away due to cancer. She and her husband/my Uncle, Dr. William O'Neill, have been staunch supporters of the work the Maria Lida Foundation has done and is doing. To honor my Aunt Carol and Uncle Bill’s commitment to helping others through the Foundation, and in loving memory of my Aunt Carol, the Maria Lida Foundation dedicated a classroom in her name. The Carol Saunders O’Neill classroom is located in Alausí, Ecuador, and will be used to provide classes to adults in the community. Uncle Bill, thank you very much for your devotion to helping others through the Maria Lida Foundation. I know Grandma Maria Lida and Aunt Carol are proud of the work we are doing and watching over us.
If you were unable to attend the fundraiser event but still wish to contribute to our mission, you may do so online at https://www.marialidafoundation.org/collections/contribute
As always, thank you all very much for your interest and support of the Maria Lida Foundation! We look forward to continuing to make great things happen in 2019!