We Connect
Donors with Proven Projects

Our Approach to Advance Guatemala

We Connect
Donors with Proven Projects

For interested donors, finding reputable organizations performing real, meaningful work in Guatemala is one of the top challenges. For charities, the fight for funding is daunting. That’s where Advance Guatemala comes in.

  1. We find and evaluate the right charities.
  2. We select one or more projects to focus on each year.
  3. We raise funding through donations and events.
  4. We facilitate transfer of funds to the organization.

More Than a Name.
It’s Our Mission.

Advance Guatemala isn’t just our name, it’s our call to action. A charge to do what we can to lift up this incredible country and its people. To accomplish this, we find and support projects that fall within four fundamental sectors that promote long-term improvement and economic development for any country and community; Housing, Education, Healthcare and Entrepreneurship. Our diversified approach allows donors to contribute to a specific sector or project that aligns best with their personal philanthropic intentions.


Adult Literacy Rate
Finish Middle School
Finish High School

Approximately 12% of males 15-24 years of age and 17% of females are illiterate. Reflecting even worse literacy rates in past generations, the overall adult literacy rate is only 73%.

While nearly all Guatemalan children enroll in primary school, the attendance ratio is less than 80% and only approximately 62% are still in school at grade six. Approximately 25% of the student-age population finish middle school equivalent and only about 11% finish the equivalent of high school. These percentages are lower in the rural areas, especially in certain indigenous communities.

In theory, the government provides primary and secondary education for free. In practice, parents or students have to pay for uniforms, school books, school supplies and any needed transportation.

Many middle class and even poorer families opt for their children to attend private schools if they are available and affordable.

Widespread primary and secondary education are critical to a country’s progress in many other areas including the economy, technology, health, literature and culture. Advance Guatemala is committed to assisting education programs that will prepare students to be able to significantly contribute to the betterment of their country.


The housing deficit in Guatemala is estimated at approximately 1.2 million homes. Many of these families live in makeshift houses made of materials such as adobe, corrugated sheet metal, wooden planks or palm thatching. Approximately 31% of houses have dirt floors (59% among the poor). Twenty-one percent of the rural population (and 10% of the urban) suffer from inadequate sanitation facilities.

Housing Deficit
Dirt Floor Homes
Inadequate Sanitation

Both population growth and natural disasters have made the provision of sufficient affordable housing very challenging. An additional challenge is the lack of clear title to land on the part of many of the country’s poor. Another is the lack of access to bank financing by the majority of the population.

Some programs – such as Habitat for Humanity – are able to build a healthful 500+ square foot block house for less than $5,000 in materials. The owners-to-be (plus their neighbors) provide the labor and pay back the cost of materials as a no-interest loan.

Providing affordable housing in a sustainable way is a long-term process, one with Advance Guatemala is committed to supporting.


Worst in Infant Mortalities
Children Underweight
Children Vaccinated

As babies and children are the most vulnerable members of human society, the under-five mortality rate is often a prime indicator of the overall well-being of a community or country. Guatemala’s under-five mortality rate in 2008 was 35 per thousand live births. This compares with 17 in Mexico and 8 in the United States. While this is a big improvement over the rate of 77 in 1990, Guatemala still ranks 77th worst out of almost 200 countries.

On the positive side, Guatemala vaccinates almost all of its children – 85% to 99% depending on the vaccine. Approximately 94% of the rural population (and 99% of the urban) have improved drinking water supplies. Both of these measures have greatly contributed to improved health and lower infant and child mortality.

Indicative of both long and short-term under-nutrition, over half of children under five suffer from stunted growth and approximately 23% are underweight. UNICEF reports that only 22% of children under five suffering from diarrhea receive appropriate rehydration and feeding care – one of the lower percentages reported. Rural health clinics are often understaffed and under-supplied. And many people in the rural areas live miles (often over foot paths) from the clinics that do exist.


Approximately 51% of Guatemala’s population lives in poverty as defined by the Guatemalan government. Fifteen percent are in extreme poverty. Due to a variety of factors, the poverty rate (at 75% with 275 in extreme poverty) is significantly higher among the indigenous population. The average income per capita is $2,680 (compared to $9,980) in Mexico and $47,580 in the US.

The labor market is divided into two parts – formal and informal. Employees in the formal sector receive regular pay in cash or check. Their employers also pay certain legally-required benefits and pay into the social security system for the employee.

Lives in Poverty
Income Per Capita

Those self-employed in the formal sector typically have a fixed place of business (e.g. a store) with a business license. Only 29% of the economically active population work in the formal sector.

The remaining 71% work in the informal sector, often as self-employed. They may prepare food to sell at a sidewalk stand to pedestrians, make colorful weavings to sell to tourists or tourist shops, or purchase manufactured goods in bulk to resell on the street or in an open-air market. Many are farmers; others are plumbers or carpenters looking for short-term jobs.

Micro-enterprise programs are designed to help very small businesses (typically 1-3 workers) in either sector to improve their profit margins and expand their businesses. This usually involves small loans (e.g. $50) and training in the context of solidarity groups made up of several business people. These programs have proven very successful in Guatemala and many other countries in helping the poor get ahead economically. Advance Guatemala is committed to working with programs of this type for the economic advancement of the country’s poor.

Guatemala Needs You.

We have the charities, the projects and the people ready to go. Now, we need your support. Together, we can build a better tomorrow for this remarkable country.