Featured Partner: Roots & Wings International

Jolkona takes considerable pride in its multitude of partnerships. The organizations we link up with are committed and compassionate. Roots & Wings International is one such non-profit that truly works hard for its cause, which is fostering educational opportunity for Guatemalan youth. A partner of Jolkona’s since July 2009, we are grateful for their passion and purpose.


Roots & Wings International began simply enough, with founder Erik Swanson in Guatemala on a post-college expedition. After spending several months teaching English to students and forming a connection with the community, though, those couple of months rapidly snowballed into a two year stay in Guatemala.

By the time he was done, Erik had worked as the director for El Instituto La Asunción, a junior high and high school. He even supported the college ambitions of the top two high school graduates – one boy and one girl – by singlehandedly funding their university scholarships.

Erik officially founded Roots & Wings International in 2004, making education the organization’s central mission. Illiteracy is a prevalent issue in Guatemala, with up to a 70% illiteracy rate in rural communities. By virtue of families basing their livelihood on predominately subsistence farming, the majority of children do not receive more than an elementary school education.

Photo Source: Roots & Wings Intl.


Roots & Wings International wants to change the illiteracy levels in Guatemala – but in a way which facilitates self-sustained development. The autonomy and agency of individuals within their own communities is paramount. Erik and those that work alongside him have seen first-hand that when given proper educational access, people in their local communities become best-equipped to lead, change, and cultivate their environment.

They are witnesses to short-term improvements in students’ lives vis-a -vis scholarships and tutoring programs. Long-term, though, it is the computer training lessons and college education that will sustain them in the future. Roots & Wings commented that, “many of our scholarship students intend to return to their home communities to be teachers, lawyers, or doctors…our mission is to improve overall educational opportunities to empower young people to promote development in their own communities.”


Roots & Wings International shared an especially meaningful story about one of their students with us. They recounted, “Manuela Tzep Lopez is one of our scholarship students nearing the end of her studies in Social Work…she is also working as a coordinator in a small community development organization.” Her diligent work ethic shines through brightly; “she is gaining valuable social work experience coordinating job training programs for young women and inmates.” By empowering the youth, Roots & Wings are providing them the education and tools they need to help others in the community.

Roots & Wings International is a trustworthy, industrious non-profit that deserves recognition. For individuals interested in making a positive impact on the lives of Guatemalan children, follow the link below for an easy, reliable way to do so. You can support computer literacy in the region by providing a month’s worth of training for as little as $5.

Give a donation through Jolkona via Roots & Wings International and improve a child’s education today.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest and keep up to date with all we are doing and the impact you are making.


Share it on

Leave a Comment