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Hi, Kate! Thank you for the question. As Tricia wrote in response, WINGS is an important and current regional partner. There are also several partner organizations that already have or are working with CCFC, and that list is included in the attachments (Team Members section/list - Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Conservation Network, US Fish & Wildlife Service, University of Mary Washington to name a few) as well as on their website. Rob Cahill, CCFC co-director, was also able to provide the following list in response to your question: Centro Ak Kutan, a study center at the Dominican monastery in Coban that is going to donate a substantial collection of books to CCFC's library (resources in both Q'eqchi' and Spanish); Ak Tenemit, an organization that specializes in community-based tourism in Guatemala - especially in the Q'eqchi' language region; as lay Dominicans, both Tara and Rob Cahill cultivate relationships and the Ak Kutan is a center for researching in the area of culture, society and faith; the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) and Education (MINEDUC) - CCFC already partners with MINEDUC but hopes to deepen that relationship while MAGA has visited and will visit again soon with the hopes to establish a stronger partnership; and the American Bird Conservancy because of two endangered species that live in the region. This is a short list of current and potential partners, but as the programming expands and deepens in the region, additional partnerships will be pursued as well. We hope this answers your question and provides more information about past, current and future collaborations and outreach efforts. Thanks for asking!

Thank you for the opportunity to provide these responses to the great expert feedback above:

IN RESPONSE TO SUSTAINABILITY, IMPACT AND THE CHALLENGE OF RELYING ON EXTERNAL FINANCING: LPGM and CCFC are committed to the goal of sustainability. In CCFC’s WALC Program, this begins with each young woman. Peer teaching is promoted and utilized; program graduates are encouraged to return as teachers and leaders. Long-term goals of teaching agro-ecology and cloud forest product processing are to: empower young women to transform their communities and conserve the environment AND to utilize cloud forest products to make the WALC Program self-sustaining. The construction of a 1,500-ft2 production and environmental education center is underway; this will synergistically allow more young women to participate in the program and enhance production capacity. More information on the construction: More information on the business model for future development of cloud forest product economic sustainability is attached as CCFC DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN.pdf.

IN RESPONSE TO DESIRABILITY AND VIABILITY AND OUR ABILITY TO SHIFT SOCIAL NORMS: Indeed, there is a great deal of violence against women in Guatemala. CCFC and others CAN shift social norms, providing women with opportunities to invest in themselves, their families, and communities. CCFC works to empower women for this very reason, teaching them about women’s rights and violence prevention. Empowered Guatemalan women are more likely to possess the means to do what is necessary to leave a bad or difficult situation, to care for themselves, and to improve their situation. WALC is a critically important opportunity for young women within this cultural context. As they learn about themselves and their potential, they are empowered in all aspects of their lives.

IN RESPONSE TO FEASIBILITY AND POTENTIAL FOR SCALE AND BECOMING SELF SUSTAINING THROUGH INTERNATIONAL SALES: CCFC is striving toward financial self-sufficiency; external support is required for the next five years to achieve it. GHR support will assist with two important aspects of CCFC's vision. First, it will allow the WALC Program to accept every woman who walks down the mountain in hopes of joining the leadership training program. The WALC Program has grown annually, and CCFC wants to continue to accept all interested women; this requires intentional funding. However, the program’s unique beauty is the individual investment in and subsequent personal growth of each young woman. CCFC could potentially double its current WALC numbers, but there is a limit to scaling up given the program’s personal nature. Second, it will propel the program to become more financially self-sufficient. Funds will support program development, the completion of the production and education center, and the development of an international sales plan which will lead to long-term financial sustainability. Partnership is critical to achieve this, and LPGM’s transformational travel opportunities are also important to program success and long-term viability. Together CCFC and LPGM can develop a direct market access that links local producers in remote villages with young women doing value-added vocational training and then with congregations across the U.S. The WALC Program is also replicable globally. The concept of identifying environmentally endangered areas and working alongside communities to protect the environment, empower young women and improve communities can be replicated in any area where threatened biomes and poverty intersect. For further prospects regarding international sales, refer to the attached file CANDLES.PDF which summarizes what is theoretical but also a partial reality.

IN RESPONSE TO RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS DONE TO CONNECT INTERNATIONAL SALES TO FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY AND WORKING AGAINST THE ‘FOR THEM’ V. ‘BY THEM’ MENTALITY: For further information about international sales and financial sustainability concepts, please see the attached CCFC DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN.pdf. LPGM and CCFC are organizations founded on the cornerstone of partnership and are committed to work that is "by the people" rather than "for the people." In all LPGM partnerships, we pursue the accompaniment model, striving to "walk alongside" our global partners. The CCFC partnership exemplifies and enriches this model. CCFC partners both with US and local Guatemalan organizations, always with a goal of empowering the Q'eqchi' Maya community. This plays out practically when CCFC staff visit WALC alumni, see their homes and hear their stories of applying their learnings in their family lives and communities. It is also demonstrated when WALC graduates become spokeswomen, passing on knowledge to younger peers and local school children. LPGM and CCFC believe that partnership and empowerment are not just organizational values but also key methods for doing healthy, sustainable international development work.

Thanks for your question, Melinda.  It's an important one, and something that CCFC has taken into consideration throughout their time and work in the region.  There are two quotes that came to mind in response: “It is impossible to separate culture from nature.” – Tariq Banuri – Director, Division for Sustainable Development/CSD Secretariat AND “The mountain was here before we were and will be here long after we are forgotten. Do not be fooled, we are children of the mountain.” – Alfredo Choc – village elder of the community of Sesalche’.   Both of these speak to the need to consider and integrate the Q’eqchi’ Maya traditions and knowledge into the work of CCFC not only to honor the knowledge and wisdom that already exists but to ground and build from existing successful practices locally.  CCFC's approach has been exactly that - learning and building from existing traditions and practices.  There is more on their website about this:, and I hope you'll get a chance to review that information. Thanks for letting us clarify this a bit, and thanks again for your question!