Changing Lives Through Education: Pencils of Promise and 2U in Guatemala


2U CEO Christopher Paucek and fellow 2Utes unveiling the surprise dedication plaque for the first 2U-funded school in Bosta Costa, Reposición Mocá Primary School.

Changing Communities

2U’s core business focuses on delivering the world’s best online degree programs, and we have brought high-quality education offerings to students around the world who may not have otherwise had access. But in much of the world, there is a basic need that our programs can’t address — a need for infrastructure and primary education.

To address this global concern, we partnered with Pencils of Promise (PoP), an organization working in developing countries to change lives through increased access to quality education. We committed to raising funds to construct three primary schools in the Boca Costa region of Guatemala. In June, we reached our fundraising goal and sent a group of 12 employees on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see the positive effects of our hard work in person.

Being able to see and experience the positive impact of PoP's work in Guatemala was something that will stay in my heart forever. When we visited the villages we could see that these schools not only are educating the youth, but also are bettering the community as a whole.  – Cristina Shepherd, 2U Senior Admissions Counselor

 1) 2U employees at Barrios I Primary School in Boca Costa, Guatemala, celebrating the opening of a new PoP school for the community. 2) Students from the Boca Costa community. 3) 2Utes pose for a quick photo after breaking a sweat pouring cement flooring for new washrooms at Xolcaja Primary School. 


Community gathering for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new PoP washrooms at the 2U-funded Reposición Mocá Primary School.

A group of students and their teacher sitting in their new 2U-funded PoP classroom for the first time along with 2Utes, Colleen O’Day and Ashley Garcia.

In the U.S., every community has access to educational opportunities, but this is not so in the developing world. The schools 2U helped build in Guatemala will not only offer children a safe, clean place to pursue their education, but will also serve as a facility where children can do things that we find commonplace, such as washing their hands, using the toilet or working indoors.

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery. – Horace Mann

All the 2Utes who traveled to Guatemala were humbled and inspired by their experience. We truly believe education can create meaningful outcomes anywhere, and working with Pencils of Promise has been a great way to further that belief. We are excited to announce that we are extending our partnership with Pencils of Promise going into 2016, and we plan to fund at least three schools in Ghana next year.

A Personal Connection to Guatemala: A 2Ute Shares Her Story

Meet Abigail

One of our employees, Abigail Garcia, grew up in San Sebastián, which is about an hour away from the location of the 2U-funded schools. We spent some time learning more about Abi’s experience growing up in San Sebastián and talked with her and our CEO, Christopher Paucek, about the PoP field trip to Guatemala. 

I always saw myself walking up that dirt road and at the end of that road was my education. – Abi Garcia, Office Assistant

Everyone Has a Story: #myEDUstory

Inspired by Abi’s story, we are asking employees across all 2U offices to share their own stories of how education has impacted their lives. Over the next few months we’ll share these on our 2U stories Medium series and here on this blog as well.

 How has education impacted your life? Share your own story and tag it with the hashtag #myEDUstory.