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Rising Minds works with locally-run initiatives and cooperatives around Lake Atitlan, in the Guatemalan Highlands, helping improve incomes and quality of life for local people while teaching visitors about Guatemalan customs and development issues.

Too often, charities band-aid developmental issues with aid, perpetuating the very struggles they are trying to fight against. Though well intentioned, this does not give people living in poverty any sustainable means of income, so the problem persists. Handouts are not the answer to poverty or social issues, and can even be counterproductive by robbing the poor of their self-reliance. Rising Minds strives to understand the communities we work with as opposed to merely providing for them. We ask the individuals and communities we work with for their ideas on how they can empower themselves and promote self-worth and personal growth. We encourage and support grassroots, local organizing by Guatemalan people.

We believe in the resourcefulness of the Mayan people, but also in international co-operation. We have crafted a program of immersive volunteer programs to foster understanding between the developed and the developing worlds. Rising Minds volunteers experience meaning and purpose in their travels, while gaining an understanding of Guatemalan culture and social issues. Our homestay and crafts programs provide a chance to get to know Mayan people and traditions from the inside while helping to support local craftsmen and women. Our expedition programs weave together service, cultural immersion, and adventure.

U.S. programs such as our bracelet initiative, college chapters, and educational outreach create awareness for those who aren’t able to travel to Guatemala.

We help the Guatemalan people in projects that are sustainable, replicable, and enhance the life and livelihood of the local people and environment. These include women’s cooperatives, youth leadership programs, artisanal enterprises, schools, cultural centers and sustainable agriculture initiatives.

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