Friends Respond to Emergency at Belize Friends School

Several months ago, FUM sent out an emergency appeal on behalf of the Belize Friends School, which was facing an unexpected financial shortfall and needed $37,500 in order to stay open for the remainder of the school year. Thanks to the generous movement of the Spirit among Friends, we’re excited to announce that, so far, we’ve raised $30,546.47


That’s close to what we need to keep the school operational for the entire 2019–2020 school year, and represents hard work and sacrifice on the part of Friends who have donated. At present, we will be able to keep the School open through mid-May, and only need $6,953.53 to finish out this school year.


We are so grateful to everyone who has been part of this labor of love. We were blessed with a gift from the North Carolina Fellowship of Friends, enthusiastically cheered the success of a Pasta Fundraiser in Ohio, and gratefully received the offering from a Christmas Eve service in Indiana. Together, we are making this happen.


As we look toward the future of the Belize Friends School, we have both excitement and uncertainty. Excitement, of course, because of the unique way in which our school shares the love of Christ with people on the Southside of Belize City. As Belize Friends Ministries Director Nikki Holland writes:


“What we offer is a holistic education. The students in our school each struggle with specific learning or behavioral challenges. We offer deeply personalized education that meets each child where they are, and our teachers tailor lessons to the students. That is fairly unique in Belize, where it's more common to have the lesson plan, students follow along or they don't, and then they are socially promoted whether they grasp the material or not (which is how we get teenagers in our school who don't know their alphabet).


We help them grow their character, we offer spiritual care and counseling, we connect them with community resources for mental health care and career development opportunities, and we are constantly looking for resources to help them access extracurricular activities. We genuinely love the kids who come to our school and our church, and we do everything in our power to help them meet whatever needs they have—not just their academic ones. I won't say that we are the only place in Belize City that cares for kids in this way, as I know there are other community organizations who think holistically. But I don't know of another school like this.”


We also have uncertainty, though, because continuing to fund the School on an emergency basis is unsustainable. A detailed analysis of the financial problems facing the School is available here, but to briefly summarize: the monthly cost of running the School is approximately $5,500. We have not been meeting this as a fundraising goal, and have been making up the difference with other sources of funds, such as the proceeds from the sale of the old building. Those sources of income are now gone, and we are faced with a need to raise the entire monthly amount through fundraising.


We do not anticipate that this will be a permanent situation. Staff in Belize, under Nikki’s direction, are working on a sustainability plan, including writing grants and developing other sources of funding. While we are working toward sustainability, however, we are relying on the continuing generosity of North American Friends who are committed to this work. We plan to provide Friends with regular updates, both as fundraising goals are met and as new funding sources are identified and secured.


We are also relying on the beloved community of Friends to support the Belize Friends School in prayer: not as an add-on to financial support, but as a primary means of support. We ask that you hold Nikki Holland and the staff of the School, Richmond-based FUM staff, and the Long-Range Financial Planning Group in the Light as we work to discern how the School will be moving forward. Please pray for wisdom, and patience, and creativity.


We welcome further questions and conversation. You may contact Kelly Kellum [kellyk(at)fum.org] or Eden Grace [edeng(at)fum.org], or your Yearly Meeting representatives on the FUM Board (if you don’t know who your representative is, you can find out here). In addition, Kelly will be happy to come speak to any group to make a presentation or answer questions and concerns.


Will you prayerfully consider making a meaningful gift today? If you would like to make a donation online, you can do so here by selecting Belize Friends School from the drop-down list.

Julie Rudd