We Improve tomorrow was founded by Joanne Crompton, who spent 2 and a half years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Mayan community of Totonicapán (pronounced Toe-toe-ni-ca-pan) where the scholarship students live. She lived among these families and watched them struggle to educate their children. The children’s talent, curiosity and motivation to learn were compelling even though most of them could not afford to attend school. Either, families could not survive without the working income of their children, or it was not “their” year to be educated (due to the need to rotate children through school for financial reasons). Overall, parents and children of Totonicapán recognized the importance and significance of education, but economically could not afford to invest in it because their immediate needs required the children to work.
Most funding was provided by tourists to the area. As they left, Totonicapán they donated a portion of their travel money to local children so they could attend school. The concept of providing educational opportunity motivated some travelers to continue donating regularly long after their visits. As success stories were shared with friends and family, more people have been willing to donate the equivalent of a restaurant dinner to sponsor a child’s entire year of school.
WIT began with ten children. By working closely with community leaders in Totonicapán a board of directors was created. Scholarship criteria, selection of students, and an outline of WIT policies and initiatives were created. WIT continues to grow and recruits more scholarship recipients annually. Contributions to WIT provide a valuable opportunity for children in need of formal education, and they are tax deductible in the United States under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.