foundation escalera

Final Five Days of October’s featured charity fundraiser!

You can help me build a school in Nichnamtic, Chiapas which is located in southern Mexico near the Guatemala border. The village junior high is less than two years old and next year it will have almost two hundred students. For a village of only 2000 people that is a lot. That means every kid that can attend, is attending, and the reality is that there just aren’t enough classrooms. Let’s join together with Escalera and build a school for this village that is so committed to educating their youth.

For these final 5 days of October, I’m looking for 20 people to pledge $2 a day (a $10 pledge) to Foundation Escalera to raise $1 for each of the two hundred kids that will benefit from this school every year.

Join the cause and pledge your support at

Can you complete the Living Philanthropic mini-challenge? 31 days. $1 a day. 1 brand new school. 200 kids being educated a year. Pledge here: 

PHOTO: This is currently where teachers and students are holding classes in Nichnamtic. Despite the dark and damp conditions students are working hard to be the first in the village to graduate from junior high school. 

Let’s band together and build them a proper classroom.

Nichnamtic Expedition Update

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LIOTE! [leo-tay] That’s Tzotzil for Hello!

Happy New Year Everyone! I’m excited to back in Chicago, I had an amazing trip to Chiapas, Mexico over Christmas break. It was a truly wonderful experience.

To provide a quick wrap up, we built a 6 classroom school house plus a basketball, and installed 40 wood burning stoves in the homes of those most in need in the village of Nichnamtic. 

I spent most of my time working on the stove project this year, because it allowed me more time to meet with the people of Nichnamtic, to get to know them, to learn about how they live, work, cook, and eat.

The stove project was especially dear to me, my fundraising efforts and some of your donations covered the cost for 18 of the 40 stoves! So, I wanted to make sure they were installed properly, that the women knew how they worked and would put them to good use. 

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So, why install stoves? In most of the homes, the cooking is done over an open fire pit which tends to fill the kitchen or living space with smoke and carbon monoxide. This slow carbon monoxide poisoning can have a great effect on the development and health of the families and children in the home. Learning disabilities and respiratory problems can have an adverse effect on student’s abilities to concentrate and learn in school. The hope is that the mother’s will use the new stoves that vent the smoke out of the house or kitchens. 

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Will it work? My host family Crescencia (23) and Pedro (24) live on a very small plot of land with a humble living space and separate kitchen. They have 3 children Freddy, Juan David, and Irma. They lived in the States for one year before moving back to their home in Nichnamtic. Pedro’s work consists of migrating to Northern Mexico from March to November to cut calabazas (squash) for 40-50 pesos a day. That’s about $3-4 US dollars a day. The winter months are definitely the hardest, as it is too cold for their small crops, so money and food is tight. When I first arrived, their second oldest Juan David (2) was following his mother around as she would prepare food or coffee. The first thing I noticed was the smoke in the kitchen and Juan David’s pronounced cough, it sounded pretty bad, aggravated by the smoke. 

This is a very common scene across Chiapas, children spend their time with their mother when not in school, gathering wood, watching their mother’s cook, breathing in smoke. My team and I installed our stove, Pedro actually moved their big fire pit that they were using for cooking outside! That was a good sign! We came back later that night after installing more stoves and Pedro was happy to make room for us to sleep on the concrete floor of their house. 

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The next morning, I spent some quality time with Pedro learning about his life, his family, his work, his land. Meanwhile, Crescencia used the new stove to make us coffee and handmade tortillas, a good sign that she would continue to use the stove. On the last day, the poignant moment for me was noticing how the new stove was already helping Juan David, as we sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating tortillas, this little guy did not cough once! I knew in that moment, that this project would have a simple, yet profound effect. 

By the end of our expedition, the school was built and all forty stoves were installed and I was extremely proud of the team and work we accomplished together, over 60 volunteers from the US and 40+ volunteers in Chiapas came together for a great cause. 

I want to thank Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Anonymous donor Cyper for their $1,000 donations, and every donor who helped fund this expedition! You are amazing and your contributions made an impact!

If you would like to help fund a stove, please visit: or if you would like to fund a future school build, please visit:

For more information about Foundation Escalera, please visit:

For more photos, check out the Living Philanthropic page on Facebook:

Help me build another school in Mexico

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Calling all Living Philanthropic fans! I need your help to win GiveBack’s $50K for charity contest. I want to help SAVE the School Building Expedition for 2011!

Please go to and sign up for a new account and that’s it. If everyone does it, I will be able to donate $25K to Foundation Escalera to build another school in Chiapas, Mexico. The other $25K will be given to other featured charities on Living Philanthropic.

Time needed: 1-2 minutes to create an account.

Cost: $0

Impact Potential: Changing the lives of children for years to come.

Please go to and sign up for a new account and help me give children a safe place to learn.

About GiveBack.Org:

Start your foundation. Sign up for an account on GiveBack.Org and manage all your giving in one place, add your favorite charities, earn money by shopping, or make a donation. The best part is GiveBack.Org has simplified the tax receipt process and provide you with one receipt for your tax returns. Plus, you don’t have to share your mail or email with the charities if you prefer a more anonymous approach.

October Featured Charity: Foundation Escalera

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Last year I donated to an organization called Foundation Escalera, one of their programs involves expeditions to the neediest villages in Mexico to build schools as a way to combat poverty through access to education.  So last December I volunteered my time during the holidays to go to Chiapas, Mexico to build a school for some kids in need.

This year I am considering going back for Round 2! A new school, a new village, 200 more kids in need!

If you want to help me go build another school this year, please consider a contribution to Foundation Escalera. The first $1,000 in donations to crowdrise team page will be matched by Living Philanthropic’s amazing anonymous donor CYPHER! Also, the Mexican Government is matching dollar for dollar the amount raised for Foundation Escalera!

Foundation Escalera is a leader in providing educational infrastructure to indigenous villages in Mexico. This summer Escalera will embark on a new project to investigate the secondary education system and finalize an improvement plan for the local government. To this end Escalera is interested in recruiting highly motivated individuals to help support ground level operations in Chiapas, Mexico as a part of the Escalera Internship Program.

Make a contribution here:

How you can help!
$10 Student school kit (part of the ‘Incentives to Learn’ program)
$25 Back pack (for 'Incentives to Learn’ program)
$75 Buys a bike for a student to commute to school
$100 Classroom school kits (for 'Incentives to Learn’ program)
$250 Elementary school scholarship $500 Technical training scholarship
$850 High school tuition, room and board
$10,000 Build one junior high school classroom

Want to be a guest blogger on Living Philanthropic?
Join the team and donate to Foundation Escalera at & submit your blog post about why you made a contribution here:

Living Philanthropic was founded in April 2010 as one man’s mission to give to charity everyday for a year. This mission is built on a belief that you don’t have to be rich in dollars to make a difference; you only need to be rich in spirit. After completing his 365 day mission, the spirit of giving everyday carries on through his friends and in his mission to continue his micro-philanthropy for a second year. For more information, please visit:


Meet Esperanza from Nichnamtic. She is one of the 200 students that will benefit from the new school we’re building this month in her village. Watch this video to learn more about her challenges and newfound opportunities through education.

Pledge your support for Team Living Philanthropic at:

Sometimes giving everyday can be as simple as setting aside $1 a day for your favorite charity. This year, I’m donating my daily donation to my favorite charity: Foundation Escalera

I have spent 2 Christmas-es with them building schools and installing wood burning stoves with them in Chiapas, Mexico. I have seen their work first hand and have witnessed the impact we’ve made together! It’s truly inspiring. 

Foundation Escalera is privately founded for administration costs so 100% of the public donations made to the organization go directly to their efforts to improve access to education. 

If you would like to join my team, please visit:

For more information about Foundation Escalera, check our their: Website | Twitter | Facebook


Today (Feb 22) is my birthday and my only wish today is to share my love for Foundation Escalera and the work they do with you.  This past Christmas break, I went on my second school building expedition with Foundation Escalera. (You can read about it here.)

Please take a moment and watch the video above, it’s a snippet from the expedition video and in it I talk about the stove project and it’s importance to improving health and education. Your donations along with the donations from Live Nation/Ticketmaster last year paid for 18 of the 40 stoves we installed in December in Nichnamtic. 

If you would like to help me celebrate my birthday (you are too kind!), all I am asking for is one of 3 things, pick and choose what you’d like to do.

1.) Like Foundation Escalera on Facebook: 

or better yet Take the Pledge to stand with Students without Schools

2.) Share this video with friends on your facebook page and help me spread the word about the work Foundation Escalera is doing: 

3.) Consider a small donation to help us do more to improve education for students without schools: 

Thank you for all the support and kind wishes over the past 2 years. You are simply the best people I know!

Expedition Nichnamtic Update

I leave for Mexico in 11 days. In addition to the school we are building in Nichnamtic, Chiapas, we are installing wood burning stoves and water filters in the homes of those who need and request them. Here is the stove we are installing, it will consume 65% less firewood a year and prevent the build up of carbon monoxide inside their homes. The $2,000 donation I received from Ticketmaster & LiveNation will provide 20 homes a wood burning stove this winter. If you would like to pledge your support, please visit: