Get Involved and Make an Impact!
Education Elevated, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is looking for dedicated volunteer board members to help support the organization's mission to empower communities in need through education. Founded in 2008 by Gerri Kier, Education Elevated is dedicated to supporting and promoting education and eliminating economic barriers in primary and secondary schools, specifically in the Chyangba Village in Nepal. Learn more about Gerri’s journey and her vision for the future of Education Elevated.
The Story Behind Education Elevated
In 2006, Gerri began working closely with a local Colorado rotary club and found her passion in helping communities in need. On one adventure with the club, hiking around Buena Vista, Colorado, Gerri met Pemba Dorjee Sherpa (Pem), who grew up in the Chyangba Village in Nepal. Immediately, the two, along with Pem’s wife Moni, had a connection. After months of hiking together, Pem convinced Gerri to trek Everest Base Camp and despite Gerri’s initial hesitation, the journey proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
However, Gerri felt that her journey to Everest Base Camp was meant to be more than just another trek - she wanted her journey to become something bigger than herself. After learning more about the Sherpa people she would meet along the way, Gerri decided to turn her trek into a fundraising effort to help support the local Nepalese villages. With an immense passion for education, Gerri dedicated her efforts to raise money for school children in Nepal after coming to understand the barriers many of the students face just to earn an education.
Left to Right: Gerri Kier, Greg Kier and Pem Sherpa
Through many discussions with Pem, Gerri found three recurring barriers prohibiting students in these rural Nepal villages from earning an education.
Not all school-aged children had a safe or accessible school, and many had to walk for hours to reach the nearest school, which was simply a stone and clay structure with dirt floors and tables and chairs for student work space.
Students in Nepal are required by law to have a school uniform. Oftentimes, the only barrier between a child and their education is that their parents are unable to afford the school-mandated attire.
In order to earn an education that will lead to better jobs and higher wages, Nepalese students need to learn English. However, the Nepalese government will not pay salaries for English teachers, leaving many students without this necessary skill and creating an unbreakable cycle in these communities.
The Work Continues
Since its founding in 2008, Education Elevated has focused all of its efforts on providing for the students of the Chyangba Village in Nepal. While Education Elevated has been part of this community for several years, its work saw a major upheaval in 2015 after Nepal was hit with a historic earthquake, which proved to be one of the most deadly disasters in the country’s history. The Chyangba Village was badly damaged, which included the schoolhouse that Education Elevated had built one year prior.
Without hesitation, Gerri and a team of volunteers at Education Elevated worked with the Nepali Relief Fund group out of Indiana and an architect from Kathmandu to build a new building using earthquake-resistant technology. In 2016, the teams who funded the project trekked to the village to dedicate the new schoolhouse. Despite the constant threat of earthquakes to the communities of Nepal, this remains the only earthquake-resistant school in the region, making it the most popular school on the Chyangba Mountain.
After coming to understand these critical needs, Gerri devoted herself to help the Nepalese communities overcome these barriers and created Education Elevated. After 18 months of hard work to get Education Elevated off the ground, Gerri and her first team of trekkers began their adventure to Everest Base Camp and then to the village of Chyangba in May of 2008. In their first trip, the Education Elevated team painted the village’s schoolhouse and leveled off the playground area to prepare for a dental camp to be set up by a California rotary club to provide critical healthcare to the village residents, something that is largely inaccessible by these rural communities.
Along with the new school, the team at Education Elevated pays for hostel-style accommodations to provide year-round housing for girls who live too far to walk to school every day. Gerri and her team believe that where a child lives should not impact their ability to earn an education, so the hostel works to host between 20 and 24 girls between the ages of five and ten for 10 months out of the year. Further, to help eliminate barriers to their education, the nonprofit hosts these girls at no cost to their families back home.
The Children of Nepal Need You
In order to make these goals a reality for the children in Nepal, Education Elevated relies on the hard work of volunteers who are passionate about helping communities in need, empowering students through education and providing safe and habitable communities for all. To continue empowering these communities, Education Elevated is looking for support from a dedicated team of volunteer board members.
Specifically, Education Elevated is looking for volunteer-led support at the upcoming 2023 Education Elevated Annual Fundraiser in June. This fundraiser is a critical aspect to supporting the village in Nepal, which costs about $25,000 a year to maintain. Proceeds from this year’s event will continue to support the girls living in the hostel in the Chyangba Village by providing housing, food and school expenses.
In addition, Education Elevated is looking for volunteer board members who can support the nonprofit and its goals through their skills, talents and networks. These board members are critical assets to the Education Elevated team as they help manage the nonprofit to ensure that it can continue its necessary work. The Education Elevated board meets three times a year, twice at in-person meetings and once at the annual fundraiser in June.
Are you interested in making a bigger impact in the world?
Can your talents and networking provide value to a nonprofit while also filling your cup with appreciation and gratitude? Join Education Elevated and be a changemaker in the world.
The Future of Education Elevated
Over the next few years, Education Elevated is dedicated to building more earthquake-resistant schools in the region surrounding the Chyangba Village. It is especially pertinent to build an earthquake-safe middle school that most children in the nearby villages can attend. Without an earthquake-resistant building, many parents do not feel safe sending their children to school, which leads to declining enrollments and a disparity in the level of education earned by these students.
Gerri and her team are planning the next trek to the Chyangba Village in 2024 and are thrilled to see some of the big wins they’ve accomplished over the last several years play out. Most recently, the team at Education Elevated was excited to hear that several young men, after returning to Chyangba from the trekking season, purchased a cow for their families, which indicates that they are going to stay and marry within the village, a huge victory for the Sherpa people. Over the last several decades, most children leave the village to work in the cities to earn a livable wage and many never return home. This phenomenon has led to immense declines in the Sherpa population, which is threatening their way of life, their community and their culture. Seeing young adults return to the Chyangba Village is a sign that the work Education Elevated is doing is giving back to the community and creating a more sustainable way of life which ensures the village can continue for generations to come.
״DREAM NO SMALL DREAMS FOR THEY HAVE NO POWER TO MOVE THE HEARTS OF MEN."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe