MU Engineers Without Borders eletrification project in La Comunidad de la Nueva Providencia, Guatemala

Marquette engineering project a regional finalist for national philanthropic award

ONLINE VOTES NEEDED TO ADVANCE IN COMPETITION

The Marquette University chapter of Engineers Without Borders has been selected as a regional finalist for the CLASSY Awards, the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country.

The Marquette chapter is being recognized for its work in helping provide electricity and other improvements to a rural community in Guatemala for the past five years. Marquette students, faculty and mentors have been traveling to La Communidad de La Nueva Providencia to help villagers improve their community. The Marquette project is one of five Midwest regional finalists in the Small Charity of the Year category.

The project is currently soliciting support through online voting to advance to the national stage of the CLASSY Competition. To vote for the Marquette project, visit go.mu.edu/muclassy. The online votes account for half of a team’s score; the remaining half is based on votes from previous CLASSY Award winners.

Providing sustainable electricity to the Guatemalan community has been a main focus for the villagers to create a healthier community and support economic opportunities. Without electricity, villagers burn kerosene and candles in homes, which is a health risk as the byproducts can cause chronic pulmonary disease. Lack of light also limited the opportunity for adults and children to read and study. During the past five years, the chapter has helped the villagers install solar panels and solar powered LED lights in homes and outdoors, and build a bridge. Future plans include installing a turbine and generator, and building the necessary infrastructure for a micro-hydroelectric system.

Rachel Beyer, a College of Engineering junior and project lead who has been to Guatemala three times, said the project isn’t about providing electricity but building relationships. “When we go, we work side-by-side with the villagers. It’s not us doing service for them, it’s us working together to bring them electricity or build a bridge, whatever the community determines it needs.”

According to the CLASSY Awards website, it is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country, celebrating the greatest charitable achievements by nonprofit organizations, socially conscious businesses and individuals worldwide. Five regional finalists are selected for 16 categories. Online voting will continue through July 26. Regional winners will be announced on July 31. National CLASSY winners will be announced Sept. 22 at an awards ceremony in San Diego. National winners receive consulting and fundraising support from eBay Giving Works, PayPal and eBoost.

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