Becci Merritt is the president and board chairman of Nicolás Fund for Education, an organization whose mission is to empower Mayan youth to break the generational cycle of poverty in the Ixil region of Guatemala through Christ-centered education.
Their scholarship program helps communities in the Guatemalan Highlands lift vulnerable children — and their communities — out of poverty.
Funds received from donors provide scholarships which include tuition, school uniforms, tutoring, nutritious food, and transportation.
Nicolás Fund for Education was formed in 2012 and began by supporting 13 students. They currently support 150 and have since formed their own school that works with nine different villages.
They have also recently signed an agreement with a vocational school in Guatemala to offer their students a trade school option. With all of the generosity from donors and growth within the organization, Becci needed help.
And then came BELAY Virtual Assistant Leanne Sierra.
Before moving into this role, Becci was a registered nurse. She admittedly lacked knowledge about linking social platforms and executing social media posts. There was also a need to organize things in a way that documents were kept securely due to the legal requirements of being a 501(c)(3).
“Our BELAY Virtual Assistant is absolutely critical to our functioning and our success,” Becci beams. “[Leanne] helps us tell the story of Nicolás Fund for Education to our donors, helps us send out fundraising letters, helps keep our board organized by sending out the board packet in advance of board meetings and keeping our calendars, helps with our major fundraising event yearly with setting up and promotion, and she does graphic design for us.”
“I can’t sing the praises for Leanne Sierra enough.”
Leanne has been able to help Becci by updating and refreshing brand materials. She’s also been able to think outside the box to help Nicolás Fund for Education to shine. She helps carry out their mission and efforts by thinking about ways to help promote and aid in the success of their future events.
After the annual fundraising event, Leanne extracted data to create a digital learning report that will help pinpoint marketing and promotion efforts for next year.
She also has helped the board members save time by creating and providing them with a board packet that includes formal reports from the committees with the top three bullet points rather than a long narrative.
Leanne has proven to be optimistic and practical which has impressed the board members with whom she interacts on Becci’s behalf.
In working together, they have forged a strong friendship and Becci has gained confidence and capacity.
“She shows me how to reach more people so that I am as efficient with my time as I can be.”
“She’s helped me to find ways to delegate certain tasks to other people because I’m one of those people who tends to do it all themselves, and she has enabled us to have a way to collaborate through the systems she has set up.”
“She’s really a member of our team in the deepest sense of the word,” Becci says.
“We get along like a house on fire,” Becci says. “We are friends, she supports our mission, and she believes in what we are doing. I value her advice and her organization, and she is a lifeline for me.”