In 2013, a 16 year-old girl approached Luminarias co-founder and clinical psychologist, Franklin Polanco, with tears streaming down her face. Her father had denied her request to continue school, because the family's school funds were reserved for her brother. That meant it was time for her to marry and work.


Working with vulnerable youth throughout Guatemala, we kept hearing the same story: young girls weren't being given the chance to write their own stories.

According to the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, the odds are stacked against you if you're a Guatemalan girl—especially a rural, indigenous girl. We connect girls like these to opportunities that can transform their futures and improve their lives and communities. 

We give GIRLS choiceS

Our girls explore careers alongside professionals who spark their imagination and fuel their dreams. They learn piano, strum guitars, play soccer, take karate lessons, read books, make art, and watch movies with friends. They reflect on their journeys, make self discoveries, and grow more confident each day. 

Providing undivided, one-on-one attention requires us to keep enrollment to a minimum, but we do our best to expand our impact by inviting other girls from rural areas to participate in development workshops throughout the year.

We change Girls' lives for the better

"Luminarias" is Spanish for "luminaries." A luminary is a person of prominence or brilliance—she's someone who lights the way for others. We're on a mission to inspire stories of light. 

Help us write them.  


By Ben Kohler

Luminarias Board Member

My village has light during days
but as sun descends darkness reigns in my life
My home is of dirt floor, three rooms
with simple food and my family just scrapes by
When I turned eleven school for girls ended
though I wanted to continue
By sixteen most girls marry, have babies
and crowd in with their parents
My mother wishes me a better life
but cannot provide it
You come to our village, offer me hope
and mother sends me to Luminarias
Each day now I study, sing, work, play
and become strong, moral, courageous
The light you provide
I embrace and inhale
Now, though the sun descends,
light reigns in my life
I am Luminaria
and I will spread my light