Kay “Cata” Sweeney was volunteering in Guatemala when the natural beauty of the country and of the fabric woven by the Indigenous women inspired her. However, she also saw an underlying problem- many of the women had not attended school nor did they speak the national language, Spanish. Many women longed for an education or to just learn new things. In addition, they wanted to earn money to provide an easier life for themselves and their families. Motivated by her experience, Kay established the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund.
When Kay established the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund the focus was on providing North American markets for the beautiful handicrafts that the women of Guatemala created. Since then the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund has evolved to provide scholarships, educational support, career and technical training, and microfinance loans to Guatemalan girls and women through its two premier programs; the Kateri Education Fund and Mission: Guatemala.
The Kateri Education Fund annually sponsors twenty young Indigenous women to allow them to remain in school beyond the primary grades.
Mission: Guatemala supports two women’s groups by providing leadership opportunities, asset-based support services and microfinance loans.
Today the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund is committed to supporting the education of Indigenous Guatemalan girls and women.