About Us

Our Core


Planting Seeds is a non-profit organization that seeks to eradicate the barriers that contribute to poverty by working with communities to provide high-quality comprehensive education for children and families throughout Guatemala.


Create a progressive, self-sustaining organization that improves access to and quality of education to develop healthy children, families, and communities across Guatemala.

Learn more about our work!

Our Founders

Susan and Richard Schmaltz are both experienced Canadian educators. In 1999, they moved to Guatemala following a feeling Susan felt in her heart. After seeing first-hand the face of inequality in marginalized communities across Guatemala, they saw an opportunity to contribute with their expertise in education. Susan and Richard dedicated the next 20 years of their life transforming early childhood education in Guatemala. To learn more about Susan's story, check out her book: Beyond Belief.

Our Story

Susan believed that learning should be fun and allow children to play, sing, explore and have autonomy of their learning. When education is done with love, children can grow into everything they are meant to be.

With support from Richard, multiple volunteers in Ottawa and Pembroke, and current Guatemalan Director Madeli Quiñonez, the Planting Seeds Methodology and Philosophy was born in 2001 and hasn’t stopped growing.

Where Are We Now

While we believe that early childhood education is the foundation to break the cycle of poverty, we recognize that our approach needs to be more comprehensive when working with such marginalized communities.

Through support from old and new friend circles, we have been able to expand the work that all regions do, focusing on providing access to books, training parents as primary educators, partnering with other organizations to meet basic health and nutrition needs, and providing complementary programming based on specific community needs.

Gabe Tobias: President; Brooklyn, NY
Aly Wallis: Vice President and Secretary; Chicago, IL
Leanne Van Bavel: Treasurer; Pembroke, ON
Wayne Moyle: Board Member; Ottawa, ON
Andrea Gómez: Board Member; Guatemala City
Sharon Workman: Board Member; Traverse City, MÍ
Mary Landi: Board Member; Chicago, IL
Matthew Linick: Board Member; Chicago, IL
Kim Mckenney: Board Member; Ottawa, ON
Mac Philips - Co-Executive Director of Planting Seeds International
Shannon Moyle - Co-Executive Director of Planting Seeds International
Madeli Quiñonez - Executive Director and Academic Director of Plantando Semillas
Martina Garcia - Academic and Pedagogical Coordinator of Plantando Semillas
Carla López - Academic Coordinator and Preschool Teacher of Plantando Semillas
Aner Minas - Administrative and Operations Coordinator
Arely Juarez - Development Officer
Diego Trujillo - Community Engagement and Philantropy Coordinator
Katy Samayoa - Communications Officer
Yaqui Cruz - Photographer
Blanca Hernández - Model School Teacher in San Lucas
Jenifer Soto - Model School Teacher in San Lucas
Wendy Pech - Model School Teacher in San Lucas
María Juana Armira Avila - Teacher in Tioxya
Merida Yucute - Teacher in Sacala
Norma Atz - Teacher in Sacala
Mónica Ramirez - Nutrition Program Cook in San Lucas
Linnea Ness - Enrichment Coordinator
Carlos Yos - After School Program, GoBoys!, and Men Group Facilitator
Eliza Mejicanos - GoGirls!, After School Program Facilitator, and English Teacher
Juana España Berna - Library Coordinator
Mirian Esquivel - Librarian
Suny Garcia - Motivated Women Facilitator
Brenda Morales - Motivated Women Facilitator
Vivian Santiago - Motivated Women Facilitator
Edgar Ixcoy - GoBoys!, and After School Program Facilitator
Katy González - Early Stimulation Facilitator

Our partners

Partners on the ground