Who we are

About Us

Established in 2006 by John Keffer, Forum Foundation  is a non profit organization dedicated to supporting community development in the mountainous region of rural Cocle, Republic of Panama.

Our work is focused on increasing and expanding access to learning opportunities, by providing the support and tools communities can use to build a more prosperous future.

 

Mission & Vision

To expand and increase access to learning opportunities in the mountains of rural Cocle, by providing the support and tools communities can use to build a more prosperous future.

Work together with communities to make change meaningful and sustainable.

Our Core Values

  • Change should be sustainable.
  • Promoting digital literacy and cultivating life-long learning are fundamental for success and sustainable change.
  • We work with community leaders, educators, students, parents, and partners to ensure our support is meaningful and sustainable.

John Keffer, President

In 2006 John established Forum Foundation which, in local collaboration with Panama’s Ministry of Education, is wholly dedicated to educational projects in the central country. The idea for the foundation originated in 1966, when John was a Peace Corps volunteer. Today’s efforts build on the same spirit of contribution and determination to achieve community improvement that grew during those Peace Corps years.

Janet Robinson, Vice President

Janet began working with John in 2008 to help grow the Forum Foundation from ideas to a reality.  She served in the Peace Corps in Coclé, Panama from 1966-1968 after graduating from Kansas State University.  Janet holds a masters degree from the University of Arizona and has worked extensively in the fields of education administration and women’s issues.

Jair Guevara, Executive Director

Jair is the latest addition to the Forum Foundation team, joining the team in January 2020 as Executive Director. Combining his experience in the humanitarian and education sectors, Jair helps guide the Foundation’s strategic planning and implementation. Inspired by the impactful work the Foundation has accomplished over the years, he is passionate about using his skills and knowledge to contribute to the fulfilment of the Foundation’s mission.

Elvia Martinez, Project Coordinator

Elvia’s deep rooted ties to her home community in Cocle, Panama, have helped guide the Foundation’s community outreach programs. She is passionate about exacting change through community development and dedicated to creating educational opportunities for generations to come.

Heritage

Forum Foundation was established in 2006 by John Keffer.  Since its inception, Forum Foundation has had a significant impact through its dedication to educational projects and community development in the central province of Coclé, in the Republic of Panama.

The idea of the Foundation originated in 1966 when John was a Peace Corps volunteer in Caimito. There he developed, in collaboration with Prof. Ruben Dario, then the Minister of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, the first agricultural cooperative owned completely by farmers. With return trips to the area, John became convinced that the work had helped breathe new life into the community, as well as instilled a spirit of self-confidence and determination to carry out further improvement.

The Foundation began by working with community leaders in the mountains of Coclé to define the core needs of rural areas and to develop the most practical means of meeting those needs. Paramount among these are the expansion and improvement of secondary schools and public health centers in the region.

Working with Panama’s Ministry of Education (MEDUCA), additional teachers have been hired, new school buses purchased, and computers installed. The Foundation also started adult education courses in every community that computers were installed, helping spread computer literacy skills in the communities.

Dormitories were also built for students who might otherwise not attend because of distant journeys. As the work continued, the Foundation reached out to families and students in need of support to attend school. Granting scholarships and financial support for students to complete their secondary education. 

In 2012,  the Foundation began a study abroad scholarship program with the Hun School of Princeton New Jersey. The program gave students the opportunity to improve their english, experience world cultures, and prepare for the academic rigour of university. 

Three years later the Foundation created the Forum Academy. The first privately funded, non-profit International Baccalaureate school, the Academy  gave students from the mountainous region of Cocle, the unique opportunity to receive a world class education for the final three years of high school.

Committed to sustainable change, the Foundation started offering financial assistance, housing and guidance for graduates from the Academy as well as local schools to continue their education by attending university.

Unfortunately the Forum Academy closed after the 2020 school year was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although times are uncertain, the Foundation remains dedicated to supporting and promoting the spirit of change and improvement in the region.