Forum Foundation supports community development in rural Panama by creating opportunities for higher education. The mission of the Foundation is to expand and increase access for residents in the mountainous regions of Coclé.

We believe in the importance of working together with the community leaders, educators, and parents where projects take root. Our goal is to provide the tools that every community can use to build a more prosperous future.



Foundation Forum was established in 2006 by John Keffer. The Foundation is now fully dedicated to educational projects in the central province of Coclé in rural 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 has since worked 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. Dormitories were also built for students who might otherwise not attend because of distant journeys. The Foundation also started adult education courses in every community that computers were installed so that all may become computer literate.

The Foundation is dedicated to supporting and promoting the spirit of change and improvement in the region. The Foundation operates on the firm belief that these changes are sustainable.


John Keffer

In 2006 John established Forum Foundation which, in local collaboration with Panama’s Ministry of Education, is wholly dedicated to educational projects in 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

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.

Elvia E. Martínez

Project Coordinator
Elvia brings twenty years of teaching experience to the Forum Foundation along with deep rooted ties to her home community in Coclé, Panama. She is passionate about exacting change through community development and dedicated to creating educational opportunities for generations to come.