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Redmond Gives: How The Meso Foundation Elevates the Human Experience

By Redmond Life

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Redmond Gives: How The Meso Foundation Elevates the Human Experience

The mission of Redmond is to elevate the human experience. We accomplish this through how we develop our people, work with our customers and partners, and the impact our business makes on the world.

But we also do this through giving!

Redmond supports several other worthy causes around the world. We’re particularly drawn to projects that keep on giving, and whose effects ripple outward. We love to give to causes that empower people and help them become more self-sufficient, independent, and able to make their own contribution to the world.

We believe in the “pay it forward” philosophy of giving and receiving. When you receive, you’re able to give. We hope our contributions will help others pay it forward so the giving spreads far and wide!

Let’s take a closer look at The Meso Foundation, one of the projects Redmond supports.

The Roots of Meso

The seeds of the Meso Foundation started in the mind and heart of Guatemalan native Julio Salazar. From a young age, Julio felt called to help the people of his home country. He traveled to the U.S. for college, earned a degree in engineering, got a job at Compaq Computers, and started a family, but he never forgot this calling.

“Our dad saw poverty at a young age, lived in poverty himself, and had such a deep, compassionate, and empathetic heart that he felt like he just really just wanted to do something,” says Julio’s daughter Raquel Salazar.

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It took Julio a lot of trial and error to figure out the most impactful way to help his home country but he always knew that he wanted to do something that addressed the deeper causes of poverty.

“Our dad was an engineer, so he was a natural problem solver. He always tried to get at the root of problems. That’s just how his mind worked,” says Julio’s daughter Adriana Salazar.

In 1998, everything came together for Julio. He decided that the best way to address poverty in Guatemala was to develop an educational environment that not only helped children learn but made them feel safe and opened their eyes to what was possible in their lives. Shortly after, he received a phone call from a friend who had found a donor who was excited to provide the seed money to turn this vision into reality. Julio started the Meso Foundation (then known as the Rose Foundation) with the intention of building the best schools in Guatemala.

Today, Julio’s daughters Raquel and Adriana Salazar, and his son-in-law Tiu Yee, carry on his work and legacy at the helm of the Meso Foundation. The foundation still works to carry out Julio’s original vision and mission of creating a happier, healthier, more prosperous Guatemala by empowering the native people with education and opportunities.

Right now, the Meso Foundation fulfills this vision and mission through three main initiatives—Colegio Mesoamericano, a K-12 school that’s been serving students for over two decades; Project Indigo, an emotional intelligence curriculum that promotes holistic well-being in each child; and Pixel, a creative agency and social business that provides opportunities for local Guatemalan creatives and helps fund Meso’s educational initiatives.

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The Meso Foundation’s Projects

Colegio Mesoamericano

Colegio Mesoamericano, the Meso Foundation’s K-12 school, was one of the very first initiatives Julio got off the ground when he started the foundation decades ago. The school currently consists of 374 students (though Meso has a goal to increase that to 450).

The students of Colegio Mesoamericano come from all walks of life. Some students come from wealthy families while others have very little, but you’d never know that when you walk into the school. Students all wear the same comfortable uniforms, and there seem to be no cliques or divisions between students who have more and those who have less.

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One of our team members recently visited the school while on a trip to Guatemala with his wife, and he was immediately struck by the sense of peace in the school when compared to the hectic cities. “It’s like this quiet, peaceful oasis.”

He also noticed the powerful relationship between the staff and the students. “There was lots of hugging and a wonderful spirit of love there.” He also found out that many of the staff worked without pay during the pandemic. That’s some serious dedication to their students!

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Though students are divided by grades, students of different ages have lots of opportunities to interact, play together, and help each other. The cafeteria serves nourishing, healthy food. Everything about the school is dedicated to elevating the students in body, heart, mind, and spirit.

And when their time at Colegio Mesoamericano is over, many students go on to college. The school even has connections with Snow College in Utah, which is one of the top community colleges in the country. There are currently five alumni enrolled in Snow!

Pixel

When Raquel and Tiu met with Pixel’s now project manager, Wendhy, to discuss the school’s marketing needs, they knew immediately that she was the right person to help them turn their vision of creating a creative agency that supported Meso’s other initiatives into a reality. This then led to the question: how could a marketing firm help the school, beyond creating graphics and flyers?

Pixel was created not only to cover the marketing needs of various Meso Foundation projects but also to serve like-minded businesses outside of Meso. Redmond is one of Pixel’s largest clients!

This model allows Pixel team members to make a good living wage, and further profits from the agency go right back into funding the school.

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“This was created to be a win-win-win,” says Tiu, Pixel’s founder. “Pixel wins, Redmond and other clients win, and the school wins.”

Pixel’s slogan is to “create for good”. This isn’t just another creative agency. Pixel wants to not only provide a great service but also make a difference.

Pixel creates meaningful jobs for talented creators in Guatemala, where they can use their voices, be heard and seen, and contribute to their highest capacity. In an industry and culture where most companies expect employees to work overtime and do what they’re told without complaint or input, this is radically different in reshaping the work experience. “The creation of Pixel is realizing that gap of meaningful work in Guatemala. It’s a ‘what if’,” says Tiu.

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Pixel started small, with a project manager and two graphic designers. As more work has come in, the team has grown to 21 people with plenty to do.

“Here, we’re building something together,” says Wendhy.

Many of our Redmond business units work with Pixel. (In fact, Pixel designed the labels for the Re-Lyte you know and love, designs the emails that land in your inbox, published this article, and maintains this website!) The work changes and evolves over time, and they may shift their focus from one project to another. But they provide Redmond with great work from a company that understands our culture and shares our values, supporting our in-house marketers, designers, and tech team.

Pixel shares our philosophy of helping associates find and utilize their strengths and interests. They also do a lot of the same development and culture training you find at Redmond!

“We mirror each other,” Wendhy says. “If Redmond grows, Pixel grows, and helps Redmond in turn. This is not just about performance. It’s about how to be better at what we enjoy doing, and contributing in what we love.”

Project Indigo

Right before the pandemic hit in 2020, Raquel was working with other members of the Meso Foundation team to figure out Colegio Mesoamericano’s superpower. What made them stand out from the rest of the nonprofits and educational programs out there?

They landed on one area of focus that truly set them apart: emotional intelligence. The Meso Foundation’s educational initiatives were never intended to be strictly academic. They were intended to help kids develop life skills that were more intangible but just as (or more) important than hard skills like math or writing.

Raquel was working with psychologists to develop a formal emotional intelligence program they could pilot at Colegio Mesoamericano, and eventually share with educators and schools across the world when everything shut down due to COVID-19.

“We already knew the work we were doing for Indigo was important, but when the pandemic hit, and everyone was so isolated from one another, we knew children needed more help with emotional intelligence than ever,” says Raquel. “So we really started putting a lot of our energy into developing something impactful that could have a ripple effect in schools everywhere.”

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Currently, Raquel is working with Project Indigo team member and psychologist Céline Elise Steffi to develop a hands-on emotional intelligence-based curriculum that fosters exploration, play, learning, and growth to redefine education for children’s holistic development.

As they develop this curriculum, they’re making efforts to promote campus-wide mindfulness and integrate more core Indigo values, tools, and culture into the Colegio Mesoamericano classroom environment. They’re training teachers to facilitate emotional intelligence discussions with their students and also hosting a "School for Parents" program that empowers parents to manage the complexities of parenthood and emotional well-being.

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As Indigo continues to grow, Raquel and the Meso team hope it will foster a more emotionally conscious and empathetic education system (and world), where people are better equipped to navigate life's ups and downs.

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can help the Meso Foundation work toward its vision of creating a happier, healthier, more prosperous Guatemala. The foundation has a general scholarship fund program where you can commit to a recurring or one-time donation that helps fund a student’s education at Colegio Mesoamericano. Here’s more information about the scholarship program.

The Meso Foundation is also incredibly grateful to receive the help of virtual and in-person volunteers. You can learn more about its volunteer program here.

Even if you can’t donate or volunteer, there are simple things you can do to support the Meso Foundation, like following them on social media, sharing their posts and videos, and talking about their initiatives with friends and family.

We love supporting causes like this because the effects of education ripple outward, not only for the students but their families and communities as a whole!

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