Palapa Learning Center of Todos Santos – Open House on January 4th, 2017

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Open House on January 4, 2017

By Kathy Warnert and Ann Hazard

A major expansion is underway at the Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C. Construction on the Palapa Learning Center, the largest project ever undertaken by the Palapa Society, has reached the mid-point. When completed, it will dramatically transform the lives of even more local youth and their families.

At the construction site of the learning center. copyThink back, if you will, to your formative years when a pivotal person stepped in, or an opportunity arose that was life-changing. It helped shape who you would become for the rest of your life. Perhaps it was a teacher or coach, a family vacation or early passion, a live performance or inspiring event. These milestone moments, and the adults who helped make them happen, impacted and influenced who you are today. Every young person deserves these same positive influences and opportunities. The Palapa Society aims to provide them to our local youth through the new Palapa Learning Center.

Let’s Celebrate!  Please help us ring in the New Year with an Open House on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 from 3 – 5 pm. That day we are opening the site of the future Palapa Learning Center to everyone. Enjoy refreshments, meet the Director, and tour the three buildings under construction. We’ll have bilingual docents on hand to provide information on how each space will be utilized. Meet the people behind the scenes whose hard work and dedication are making this dream a reality.

Why the expansion? The Palapa Society began in 2002 with the Bridge to English (Puente) Program, then housed in a small home downtown. The program caught on and soon a larger space was needed. In 2012, Peter and Chloe Buck generously provided the current building for a five-year period. The Palapa Society grew to six programs including:


  • Puente Program with over 120 students from elementary to high school learning English
  • BECA program offering over 60 High School and 20+ University scholarships
  • Adult English program with 50+ students annually
  • Community Library with over 6000 books and hundreds of videos in English and Spanish
  • Art Program
  • Eco-Kids
  • Chino program serving children with health challenges

The Palapa Society also provides community support. For example, after Hurricane Odile, emergency supplies were provided and over 200 roofs replaced. Additional, on-demand needs are also fulfilled in real time.

A major step in the evolution of the Palapa Society occurred in 2015 as a result of a significant donation from a local couple, Cindy and Dave Higgins. The Higgins’ identified a need to not only expand the space for current programs, but also offer a more rigorous education option to community youth by creating a middle and high school.

The Palapa Society’s Response: Build, staff and operate a high quality, SEP-certified middle and high school in Todos Santos. Scholarships will be granted to students of merit who lack financial means, thus equalizing the playing field for all students to attend. “We are so grateful to the Palapa Society for all that it is doing to make the Palapa Learning Center a reality. Over the years we’ve watched how they’ve made a difference in Todos  Santos and are proud to support this next chapter with the Palapa Learning Center,” says Cindy Higgins.

Where is the project today? The land has been purchased, all three buildings are underway, a Director of Schools has been hired, curriculum written, and the first class will begin in August of 2017.

This is exciting and life changing on many levels. Young people in Todos Santos will have opportunities they could never imagine before. Long-term, we expect young adults will want to return to Todos Santos after university, start businesses and raise families, thus retaining our community’s intellectual and economic potential.

Palapa Society President, Erick Ochoa says, “Through education, the Society has helped local families pursue of a better life for their children. With the help of the Higgins’, we are able to offer another solid option. We are witnessing how investing in the education of our youth is making this an even better place to live.”

We hope to see you at the Palapa Learning Center Open House on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 from 3 – 5 pm. We are located on Calle del Huerto (by the fish taco stand bypass) next to Aliser Grocery in Todos Santos. We welcome everyone in the community to attend.

For more information or to DONATE, go to and click the DONATE tab. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online or at Bancomer.


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