Long Way Home, Inc.

Non profit organization
(+1) 978 992-2331

Since 2009, LWH has nurtured an education ecosystem, connecting green construction, formal education, equitable international volunteerism, and active participation in 21st century problem-solving. Over the last decade, the LWH builders, staff, volunteers, and donors have transformed 550 tons of trash into a fully functioning K-11 school. In 2019, 77 K-6 students, 51 grade 7-11 students, 27 Teachers/Directors, and 9 builders were direct beneficiaries of CETC employment and education. An additional 400 family members of students and community members have been impacted through CETC’s Hero School curriculum. Our organizational goals and purpose are to continue this industry-leading and interdisciplinary work as well as to expand impact through the Hero School Model at CETC.

Women, Men, Girls, Boys, Indigenous peoples, Youth
Education, Youth, Health, Environment, Water and sanitation, Construction, Development/Community infrastructure, Leadership/Capacitation, Volunteer/Sustainable travel, Civil participitation and policy
Chimaltenango (San Juan Comalapa)

Organizational contacts & locations

Matt Paneitz
Executive Director
(+1) 978 992-2331
Werner Bal
CETC Director
(+502) 5134-7760
Tim May
Director of Nonprofit Development
Centro Educativo Tecnico Chixot, 
Sector Paxan
San Juan Comalapa, 

Mission, vision & values


Long Way Home (LWH) seeks to mobilize people to actively participate in democracy and create innovative pathways to economic and environmental justice, through green building, employment, and education. 


We envision communities equipped to innovate and act responsibly in the face of local and global challenges. 

We value the concept that there are leaders in all of us, that every person has a responsibility to fight poverty, that we learn by doing and lead by example. We believe ethical and responsible financial management lead to higher impact, that learning is a lifelong process and flows in both directions, and that our planet’s future is affected by our daily decisions.

Products, services, and programs


We offer clothing merchandise (t-shirts and sweatshirts), and our Green Building Manual - a 260-page text introduction to our green building methodology.


We earn service income through:

  • Individual and Service Group volunteer opportunities on our green building sites
  • Long-term Internships
  • A month long Green Building Academy
  • College Courses accredited in the US
  • Purchase and adaptation of our Hero School Model
  • Concept, design and build of green construction projects 
  • Impactful Travel Package
  • Tuition for attending CETC (local service only)

Our programs include:

  • Hero School Model at CETC - equipping Comalapan youth with the knowledge and skills to create and implement relevant and sustainable community development initiatives.
  • Green Building Academy - bringing in people from all over the world to learn our approach to green building for environmental and economic justice.
  • Volunteer Program - available to local and international volunteers - offering week to month long volunteer opportunities that facilitates equitable intercultural exchange and collaboration.
  • College Courses - available to local and international volunteers - academic study of the education and social justice philosophies that generated and drive the Hero School Model. 

Organizational detail

Number of employees: 
Private donations, Sale of products and/or services, Fundraising
Primary issue(s) / need(s) addressed

Democratic skill building for economic and environmental justice:

In 1992, government leaders around the world received a document endorsed by 1,575 of the worlds most prominent scientists (including 99 living Nobel science laureates) titled ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. To avoid causing “vast human misery” this document called for immediate action “to stop the ever-increasing environmental degradation that threatens global life support systems on this planet,” through a widespread transformation of human behavior. Data collection, specific to ozone and marine life depletion, freshwater availability, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth, led to a 2nd Warning to Humanity in 2017. The 15,371 signatories concluded that “with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.” The United Nations IPCC estimates that we have 11 years (and counting) to prevent further irreversible damage to the planet.

What exactly does “far worse” look like for a country such as Guatemala, one of the most war torn, crime ridden, malnourished, and impoverished countries in the world, when you add extreme and unpredictable weather patterns? Scarcity. Insecurity. Without a widespread transformation of human behavior we must expect an escalation of the vast human misery already present. 

Impact, adaptations & objectives

Impact to date

Since 2009 when campus construction began, LWH has repurposed over 550 tons of trash into a resilient and environmentally positive 18-building school campus that inspires environmental care. 

Since 2012:

  • 858 certifications of completion of studies have been issued to local low-income Comalapa youth.
  • 270 primary, elementary and high school local low-income students from Comalapa have enrolled at CETC and received an accredited, empowering, and democratically oriented education.
  • Over 30 local low-income teachers have been trained under progressive and education for sustainable development teaching methodologies and strategies including Deweyan Democratic Education pedagogy and project-based learning, furthering their expertise, knowledge, and professional abilities.

In 2017, when the new curriculum was implemented in grades 7-11, students constructed:

  • 39 smoke-efficient stoves
  • 25 water tanks
  • 4 compost latrines
  • 2 tire retaining walls. 

These projects address key local health challenges, repurpose waste, and generate student-led community development. 

In addition, meaningful, full-time employment is generated for local teachers and builders. In total, 390 community members have directly benefited from the CETC student projects.

In 2019 77 K-6 students, 51 grade 7-11 students, 27 Teachers/Directors, and 9 full-time builders were direct beneficiaries of CETC employment and education. 

An additional 400 family members of students and community members have been impacted through CETC’s curriculum. CETC issued 12 completion of studies to its first cohort of grade 11 graduates, allowing them to apply their Hero School skill set in whichever next path they choose. Currently, 3 graduates went directly into university, 6 graduates took 2020 to earn money in order to enter university in 2021, 1 graduate applied to the Civil National Police and is awaiting a response that was delayed due to the pandemic, and 2 students will be working in their family pupuseria business in Comalapa.

Almost 2,500 volunteers from around the world have been educated by CETC’s democratic education curriculum and green construction principles, through their involvement in school construction and support of student project construction.

Impact measuring

We measure out impact by tracking student enrolment, full-time and part-time employment, community projects completed, tonnage of waste repurposed in construction, and partnerships established to carry out public health infrastructure projects.

Organizational adaptations: 
Key offerings, Mission, vision and/or values, Funding model
Organizational adaptation details

Key offerings

Refined offerings and expanded others to meet the adapted mission, vision.

Mission, vision and/or values

Adapted mission, vision, values to reflect a more holistic, interdisciplinary approach to democratic participation for economic and environmental justice.

Funding model

Refined our portfolio of services and fundraising income sources to provide budget resiliency.

Short term objectives


Complete the Hero School campus construction at CETC to provide full capacity space for 350 students.


Plan for the 2022 refinement of the Hero School curriculum for grades 7-11 and expand to grades 1-6 while upgrading pedagogical and content training of teachers.


Re-start student projects and maintain quality learning in the recovery stage of the pandemic.

Long term objectives


Adaptation of the Hero School Model with partners around the world - partner in India and Zimbabwe are within the 5 year vision.


Refinement of the Hero School curriculum for grades 7-11 and expand to grades 1-6 while upgrading pedagogical and content training of teachers.


Comprehensive implementation of the student project process across grades K-11 for impact on local community health. Adaptation of the Hero School Model with partners around the world - partner in India and Zimbabwe are within the 5 year vision.