Forum Academy was born out of Forum Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2006 by John Keffer. The Foundation is now wholly dedicated to educational projects in the central province of Coclé in rural Panama.
The idea 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. In partnership with Panama’s Ministry of Education (MEDUCA), additional teachers were hired for existing schools, buses were purchased to help students with distant commutes, and the first computers were installed.
A Natural Progression
Forum Academy (Academia Forum) was the natural extension of Forum Foundation projects. Following discussions with community leaders and educators, Forum Academy was created to serve a largely-neglected mountain region as well as be a beacon of hope: Children can have both the right and access to a world class education.