Our mission is to support art, education and the environment in Guatemala.
Our vision is to build a more creative, educated, prosperous and environmentally-friendly Guatemala.
New Roots Foundation's Core Values are grounded in Lissie Habie’s unique perspective and approach to education and art and are committed to the values that underlie the Guatemalan experience.
COLLECTIVE Belief in the value of social capital: the ability to forge connections and collaborate for impact across networks, societies and systems
EMPATHY Respect for differences: the ability to define that “space of difference” and a profound respect for what distinguishes and unites people
HERITAGE Reverence for memory: the ability to research the past and connect history to contemporary life and culture
SUSTAINABILITY Commitment to the future: the ability to build vision, skills, and relationships that endure
Lissie Habie and Mitchell Denburg were a young couple with a small family when they set up New Roots Foundation in Antigua, Guatemala in 1998. They had travelled through Guatemala, seen much of the world and knew that they wanted to give back in a way which combined their humanitarian aspirations to create education-based and community-led sustainability initiatives.
Born in Guatemala City in 1954 and raised in the throes of its Civil War, Lissie was sensitive to the widespread poverty, illiteracy and lack of opportunity that plagued her country. In 1978, she helped an impoverished young woman named Juana Solís pursue her education. With Lissie’s support, Juana accomplished her goals and now serves as a distinguished jurist in the Guatemalan appellate court system.
With the aim of creating socioeconomic development in Guatemala through education and environmental conservation, Lissie and Mitchell set to work immediately with their first project, Creceré ("to grow" in Spanish).
For Creceré, they built a one-room schoolhouse on their land in order to provide ten young girls from impoverished and unstable communities a safe and healthy home. Their youngest daughter Jamie would also attend the school and receive the same critical, bilingual education as her “sisters.”
Lissie and Mitchell witnessed their girls grow into independent, educated, creative and ambitious young women pursuing their dreams. The success of Creceré motivated Lissie and Mitchell to affect change on a larger scale and they never looked back, funding projects to create socioeconomic development through sustainable agriculture and reforestation in some of Guatemala’s most at-risk communities.
After battling brain cancer for several years, Lissie Habie passed away in 2008. To honor Lissie's life and unique philanthropic vision, New Roots Foundation has been providing opportunities for artists and supporting education through art since 2013. Our new building within an artisanal textile factory will provide artists, curators, educators, students and the local community with cultural programming, residency opportunities and studio and exhibition spaces.