Skip to main content
Student Success

NC State Third Year Jack Rothacker Uses Entrepreneurship Skills to Help El Salvadoran School

NC State third-year student Jack Rothacker (back row, left) visited El Salvador on a mission trip this summer.
NC State third-year student Jack Rothacker (back row, left) visited El Salvador on a mission trip this summer.

Seven days is not a large block of time in the grand scheme of things. However, for NC State student Jack Rothacker, it was a foundational period. 

Rothacker, a Charlotte native, accompanied a group from his grandfather’s church – Highland Presbyterian in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – on a mission trip to El Salvador this past summer. Having attended an English-Spanish bilingual school in kindergarten through eighth grade, Rothacker always felt a connection to the Spanish language and culture. 

That connection was strengthened and deepened during that week in Soyapango, El Salvador, meeting with local church and school leaders and learning about their experiences. Rothacker, a third-year student studying business administration and Spanish, wanted to find a way to help the community and came up with the idea of building a new classroom out of thin air for the school he worked with, Juan Calvino. 

However, Rothacker, who is currently taking an Arts Entrepreneurship Course, ran into some problems when he learned that the popular fundraising platform, GoFundMe, doesn’t work with any banks in Central or South America. That didn’t deter him, however, as Rothacker, with assistance from Pamarah Gerace of Student Legal Services, applied for a 501c3 exemption from the Internal Revenue Service in September and received it in about 12 days. 

Rothatcker’s GoFundMe has now raised about $9,500 of the desired $23,000 for the classroom and has continued to work virtually with community leaders to determine their needs. 

“The fact that I’m able to do all this with them has made it even better,” Rothacker said. “The fact that I can get on Zoom with them and do business in Spanish, I’m learning so much. It’s been incredible.”

Rothacker explained that, while in El Salvador, members of the Reformed Calvinist Church of El Salvador (IRCES) took him and his group to see every part of their day-to-day activities. They informed them of the struggles the country has faced over the past several decades, including a civil war 40 years ago, violence driven by the MS-13 gangs in the mid-2010s and a current oppressive government that keeps citizens from access to the census. 

The group had dinner with leaders from eight churches and listened to them talk about their efforts to build up their communities. This level of closeness and seeing the people he met working so hard to improve their country and lives made Rothacker want to help. 

“It was very inspiring, and it was so cool to see people working against so many tough odds,” Rothacker said. “I think the fact that they treated us like really good friends that they’ve known for years made it even more special than it already was.” 

It was very inspiring, and it was so cool to see people working against so many tough odds.

Rothacker explained that the $23,000 target goal for his GoFundMe covers the cost to essentially build a classroom out of thin air. It will be a seventh-grade classroom for the Juan Calvino school, which currently only has kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms. 

The school leaders sent Rothacker a budget, $16,500 of which will go towards the cost of cement, sand, and hiring workers, and the other $5,500 is for the classroom materials. 

For Rothacker, however, seeing the final goal met and the classroom built won’t be the end of his involvement. He’s been working on a sustainability plan in Arts Entrepreneurship, and his plans include building a cafeteria for the school and increasing the number of $174/year scholarships for local kids to attend school. 

“We’ve got to continue pushing the limits on ways we can help.” Rothacker said. “The best thing that I hope comes out of this is that this is my life. I want to always work with this church and school, but I want to continue to find different people who want to join my nonprofit and just help the world, shift the priority of what really does matter in this world.”