ONE Student ONE Family Program

The Zeke O’Connor School is tuition free for all students

One Student One Family is a student sponsorship program, matching Zeke O’Connor (ZOC) School students with Canadian and US donors. We facilitate school newsletters and program communications from the community to foster a real sense of connection with our students and sponsors.

ONE Program full sponsorship is $1000 per year, and covers tuition and school costs for one student, including salaries for staff and teachers (i.e. specialized math and science teachers), management and upkeep of the buildings and grounds, personal hygiene, laboratory equipment, library and reference books, school excursions, and sports and recreation activities.

Our goal is to have the ONE Program be the primary source of funding for ZOC School operating expenses, and we are one our way! Will you join us?

More about ZOC School

ZOC School History

The Zeke O’Connor School is named for the founder of the Sir Edmund Hilary Foundation of Canada and close friend and collaborator of Sir Hillary, the school is a tribute to the memory of Zeke and his significant contributions in service to the Sherpa people. Construction was completed on The Zeke O’Connor School in Phaphlu, Nepal in 2011 with the help of the Rotary Club of West Calgary, and the first students were welcomed that same year. It is currently the only school offering STEM education in the Solokhumbu (Everest) region. ZOC School educated children from Early Development (ED) through to the 12th Grade. There are currently 270 students enrolled, with 22 teachers and 4 support staff members. 

The ZOC School is tuition-free and is fully funded by the Sir Edmund Hilary Foundation

From its inception, it was designed to serve the poorest of the poor in the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. The children who attend are the offspring of the laborers including the Sherpa porters who carry the very heavy loads of travelers and climbers. Many students have parents who value education deeply but who themselves may be illiterate. These families are tremendously devoted to having their children receive the opportunities a quality education can provide. They make great sacrifices to have their children go to our school.

ZOC School is dedicated to the education of girls.

ZOC School maintains a student population that is more than 40% girls, which is remarkably high, particularly for such a remote area.

Parents traditionally sent their sons to school and had daughters stay home to help. Unfortunately, young girls in rural areas of Nepal are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking. Education and literacy are the pathway to a better future and help prevent human trafficking.

ONE Program FAQ’s

Why is this program called one student one family?

We believe that all people are interconnected, so while the Sherpa people of Nepal may be halfway around the world to most of us, they are part of our universal family. Each student is important and worthy, and the One Student-One Family program helps create bonds that span the globe and gives students who are eager to learn an opportunity to thrive. Together we are “ONE.”

Why sponsorship?

In Nepal, quality education at the high school level is costly and students from the poorest backgrounds often they cannot afford to go to school. Government run community schools (particularly in the rural areas) often see students leave before the 10th grade which is the critical year for completion to ensure the chance to secure meaningful work. Previously, if a student does not pass the 10th grade exam need to wait a full year to take the test again. The pass rate at the ZOC School is 100%. Now there is more emphasis on the 12th grade exam. It is very difficult to keep students in school beyond 10th grade, but ZOC has been more and more successful at retaining its students.

What commitment do sponsors usually make?

Generally, our sponsors commit to supporting their students from 8th grade until graduation from ZOC School (five years).

What does sponsorship pay for?

By sponsoring a high school student for $1,000, you enable us to fund operational costs including teacher and staff salaries, building maintenance and repairs, ground maintenance, school supplies including laboratory supplies and computer access, sports and recreational activities, and all the other essentials that our students need in order to succeed in high school.


Of course! Sponsors who commit to supporting a student through high school will receive updates, photos, and letters from their student and general updates from ZOC School. The relationship is two-way, and we ask that sponsors write letters of encouragement to the students they support.


Now that COVID restrictions are lessening, we are planning a trip for sponsors to visit the Zeke O’Connor School in Phaplu in the coming year. If you’re interested please contact Mary Kaye who can make sure you get updates as plans solidify.


We are developing a special DONATE NOW button on our website that is specifically for the ONE Program. For now, you can make your donation by clicking the DONATE button on our website and then in the section that says “MESSAGE FOR THE SIR EDMUND HILLARY FOUNDATION (OPTIONAL)” please write “One Student One Family Program”


Yes, your donation is 100% tax deductible both in Canada and the U.S. You will receive a tax receipt according to the country in which your donation was made. Thank you!