Centro Ignacio Ellacuría

Empowering and Forming Central American Leaders

Our world needs conscious, compassionate, and committed leaders in facing the complex problems of today. You can help support the development of those leaders in Central America by supporting the work of Centro Ignacio Ellacuría (CIE), an academic formation center at the Universidad Centroamericana: José Simeón Cañas’ (UCA).


CIE builds upon Santa Clara University’s global education program, Casa de la Solidaridad, and is directed by Casa founders and former co-directors, Trena and Kevin Yonkers-Talz. Over the last 20 years, Casa became widely recognized as a leading international educational model within Jesuit higher education, with exceptional achievements:

– 93% of former Casa students reported that their Casa experience was in the top two most meaningful experiences they had in college;
– 99% of former students reported that the Casa experience assisted them in their personal development and in discovering their vocation;
– In 2015, Casa received the Legacy of the Martyrs Award from the Ignatian Solidarity Network for its “longstanding commitment to educating students about social justice issues in Central America.”

Building on decades of transformative educational experiences that the Casa program provided North American students, the UCA launched CIE to provide similar experiences to Central American faculty, staff and students.

Praxis-Based Learning in the Ignatian Tradition

In the spirit of the UCA martyrs, CIE offers Central American students the opportunity to address the complex issues that face their countries today by integrating rigorous academic analysis with direct experiences of people living on the margins. CIE gives students the unique opportunity to address the Central American reality, not only intellectually but also through accompaniment of the lived experience of the marginalized, an opportunity largely missing from the formation of many Central American leaders. CIE’s educational approach begins with a preferential option for the poor. That is, the teaching and learning at CIE is rooted in solidarity with those on the margins—those in society who are excluded, disadvantaged, and whose dignity has often been violated.

CIE Programs

Casa de las Américas: a semester-long study abroad program for students from Jesuit universities in Central America, which integrates accompaniment with those living in poverty, rigorous academic reflection and study, living simply in community, and fostering spirituality;

Programa Ellacuría: a 5-week formation program for UCA students to learn about the national reality through direct contact with people experiencing the impacts of poverty;

International Solidarity: Centro Ignacio Ellacuría works to promote international solidarity in El Salvador by welcoming academic groups and people connected with Jesuit institutions from around the world who want to visit, engage with and learn from the people of El Salvador.

The formation of future Central American leaders in solidarity, accompaniment, and empathy has the potential to drastically impact the future of the region. Complex social issues that exist today cannot be solved through academic study or accompaniment alone. CIE utilizes a model that incorporates the two in a way proven to have lasting impact on the vocations, decisions, and thought processes of students that participate in the program – thereby changing the work and world they enter after college. Please join us and be a part of that change.

To learn more about CIE, visit: www.uca.edu.sv/cie (En español).