Partner Profile:

MAIA Impact School GUATEMALA

What I See

Guatemala has the worst gender equity gap in the Americas, and 60% of the population reside below the poverty line. Centuries of oppression (and a recent 36-year war) have pushed us—Guatemala’s Mayan women—outside the margins of society into generational cycles of poverty and exclusion.

Girls born into situations of quadruple discrimination (poor, female, rural, and indigenous) are often “destined” to lives of early marriage and motherhood where their talents remain undiscovered.

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We are tired of this population being perceived as the problem. We know that that, in fact, these girls are the solution.

We abandon incremental change and know that Guatemala urgently needs the talent and perspective of girls to address critical challenges now. MAIA’s Impact School is Central America’s first secondary school specifically designed for indigenous girls to unlock and maximize their potential to lead transformational change.

What I’m Proud Of

MAIA is already “proving the concept.” We are among just a handful of organizations of this size that is led and run by Mayan women from the communities it serves.

Our team is 95% Mayan and 83% female. We believe in the importance of investing in local talent to contextualize the work and to make it sustainable and replicable.

We are proud of the partnership we make with each Girl Pioneer and her family, because we achieve success with families, not in spite of them.

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We were the driving organization of the specialized court against femicide

Girl Pioneers are thriving and achieving high academic levels while also solidifying their workplace competencies, cultural identity, and commitment to empowering others.

MAIA is emerging as the innovation hub we envisioned. MAIA’s Impact School has been recognized internationally as the “Best School in the Americas” for our emphasis on inclusion and innovation. We are demonstrating the capacity of Mayan girls and local staff in an area too often considered “hopeless.” Young women from illiterate, “invisible” families can leapfrog over decades of incremental growth and unlock Her Infinite Impact.

I Feel Happy When

What drives us is the moment of “click” when talent meets the right opportunity. It is incredible to watch a centuries-old cycle of exclusion suddenly broken by one girl.

We now know that amazing things happen when you design a school specifically for indigenous girls from rural communities in Guatemala. Girl Pioneers are averaging two years of academic growth for every year of school at the MAIA Impact School.

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MAIA students and staff have received awards in Abu Dhabi, presented the Girls’ Bill of Rights to the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, led sessions at an international math conference in California, and regularly appear in national events throughout Guatemala. Girl Pioneers are bringing their voices and talents into the world and they challenge us every day to keep pace with their bold trajectory.

What’s Surprising Is

MAIA is not patient, and we are not designed for slow change in which each generation achieves slight improvement. We know that Guatemala needs new perspectives and insights now. We are determined to leapfrog 50-60 years in one generation through an intense, highly-intentional, integrated school experience.

This makes MAIA look and feel different from many other organizations. Our goal is for this generation of Girl Pioneer graduates to assert their leadership and talent in spaces where decisions are made.

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To do this, the MAIA Impact School must maximize the time we have with each Girl Pioneer and her family. Right now, we have almost 9,500 hours of contact with each Girl Pioneer during her time in the school. We have to be nimble to the emerging variables since this she and her family are truly blazing a new trail. Flexible funding is crucial to allowing MAIA’s team to maintain its responsiveness to the oncoming variables.

A Direct Grant

A direct grant put resources into the hands of a bold, powerful team of Mayan women who themselves are pioneers. Each girl and her family are truly blazing a new trail. So we have to be nimble to the emerging variables—variables that align the talents of Girl Pioneers with the right opportunities. Flexible funding is crucial to allowing MAIA’s team to maintain its responsiveness.

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What MAIA is setting out to accomplish is unprecedented in Guatemala. We seek investors who believe in the power of a young woman to change her world.

MAIA prioritizes depth over breadth. We strategically decided to work with a limited number of young women and their families because we are committed to supporting them holistically over the long term. We believe that, as female leaders, they will transform the community, country, and our world. Others will follow their example.

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