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MAIA Impact School

The MAIA Impact School is Central America’s first secondary school designed specifically for Maya girls in rural Guatemala.

The MAIA Impact School is designed to connect the talents of rural indigenous girls with the opportunities of the 21st century. MAIA is redefining education in Guatemala by evidencing the transformational impact of highly educated Maya girls; the impact of same gender/race staff as the students; and how rigorous innovation and open-sourcing success can accelerate systemic change.

21st Century Skills


HundrED has selected this innovation to

21st Century Skills in Latin America and the Caribbean

Web presence






Target group
February 2020
"MAIA and its holistic education and empowerment program is the exact formula to change the world."

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Guatemala has the worst gender-equity gap in the hemisphere, and Indigenous Maya women experience levels of exclusion that make them among the most marginalized on Earth. In spite of global data showing the power of the “Girl Effect,” girls born into rural poverty are often considered “the problem.” Fewer than 20 percent of Maya women complete high school in Guatemala.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

The MAIA Impact School is redefining education in Guatemala. Some of the innovative features include:

Empathy-driven design led by the school’s leadership and faculty who mirror the same gender/race as the students. Educators receive 100+ hours of professional development each year.

Emphasis on crucial nonacademic content such as competencies, social capital, reproductive health education, financial literacy, and civic awareness.

Family engagement program provides socioemotional accompaniment to girls and their families and includes regular home visits.

Student-centered classrooms emphasize the mastery of seven competencies (critical thinking, excellence, resilience, growth mindset, vocal empowerment, cross-cultural code-switching, and negotiation).

Using technology to maintain academic momentum through remote learning during COVID-19 and as a tool to amplify their empowered voices through video and radio programs.

MAIA scales impact through partnerships and collaboration.

How has it been spreading?

MAIA is designed as an open-source innovation platform that attunes global best practices into the rural Guatemalan context. MAIA approaches development through an abundance mindset centered on collaboration and aims to scale by disseminating best practices that improve the impact of other organizations. MAIA has proactively shared innovations and trainings with 50+ schools and organizations and is an active member of two global networks: One World Network of Schools and She’s the First. Within Guatemala, MAIA supported the creation of three networks—The Colectivo, R.I.N.A., and REdI—that catalyze and coordinate efforts to push for greater levels of inclusion and prosperity for all. To read more on scaling through partnerships, visit

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Contact us! MAIA believes that through partnerships and collaboration we can have a greater impact and together work to make girls' education the norm, not the exception. MAIA has several elements that have been deliberately systematized to facilitate their adoption in other contexts: vocal empowerment curriculum, intentional instructional techniques, and socioemotional accompaniment techniques.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

The MAIA Impact School is an innovative school model that provides educational opportunities to girls born in indigenous communities and promotes the development of their 21st century skills. Their focus on gender equality is helping to reduce the gender gap in education in Guatemala, thus having a great impact in the area.

HundrED Academy Reviews

This school should be replicated in indigenous communities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. I’ve been so inspired to promote this among policy makers.

An absolutely lovely innovative secondary school to foster a spectrum of XXI skills of Mayan girls, including leadership skills and building life plans in collaboration with their families.

- Academy member
Academy review results
Read more about our selection process

Implementation steps

MAIA is designed as an open-source innovation platform

MAIA has several elements that have been deliberately systematized to facilitate their adoption in other contexts:

  • In partnership with SPEAK, vocal empowerment of adolescent girls is systematized and features a curriculum for secondary school grades.

  • Highly intentional instructional techniques designed for settings like rural Guatemala. These practices unify language, increase student engagement, and improve academic results.

  • Supporting the design and creation of a workplace culture that elevates expectations while honing staff and student mastery of 21st-century competencies.

MAIA has proactively shared various innovations and trainings with public schools, bilateral entities, and civil society organizations. In 2020, a civil society organization is replicating MAIA’s secondary school model to create a school in a remote region of Guatemala. Please contact us if you would like to explore a partnership or collaboration with us.

To read more about how MAIA is working to create systemic change for girls' education visit: SYSTEMIC CHANGE: SCALING IMPACT THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS

Spread of the innovation

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