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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.

How does your innovation work 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 https://www.maiaimpact.org/systemic-change.

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
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process


Women Breaking Stereotypes
Guatemala is a country in dire need of new talents and perspectives. Yet, with the worst gender equity gap in the Americas, women, especially of Indigenous ethnicity, are not given a chance to flourish and actively catalyze powerful change for a more equitable and just society.Click here to read full article:  https://hundred.org/en/articles/women-breaking-stereotypes#317d00df
MAIA - 2021 .ORG Impact Award Winner - Championing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The .ORG Impact Award Championing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion recognizes an organization or individual for efforts toward furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion in society through the creation of policies, programs, and initiatives that address systemic challenges and historic injustices. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Dc98Q8rkDo 
Conversatorios Tzijonem — MAIA
Tzijonem: Voces de Cambio (means “discussion” in Kaqchikel) is a series of live discussions between Girl Pioneers and public figures including thought-provoking analysis on current events, culture and identity, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.https://www.maiagt.org/tzijonem-1
From Guatemala to the World: Girl-Centered Remote Learning
Girl Pioneer, Wendy, and MAIA Impact School Director, Vilma participated in the International Youth Foundation’s Our Future, Our Voices conference. Their presentation showcased our Girl Centered Remote Learning model.October 2020https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26KAM2mKE0M
During COVID-19 school closures, Indigenous girls increase access to books in rural Guatemala — Assembly | Malala Fund
By: Elvira, Maria Florinda and Yessica | October 30, 2020"Elvira, Florinda and Yessica share how they’re creating libraries in their communities to help other Indigenous students continue to learn during the pandemic."https://assembly.malala.org/stories/indigenous-girls-increase-access-to-books-in-rural-guatemala
“Transforming Indigenous Girls in Guatemala into Leaders”
by Johana Vazquez "The MAIA Impact school is a breakthrough for the education of indigenous girls in Guatemala. Education has the power to change nations and these girls are the change. They are making changes right now even amid the pandemic. They are future politicians, journalists and scientists, who will be the voices for their underrepresented communities. Education has the power to transform lives and every girl deserves the chance."https://www.borgenmagazine.com/indigenous-girls-in-guatemala/ 
Women as Actors for Climate Change in Guatemala
By Rebecca Contreras, SDG Research Lead"MAIA...illustrates the vital role that women and girls can play in climate adaptation and risk mitigation." https://medium.com/una-nca-snapshots/women-as-actors-for-climate-change-in-guatemala-aea24142b1f6
From Social Distance to Social Impact: Centering Girls’ Education in a Global Pandemic
MAIA's first-ever documentary, filmed from home by Girl Pioneers and MAIA’s team. From Social Distance to Social Impact: Centering Girls’ Education in a Global Pandemic captures a unique moment in time, accompanying Girl Pioneers through their journey during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this documentary, we learn about the tools they use while studying from home and the support Girl Pioneers receive from their families, educators, and mentors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsr-cVZ7iiA&t=2s
MAIA wins MIT SOLVE Prize for Girls and Women Innovators
MAIA was selected out of 422 applicants from 80 countries as a winner of the MIT SOLVE Prize for Girls and Women Innovators! This award is an exciting opportunity for MAIA to showcase our work on an international scale alongside other global changemakers, and to receive recognition for our innovative approach to holistic education in rural Guatemala. SOLVE is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. SOLVE is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation challenges, SOLVE finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. SOLVE then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting transformational impact.   MAIA’s winning project is called Amplify Her Voice; Maya Girl Pioneers in Guatemala break a culture of silence through an empowered voice amplified by technology. One of our core principles is centering Girl Pioneers’ empowered voices, and an unexpected result of the pandemic has been gaining increased connectivity in the rural communities themselves. Internet-equipped tablets cut through the centuries of barriers that have kept girls’ voices and talents hidden, such as difficult topography, remote villages, absence of basic services, and now COVID-19. This innovation represents the ability to equip Girl Pioneers leapfrog in the areas of academic growth and advocacy. Even when classes resume, Girl Pioneers can accelerate their academic trajectory via access to online content. More significantly, with this innovation, a Girl Pioneer can now interface with and produce information in ways that Guatemala, both rural and urban, has never before seen.   MAIA is thrilled with this opportunity to highlight the incredible talent and responsiveness of our team in Guatemala. 
MAIA Impact School's 1st Middle School Graduation 2019
In Guatemala, only 25 percent of indigenous girls continue their studies beyond middle school. Over the past three years, we have seen the first class of Girl Pioneers overcome adversity and stigma to become resilient, innovative, and ambitious young women who know the power of their voice and the importance of their role in shaping their communities. They are creating a future for themselves that was unimaginable to previous generations and in January 2020 they will start their first year of high school.MAIA Impact School's 1st Middle School Graduation 2019https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbP-17vevXM
Zayed Sustainability Prize 2019
MAIA was awarded the 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize for being the most “innovative and inclusive” school in the Americas. https://zayedsustainabilityprize.com/en/
New Family Pledge Ceremony at the MAIA Impact School 2019
In Guatemala, only 25 percent of indigenous girls continue their studies beyond middle school. Over the past three years, we have seen the first class of Girl Pioneers overcome adversity and stigma to become resilient, innovative, and ambitious young women who know the power of their voice and the importance of their role in shaping their communities. They are creating a future for themselves that was unimaginable to previous generations and in January 2020 they will start their first year of high school.
Her Ambitious Dreams
In 2020, MAIA launched the first year of high school at the MAIA Impact School. The high school is designed to ensure students gain the knowledge and skills they need to live a choice-filled life after graduation and achieve their dreams.Her Ambitious Dreams (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0amoz2DUnGw
Her Bold New Trajectory
When you think about countries that thrive, there is one thing they have in common: they invest in and maximize the talent of their entire society. In too many places across the globe, girls reside outside the margins. Now, more than ever, the world needs their talents.Young women represent Guatemala and the world's greatest resource. They are not the problem; they are the solution. They are the talent that just needs opportunity. Step inside the life of a young indigenous woman at the MAIA Impact School. See how her life changes when she has access to a high-quality education that is designed to set her on a bold new trajectory and instill within her the knowledge, skills, and competencies she needs to thrive in the 21st century.Her Bold New Trajectory (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG90-t_Szm0
Family Engagement - Home Visits with a MAIA Mentor
At MAIA, we achieve success with families, not in spite of them. In addition to bimonthly parent meetings, every family receives at least one monthly home visit to ensure that families are learning alongside their daughters and are creating a new shared vision of a better future.MAIA Family Engagement Program (2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6Xq2Jit6_o&t=9s 

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

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