About the Project
This project is one of the 2020 WISE Awards finalists.
The Impact School is the only school of its kind. It takes direct aim at what has for too long been perceived as “the problem” and reframes it as “the solution.” For centuries, Mayan girls and women have been trapped in intergenerational cycles of poverty and exclusion. With just 10% of Maya girls completing high school, many fall into predictable cycles of early marriage and motherhood that perpetuate poverty and exclusion. Guatemala has the hemisphere’s worst gender equity gap, and Maya girls are the furthest outside the margins.
MAIA abandons the notion of incremental change. Opened in 2017, the MAIA Impact School, Central America’s first secondary school specifically designed to connect the talents of rural Mayan girls with the opportunities of the 21st century. MAIA is redefining school by fusing rigorous academics, a whole-girl approach, and an empathy-driven design. Designed, led, and run by women from the same communities as the students, MAIA evidences sustainable and replicable impact.
In spite of the many challenges, success is tangible. In 2019, MAIA was recognized by the Zayed Sustainability Prize as the “Best High School in the Americas” for its high degree of inclusion and innovation. Today, MAIA students average two years of academic growth for every one year of school. The innovative family engagement program secures a 95% annual retention rate. MAIA faculty and students have represented MAIA on stages at the UN, and in Abu Dhabi, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador, and New York.
The Impact School is designed as an innovation hub. International innovators introduce cutting-edge methodologies that are acquired, tested, contextualized, and shared out by MAIA’s dynamic team. Over 40 organizations accessed improved practices in 2019. MAIA is assembling a wide network of organizations, companies, and public schools that can drive for wider-scale change throughout Guatemala.