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51 Sherbrooke W., Montreal, QC. Canada, H5Z 4T9.

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Funding Area: Education

Founded in 2008, MAIA believes that the best way to address the world’s challenges is through the education of girls. MAIA’s founders learned from the women’s microcredit movement in Asia and Latin America that education plays a pivotal role in breaking free of cyclical poverty and making informed choices. To address the numerous challenges facing girls, they recognized that the solution had to be holistic in nature and sustainable in its implementation. MAIA’s pillars of academics, community, and culture work together to create a deeply intentional support system for young women and their families to ensure they can break the cycles of exclusion and poverty that have gripped them for generations. Launched in 2017, the MAIA Impact School is Central America’s first secondary school specifically designed to connect the talents of rural Indigenous young women with the opportunities of the 21st century. The school draws from global best practices, contextualizes them into the rural setting, and proactively disseminates them among other educational entities. In 2019, the Zayed Sustainability Prize named MAIA “Best School in the Americas” for its deep commitment to innovation and inclusivity in education. MAIA was a finalist for the 2020 WISE Award for its ability to tackle traditional educational challenges. MAIA’s recipe for success and vision for systemic change hinges largely on its ability to productively collaborate to enhance and scale the impact of others. MAIA, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, currently serves 236 Girl Pioneers who are pursuing their secondary school education at the Impact School (grades 7-12), representing over 40 rural highland villages in the department of Sololá, Guatemala (Sololá is 98% Maya and has the second-highest level of poverty in Guatemala of 80%). We call students at the MAIA Impact School “Girl Pioneers” because they are blazing a new trajectory towards prosperity and equal opportunity.

Our involvement: The Marty Tomberg Charitable Fund has financially supported this organization.

Projects We Support

Project Flourish

Students at the MAIA Impact School are called Girl Pioneers because they are blazing a new trajectory towards prosperity and equal opportunity, despite being born into situations of quadruple discrimination as rural, poor, female, and Indigenous. Through 5 years of intensive studies and socioemotional accompaniment, Girl Pioneers graduate from the Impact School with high school degrees, becoming, for many, the first women in their family to reach this milestone. 

Project Flourish is a new program that centers on the design and creation of a post-high school “gap year” for Girl Pioneers that will secure access to and success in the formal economy for generations of young women in rural Guatemala. Through rigorous consultation with the key stakeholders in the vocation and education sectors, this project will map out and evidence an effective talent pipeline connecting rural Guatemala with 21st-century employment opportunities. With MAIA’s first cohort of high school graduates in October 2021, Project Flourish is a new 12 month program that will be piloted from January 2022 to December 2022 with 40 recently-graduated Girl Pioneers. The successful implementation of sustainable, long-term partnerships in this pilot program, along with Girl Pioneers’ “proving the concept” through their success navigating the university admissions and scholarship process and acquiring the skills and experience necessary for success in the 21-century workplace, will establish this pilot program as a long-term program beyond 2022. 

Support Dates: March, 2022 – March, 2023

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