Systemic Change: Chispa

The Girl Effect is an international phenomenon that is relatively unknown in Guatemala, which continues to rank last in the hemisphere in gender equity. Through creative networking with influential public and private sector leaders, we are amplifying the voices of Girl Pioneers in new spaces in Guatemala to ignite change.

Photo by Nora Logue

Photo by Nora Logue

How can a small organization transform Guatemala? We see this happening in two ways:

Girl Pioneers with formal influence

We know that the current and future graduates of MAIA are going to catalyze powerful change. Their voice has been absent from decision-making spaces for too long. A growing body of research shows how educated women positively influence a country’s environment, economic prosperity, health indicators, and security. As each Girl Pioneer finds her seat in decision-making spaces, Guatemala will be transformed into a more equitable and just country. Our goal is that the education of girls becomes the norm, not the exception.

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Scale our impact through partnership

Guatemala has tremendous needs. We approach this challenge with an abundance mindset centered on collaboration. Instead of expanding our own Impact School into unfamiliar regions, cultures, and language groups around Guatemala, we partner with organizations already immersed in these communities. The Impact School is designed to be an innovation platform where other actors in youth development can access contextualized best practices. Our impact scales when their services improve and we all act in concert to secure the inclusion of more young women in Guatemalan society.

As an innovation platform, we connect external innovators with organizations and schools from across Guatemala to create a community of learning. Our school was designed and built to facilitate this process. Large classrooms accommodate observers who take best practices back to their programs. Since 2016, over 40 organizations and schools have accessed innovations in an array of girl-focused trainings. In 2019, we will partner with the US Peace Corps to improve instruction in dozens of public schools.


One way we are transforming Guatemala is by opening up new channels of communication and sharing the importance of inclusion for development. Spanish speakers can enjoy reading some of our recent exposure in the media in Guatemala.

Mayan women as change agents

Perspective on Guatemala from the female Mayan point of view