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Our Story

The mission of Starfish is to unlock and maximize the potential of young women to lead transformational change. Right now, we believe the place where this change is most needed is Guatemala, which has the unfortunate distinction as home of this hemisphere’s greatest gender inequity.

Founded in 2008, Starfish teamed up with a few local individuals and embarked on changing the lives of the indigenous girls of Guatemala. We saw that these girls were largely outside of the education system, illiterate, and stuck in a cycle that positioned them as overlooked citizens in their own communities.

We knew that only 14 percent of rural indigenous girls in Guatemala completed 6th grade and we knew that 3 out of every 5 indigenous Guatemalan women were illiterate. We also knew that Mayan girls were at the bottom of every measurement of human development. We aimed to change this and in turn help improve the lives of the entire Guatemalan population.

The Starfish name (previously Starfish One-by-One) originated from the parable of the starfish. We appreciated and valued our ability to influence change by simply “throwing one starfish back into the ocean.” Through our work, we now understand our mission is far greater, and our responsibility is more deeply embedded in the livelihood of the girls, their families, and their communities.

Our goal is to create truly meaningful and long-lasting change. The name still works—Starfish are among the most resilient creatures on earth.

Our vision is empowerment, equality, and opportunity for all.

We have abandoned the idea of incremental change and patience as a virtue. The need is far more urgent than this allows. Instead, we challenge ourselves to unleash, in the near term, the potential of a select group of Guatemalan Girl Pioneers.

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