Worldfund has partnered with high-quality schools in poor communities in Latin America since its founding in 2002, providing them with infrastructure and operating budget grants, as well as links to management and technical assistance. Worldfund's partner schools of excellence encourage leadership, personal responsibility, civic engagement and ethical values. In addition to high-level coursework, they also offer special services to meet the particular needs of impoverished children and their parents.
Worldfund has financed student scholarships, teacher salaries, computer rooms, expansions, and capital improvements at its partner schools in the following countries:
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Circulos de Leitura (Instituto Fernand Braudel)
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Reading Circles were created as a much-needed supplement to public school education for poor adolescents living in high-crime communities in Greater São Paulo.
Participants are between the ages of 12 and 19 years old and come from families in which parents have an average of four years of schooling.
During the weekly after-school and in-school sessions, reading is taught through literature and small group inquiry-based strategies that rely on strong peer leadership and mentoring. Materials covered include The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, Huckleberry Finn, The Little Prince and Robinson Crusoe.
The program’s goals are to develop the students' critical reading, writing and interpersonal skills in order to help them get into university and to improve their work opportunities.
In 2006, the Brazilian university enrollment rate among students from the bottom two economic quintiles (based on household income) was 9%. The Reading Circles participants fall into those two quintiles, and 80% of the high school senior participants took the university entrance exam and 75% of those students were accepted to universities in 2006.
The Fernand Braudel Institute of World Economics was created in 1987 by a group of economists, business leaders, journalists and public officials. It conducts research, organizes community projects and promotes public debate in search of solutions for the institutional problems of Brazil and other Latin American countries. The following articles present the Institute's findings from a comparative analysis that was funded by Worldfund of the public school systems in New York City and São Paulo:
Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré (REDES da Maré) was founded in March 2007 with the mission to improve the quality of life and transform the culture in Rio de Janeiro's Complexo do Maré "favela" (slum) through education, health, job training and cultural programs.
Maré is one of the largest and most dangerous favelas in Rio. Among the myriad problems plaguing the area is the lack of educational opportunities for its 140,000 inhabitants. Sixteen public grade schools and three public high schools serve the residents of Maré and surrounding communities, leaving many young people without access to an education.
As a result, only 1% of the population in Maré has a university degree compared to 25% of the population throughout Rio de Janeiro.
Recognizing the lack of access to and poor quality of educational opportunities, REDES da Maré offers the Pre-Vestibular Course for students preparing for the vestibular university entrance exams.
Three groups students are enrolled in the nine-month, five-day-a-week, four-hour-a-day intensive course that includes Math, Portuguese, Science and Spanish sessions.
Forty percent of the students who completed the 2007 course passed the highly competitive admission exams for the coveted spaces at Rio de Janeiro's public universities. The complete results from the 2008 exams will be available in August 2009.
Teaching critical thinking through the arts in Mexico
Amiga Cartonera is an art-centered program with the objective of training educators to develop students' critical thinking skills through creative engagements with literature.
The launch of Amiga Cartonera in July 2008 was a collaborative effort by Worldfund, the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, the Mano Amiga de Chalco School and HABLA.
Worldfund and Harvard University's Cultural Agents Initiative partnered in November 2007 to introduce an art-centered literacy and critical thinking instruction program, Cartonera (“Paper Picker Press” in English), into the Mexican primary education system. The two organizations collaborated with Worldfund’s partner Mano Amiga school network, and in July 2008, Worldfund, Cultural Agents and HABLA launched Amiga Cartonera at the Mano Amiga de Chalco School in the State of Mexico.
The Amiga Cartonera pilot program began with an intensive one-week course for teachers and teaching artists, and provided on-going practical training in conjunction with an after-school program for underprivileged primary school students during the 2008-2009 academic year.
The instructors of the week-long course included Doris Sommer, a Harvard faculty member and the Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative, Maria Fernanda Gonzalez Rojas, an international education consultant with the Cultural Agents Initiative, Kurt Wootton, a founding director of the ArtsLiteracy Project at Brown University and HABLA, and María del Mar Patrón Vázquez, a founding director of HABLA.
Participants were selected from among teachers and artists in the community, and included six Mano Amiga teachers, four local artists, and two Mano Amiga de Chalco academic coordinators. Special guests included Mano Amiga de Chalco high school students and alumni, and representatives from the Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART) and the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA).
The instructors presented the Cartonera teaching techniques through hands-on activities involving poetry, dance, acting, painting, drawing, sculpture and photography, among other art forms. Celebrated artist Pedro Reyes spent two days with the group, and participants worked with Mr. Reyes and graphic designer Eduardo Barrera to design posters which were printed on a traditional printing press. All of the activities were based on Jorge Luis Borges' short story, The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths.
In September 2008, the teachers and teaching artists began to incorporate Cartonera units into the Amiga Cartonera after-school program. During the fall semester, five 12-student groups were each led by a Mano Amiga de Chalco teacher. The groups met after school for two hours, twice a week, for ten weeks. Rotating teaching artists worked with each of the five groups for four sessions, leading an interpretation with a different art form. All of the staff members involved in the program received guidance and feedback from Doris Sommer during the fall 2008 semester.The teachers and artists applied the innovative Cartonera techniques again during the spring semester with 60 new students.
About Cultural Agents Initiative and Paper Picker Press ("Cartonera"):
The Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University is a network of academics, artists, educators and organizations that develops arts-based projects that engage social scientists and individuals concerned with the material well-being of underserved populations. Its Paper Picker Press program trains educators to develop students’ higher order thinking through creative engagements with literature. Paper Picker Press provides teachers with units of instruction that invite economically disadvantaged students to explore literature by rewriting classic texts through practices that incorporate visual and performing art is based on the observation that the arts activate and affect individuals and groups, making the arts important resources to address stubborn social challenges, such as illiteracy and indifference to learning.
Paper Picker Press was inspired by Eloísa Cartonera, an informal publishing venture that was established in Buenos Aires in the wake of the 2001 economic crisis. The first Cartonera “publishing house” recycled cardboard into beautifully decorated, one-of-a-kind covers for books that contained previously unpublished materials by some of Argentina’s best writers. Cardboard pickers sold the material to the workshop and were eventually incorporated into the book-making process.Book sales supported some of the city’s poorest residents.
In 2004, the venture was replicated in Lima, Peru, but Sarita Cartonera faced the added challenge of developing readers to sustain the publishing project in an area with alarmingly low readership.To address this issue, an educational initiative was designed in which students were encouraged to rewrite excellent literature from several points of view and historical contexts, and thereby to take possession of the text. Readership increased in the schools that adopted the Cartonera.
Recognizing the potential of this unique instructional method to develop students’ higher order thinking, the Cultural Agents Initiative worked with the founders of both projects to translate Cartonera into Paper Picker Press, and added a range of artists as interpretive guides to the chosen text.Today, Worldfund and Cultural Agents are bringing Cartonera back to Latin America, beginning with the Mano Amiga school network in Mexico.
About the Mano Amiga de Chalco School:
Mano Amiga de Chalco educates 934 impoverished students in Valle de Chalco Solidaridad in the State of Mexico, and has been a Worldfund partner school since 2004. Please click here for more information about Mano Amiga de Chalco.
The launch of Amiga Cartonera was made possible by generous donations from Jeb and Columba Bush and the Mex-Am Cultural Foundation.
Worldfund's work would not be possible without the following ongoing corporate and foundation partners: