Why we support Teach For All Global Network

Elisa Mansur, Principal
Daniel Uribe, Principal

In everything we do at VélezReyes+, we believe that Education and Leadership are extremely powerful pathways to creating a Latin America where everyone has access to maximize their potential. While we believe that Education is the fastest and most effective path to leveling the playing field, it is only by having talent density at the leadership levels that systemic change will be achieved.

Inspired by this belief, we always look for organizations that share that purpose. We have found a perfect alignment in Teach For All, Ensina Brasil, Enseña por Colombia, and Enseña Perú, organizations that invest in leadership development to address educational challenges in under-resourced communities across the region. And they have an essential and urgent task at hand.

2020 and 2021 were unprecedented years for students across the globe, including in Latin America. The pandemic has kept millions of students away from classrooms and school communities for the most extended period – 170 million students at COVID-19’s peak in 2020 -and has also increased the inequality gap for many families and communities across the continent. Poverty levels iin Latin America grew to 34% in 2020, and extreme poverty increased to 12.5%, affecting primarily rural communities, children and youth, and indigenous and afro-descendant populations.

To combat inequality in access to quality education, we believe in the critical role of teachers and educators who work with students on a daily basis. Research shows the positive impact of investing in improving teacher effectiveness, as it not only improves student achievement, but also reduces educational inequality between students from low- and high-income families. With this in mind, Teach For All and its partner organizations work to "develop collective leadership that ensures all children have the opportunity to reach their potential."

Through a flagship fellowship program, Ensina Brasil, Enseña por Colombia, and Enseña Perú recruit, select, and train recent graduates and young professionals to teach for at least two years in under-resourced schools and communities in each of the countries. During this period, fellows receive pedagogy and leadership training, mentoring, in-class observation, and feedback. Through 2021, the three organizations together selected, in very competitive processes, over 1,500 young professionals to their program.

The positive outcomes don’t end after the two-year Program. Once they complete their fellowship, participants are encouraged to continue working in education and social impact. Around 80% of alumni in the three countries pursue careers within these sectors after completing their fellowship program. Additionally, the three organizations have also expanded their programmatic approach to include training initiatives targeted at local teachers, including Enseña Perú´s ¡Qué Maestro! and Enseña por Colombia Conexión Docente initiatives.

For our partnership with Ensina Brasil, Enseña por Colombia, and Enseña Perú, the organizations will concentrate efforts in Caruaru and Cariacica (Brazil), in Amazonas (Peru), and in a new region to be determined (Colombia. They will implement an approach that leverages learnings from a successful collaborative initiative in the Peruvian department of Ancash. The goal is to create a local critical mass of educational leaders working together to address the main issues impacting education within a municipality or region. The critical mass will be achieved by running the flagship program with fellows, supporting alumni, training local teachers and principals, and engaging the local community of students, parents, and public and private organizations.

As a new organization, we are intentional about always coming more equipped with questions than answers, consistently looking for opportunities to learn from and with others. That is another reason why we are partnering with Ensina Brasil, Enseña por Colombia, and Enseña Perú. These organizations engage closely with education's real and day-to-day challenges through an on-the-ground network of educational leaders. We believe that the answers to our most urgent problems are not in a cozy office but instead on the ground where the action is happening. We truly admire the work of our new partners because of that!

Our goal to address inequalities in Latin America by increasing access to opportunities has led us to look for organizations' outcomes since day one. In that sense, our partners bring promising research and data. For example, a quasi-experimental study found positive effects of Enseña Perú’s programs on students’ reading, comprehension, and mathematical reasoning. Similarly, an analysis of Brazilian national exams from a specific city showed that Ensina Brasil’s fellows positively contributed to increasing academic results compared to the city’s average.

This partnership also represents our first multi-country grant which supports, at the same time, three organizations in three Latin American countries that will implement a shared vision but in different contexts. This is a relevant step for us as we at VélezReyes+ want to build a regional philanthropic platform that connects organizations and individuals and promotes cross-country learning and exchanges. Through that lens, we are also glad to be able to count on the expertise of the Teach For All network´s global organization, an international platform that, since 2007, has supported the development of 60+ non-profit partner organizations around the globe.

We are excited about the transformational life experiences fellows of these organizations will go through. We hope they’ll be able to develop empathy and a nuanced understanding of our children’s realities. We are confident these experiences will enable them to grow as compassionate leaders. They’ll be more caring and inspired to work towards our common good.