IDB Lab, Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures launch an innovative EdTech programme

The EdTech programme aims to help connect Brazilian schools and EdTech companies, to promote the use of EdTech in schools and reduce learning gaps in maths and Portuguese

IDB Lab, Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures launch an innovative EdTech programme

The three organizations are investing $2.36 million (approximately R$12.4 million) in the EdTech programme, impulsiONar, which will help connect public school districts, non-profits and education technology startups to develop pedagogical and digital solutions.

Brazilian education was severely affected by the COVID pandemic, largely due to school closures. Now, the challenge for public school districts is to reduce learning gaps, increase student interest and keep children in school, even without in-person teaching. impulsiONar is an initiative of the Lemann Foundation, Imaginable Futures – an international philanthropic organization focused on learning – and the IDB Lab, the innovation arm of the Inter-American Development Bank Group. The project is being carried out by Quintessa, a startup incubator, and Instituto Reúna, an education non-profit. impulsiONar will offer educational and technological solutions for Brazilian municipal networks to reduce and prevent learning gaps in Portuguese and Mathematics for students in grades six to nine.

Together, IDB Lab, the Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures will invest $2.36 million (approximately R$12.4 million) in the EdTech programme, of which IDB Lab is donating $700,000, and $1.66 million will come from the Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures. The resources will be used in initiatives to promote the use of technology and innovation in public schools and to build models that municipal and state school districts around the country can replicate.

Educational organizations will help implement the EdTech programme, assist with teacher training, and help put together technological educational resources adapted to remote teaching. The main objective of impulsiONar is to connect edtech companies with public school districts and teacher training organizations to develop pedagogical and digital solutions. Currently, there are 449 active edtechs in Brazil, mapped in StartupBase.

Between 9-25 June 2021, teacher training organizations were invited to apply for the program and nominate a public school system to take part. The EdTech programme will initially be implemented in six school districts. Applications were open to networks from across Brazil, with 50% of spots earmarked for systems in the north and northeast of the country. In the second half of 2021, applications will open for edtech companies. Teaching networks will conduct the selection process for these companies.

The initiative comes at a particularly challenging time for Brazilian education. Last year, the number of students at risk of dropping out of school tripled and the rate of learning dropped 72.5%, according to an IDB study carried out with students of the São Paulo state network. The impact of the pandemic is estimated to be of similar magnitude throughout Brazil.

For the IDB, this initiative will demonstrate, in practice, the power of digitization and innovation in tackling longstanding issues, including access to education, that have been exacerbated by the health crisis. This is one of the pillars of Vision 2025, the IDB Group’s strategy to support the economic recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Pilot Project in Minas Gerais

The Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures have developed a pilot project with the state government of Minas Gerais. This will run for four months in Minas Gerais, Brazil’s fourth largest state and one of its most populous. The pilot project is expected to benefit more than 150,000 students from 300 public schools in impoverished areas.

It will be implemented by Brazilian edtech Movva. Guilherme Lichand, co-founder and chair of Movva, is a member of the Lemann Foundation’s Network of Leaders, a group of more than 600 civic-minded Brazilians working to solve Brazil’s biggest problems. Last year, Movva won in the “school dropouts” category at the Global EdTech Startup Awards, the world’s largest startup competition. The company uses ‘nudgebots’ to send students and their caregivers text messages encouraging children to attend classes or study.

In this pilot EdTech programme, messages will be sent to students from approximately 300 state schools in Minas Gerais.

Denis Mizne, chief executive officer of the Lemann Foundation, said:

“We need concrete actions in 2021, as we have a high risk of school dropout and students are struggling to learn remotely. In a survey we commissioned from Datafolha, 73% of educators said they plan to increase their use of technology in teaching. In other words, technology is here to stay in education and can help us to reverse the gap in student learning caused by the pandemic.”

Fabio Tran, venture partner at Imaginable Futures, said:

“We believe in the strength of innovation and collective action to face the challenge of growing inequality in education in Brazil, accentuated by the pandemic. We are excited about the launch of this program, which fosters collaboration between startups, education departments and educators. It is also an important program to consolidate our partnership with the Lemann Foundation and IDB to support the Brazilian innovation ecosystem.”

Gabriela Bonotti, director of Quintessa, said:

“Quintessa has been accelerating impact startups (including edtechs) for 12 years. impulsiONar is a great opportunity to use innovative solutions to address an urgent problem. This type of initiative, which is unprecedented for us, has the potential to transform Brazilian education for the better. Our role will be to help connect all stakeholders, offering our knowledge and expertise to facilitate the program’s implementation.”

impulsiONar builds on the Lemann Foundation’s extensive work implementing innovative EdTech programs to improve education. Since last year, with 180,000 of Brazil’s schools closed, the Foundation’s #PeloFuturoAgora (‘For the Future Now’) initiative has ensured nearly a quarter of Brazilian schoolchildren – nearly 13 million students – had access to remote learning. Utilizing apps such as YouTube and Google Classroom, it provides free, high-quality learning tools on every type of platform. One #PeloFuturoAgora initiative, AprendiZap, brought remote learning materials to more than 150,000 students via WhatsApp. This was especially important considering that only 39.4% of Brazilian households have access to a home computer and of the 133.8 million people who accessed the internet in 2020, 77.6 million did so using a mobile phone. The Lemann Foundation has also been working to improve internet connectivity in schools. Its Connected Education Meter records internet speeds on computers in 22,000 Brazilian public schools every four hours, providing policy-makers with the most rigorous, up-to-date information on where to deploy connectivity efforts.

More recently, the Lemann Foundation, through its Brazilian Creative Learning Network (BCLN) initiative, was awarded nearly $4 million ($3,974,437) to fund the Creative Schools Program. The Tech and Play initiative is supported by the LEGO Foundation, and will be delivered in partnership with renowned US institutions (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium, California). The program will foster the creation of playful, creative and relevant hands-on education opportunities for students that will work with a combination of both creative technology and simple recyclable materials easily available in Brazilian schools such as paper and cardboard.

About IDB Lab

IDB Lab is the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the leading source of financing for improving lives in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB Lab’s objective is to drive innovation for inclusion in the region, mobilizing financing, knowledge and connections to co-create solutions capable of transforming the lives of vulnerable populations affected by economic, social or environmental factors. Since 1993, the IDB Lab has approved more than $2 billion in projects implemented in 26 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

About the Lemann Foundation

The Lemann Foundation is a Brazilian not-for-profit organisation with the aim of making Brazil a more just and equitable country, by encouraging access to high-quality public education for Brazilians of all backgrounds, while supporting the development of leaders committed to the long-term social transformation of Brazil. The Lemann Foundation supports a range of innovative, scalable initiatives that not only benefit millions of people in Brazil, but serve as a model for equitable development around the world. Learn more at: Follow us on social media: Twitter.

About Imaginable Futures

Imaginable Futures is a global philanthropic investment company that believes in the power of learning to unlock human potential and strives to provide every student with the opportunity and tools necessary to imagine and realize a better future. By taking a systems approach to solving complex education challenges, Imaginable Futures works in partnership with various sectors of society to advance the trajectory of students of all ages. With a strong commitment to building local alliances and co-creating with those we serve, Imaginable Futures empowers students, families and communities to become agents of change for the future. Imaginable Futures, which has global management and local operations in Brazil, Kenya and the United States, has invested $200 million in more than 125 partners in Africa, Latin America and North America, as well as India, with our sister organization Omidyar Network India. Imaginable Futures is an enterprise of the Omidyar Group. Visit and follow us at @imaginablefut.

About Quintessa

Since 2009, Quintessa has existed to help companies solve Brazil’s biggest social and environmental challenges. It carries out initiatives that promote innovation, positive impact and ESG agendas for large companies, investors, institutes and foundations. Over more than 12 years of experience, Quintessa has supported more than 200 outstanding impact businesses in areas such as education, health, environment, sustainable cities and inclusion. Learn more:

About Instituto Reunia

Instituto Reúna is a non-profit organization created to ensure quality and consistency in basic education. Starting from the challenge of implementing the Common National Curriculum Base, Reúna develops, together with a wide network of partners, technical-pedagogical services on four fronts: training, teaching material, curriculum and assessment. Each of these initiatives helps ensure all Brazilians receive the quality education to which they are entitled.

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