Advancing Racial Equity for Learners in Brazil

Our work in Brazil lies at the intersection of racial equity and education because we know that sustainable change for learners requires a fully embedded racial justice lens and systems approach. We do this through supporting equity-based programs inside and outside the classroom, research, advocacy and the expansion of the representation of diverse voices in places of power.

The Challenge

Deep inequalities from structural racism continue to permeate every aspect of Brazilian society, including its education system. These inequalities prevent Black, Indigenous and Quilombola learners from accessing opportunities that help them gain economic mobility. As a result of these barriers, they experience lower learning and life outcomes compared to their more privileged, white peers. Within larger communities, this has led to a significant underrepresentation of leaders in positions of power, and an underinvestment of their organizations and ideas. In recent years, the global pandemic and political instability have compounded these inequalities and made these challenges more dire. Through co-creation with our partners, we believe that philanthropy can play a stronger role in creating a more equitable and just future in Brazil.

What If

Imagine a world where learners, families, educators and communities are working together towards a shared vision of a racially inclusive education that strengthens Brazilian society. Where learners of all backgrounds are represented and have a strong sense of identity, self-worth and agency. Where leaders and organizations with power and resources, including those within philanthropy, are committed to advancing racial equity and celebrating diversity. Where policies at all levels—community, municipal, state and federal—are working in tandem to affirm racial equity across our education system. This is the future that we imagine and are co-creating with our partners.

Our Approach

We know that challenges in education systems are highly complex and often based on deep explicit and implicit patterns. That’s why we take a systems approach to begin to see and understand these patterns. We engage with stakeholders and partners across multiple backgrounds to gather rich data, insights and perspectives. Together, we constantly adapt our work so that we are investing in people and ideas at the crossroads of needs and momentum. Watch our video to see how stories connect to underlying systems of inequity.

Explore Our System Map

Our practice involves detailed mapping of the key components of a given system as a way to identify leverage points, which have the potential to yield positive impact.

What We Focus On

Expanding Leadership Opportunities through Equitable Representation

Representation matters. Yet children and young people from historically excluded communities often do not see themselves in leadership positions. Without meaningful pathways to reach this level, their real political and decision-making representation is undermined. We recognize the role that education plays in increasing access to places of institutional power. We therefore invest in educators and leaders from Black, Indigenous and Quilombola communities to better support them on their journeys.

Advancing a Racial Equity Agenda

Philanthropy has a unique role to play in creating a more just and equitable society. As part of a predominantly white-led sector, we are determined to not only support more organizations and leaders from Black, Indigenous and Quilombolo movements, but to also motivate the philanthropic sector to make racial equity a core part of their work. To do so, we are supporting initiatives that foster racial equity-centered collaborations and coalitions, and those that strengthen connections and conversations between funders and organizations from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Strengthening Community through Anti-Racist Education and Policies

At all levels of the education system in Brazil, from municipalities to states to the federal level, there is a need to break down structural racism barriers that have created inequities for Black, Indigenous and Quilombolo learners. Within these systems, we support efforts to broaden identity-affirming, racial equity-rooted policies, practices and movements. We place great emphasis on working with organizations that use community engagement to ensure political and collective accountability for quality education. This includes ensuring learners have culturally and contextually relevant curricula and educators who guide them toward a strong sense of identity, self-worth and agency. We also support initiatives that promote the interdependence between schools and communities, as well as efforts focused on developing engaged citizens.

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