Have you heard of Ayrton Senna? The Brazilian racing driver is a true hero who won 3 Formula One world championships and reached the podium 80 times. Unfortunately, a tragic crash in 1994 cut Ayrton Senna's life tragically short, and over 1 million Brazilians lined the streets of Sao Paulo to salute the legendary racer.
Instituto Ayrton Senna, an NGO founded in honor of Ayrton Senna's commitment to children's education, was started by the Senna family following Ayrton's death. Since opening in 1994, the foundation has achieved high impact, quantifiable results:
- 11,640,930 children assisted;
- 553,512 educators qualified; and
- 1,372 cities reached.
Interestingly, the organization focuses primarily on scalable, quality programs with emphasis on building stronger management in education systems. The issue of scalability has become an important discussion topic on the trip, as we weigh in on the for-profit vs. non-profit education debate. While the latter seems to be more focused on quality, the former has traditionally scaled at a much more rapid rate. The Instituto Ayrton Senna blends the two worlds by building and supporting the scalable organizations that help reduce illiteracy, educate low-income youth, and assist teachers.
After learning about the tragedy of Ayrton Senna's racing crash, I started to understand the gravity of such a national tragedy in Brazil. Through the Instituto Ayrton Senna, I felt more optimistic about the trajectory of Brazil's educational system. The work of the Institute truly lives up to its champion's ideals.