Archive for the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ Category

Art Teaches Kids about Poverty

Why should we teach our children about global poverty and its challenges? Did you know half the world’s children live on less than $2 a day? (UN Human Development Report, 2011). And, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an astounding 22% of American children– 15.7 million–  are considered poor. (Kids Count data book, 2012).*

The topic of poverty is relevant to Texas “essential knowledge and skills” in a broad range of courses such as: economics, geography, government, history and culture. And, beyond the facts, it is essential that we empower our next generation of problem solvers with comprehension, compassion, and critical thinking about sustainability at home and in the developing world.

Click on this image of Rocinha to read about
the Origins of the Favela (RioOnWatch.org)

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin, Texas is a new collaboration in development that will use art to create an interactive stage for learning. The next major installation of Brazilian artist Werllayne Nunes, planned for early 2014, will create a “life-sized” rendering of a portion of the favela, or shantytown. Approximately a dozen original oil paintings, an actual favela dwelling, documentary film, and other media will serve as resources for local educators.  Middle and high school students will have a unique opportunity to learn not only about Brazil but also about the broader social and economic challenges of living in informal settlements.

The educational component of the project is made possible through partnership with Public Engagement office of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), University of Texas at Austin. LLILAS Public Engagement is dedicated to supporting Latin America-related K-12 education. As partner to the Favela project, Public Engagement will consult teachers on appropriate topics for classroom inclusion, create standards-based curriculum units that offer an in-depth understanding of poverty and development issues, provide training and gather resources for teachers. One to two student groups per week will visit the art installation over a three-month period reaching roughly 1,000 area middle and high school students.

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin integrates art with education on a diverse range of topics. This means of engaging students in creative learning aims to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, and create empathy. Not only is using art in education innovative, but it also has proven positive effects on children’s academic, social, cultural, and cognitive development.

Research performed by the Arts Education Partnership and others has demonstrated the power of art in education to develop skills and abilities such as:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Academic achievement
  • School, social and civic engagement (Arts Education Partnership)

A possible lesson plan, for example, might encourage high school students to role-play and go through group problem-solving exercises to develop solutions to specific challenges of living in a favela. Another lesson might explore the rich cultural production of the favela, especially in music, and the role arts-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played to empower youth in these communities.

In addition to school outreach, Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin will engage the community by partnering with local organizations to stage concurrent Brazil-related cultural events. The art show will remain open to the public during normal gallery hours. Austin-based social enterprise The Global Good will undertake the role of fundraising and project coordination.

While the installation itself is planned for early 2014, a number of related events or workshops, such as a possible Master Class in painting for at-risk teens, are under discussion for the interim.

For more information about the Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin project, contact  <info@theglobalgood.com>.

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*Poverty is defined by the U.S. government by income. The poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four.

Catch the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship TODAY

Sadly, the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, March 28-30, 2012 at the University of Oxford, England,  is by invitation only. Sadly, I won’t be there. But I can live vicariously through the Internet!

Why have a world forum on social entrepreneurship? Because it matters! A lot.  By the way, this link is to Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg’s post on the Huffington Post.  And Ariana Huffington is a featured speaker at the forum this year.

 

 

For those of us who can’t be in Oxford, video recordings of select presentations are available online and also in live stream. Here’s the schedule:

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Recommended Reading

This book should top the list for anyone in global development:

 Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Authors Banerjee and Duflo, both MIT economists, take a close look at the poor and the decisions they make. With over fifteen years  research in dozens of countries, they suggest that poverty programs and actions should be “radically rethought”. To be effective, these programs need to change to to reflect the reality of poverty as evidenced.

Maybe…we had it all wrong? Some of these insights really challenge basic assumptions. For example, we assume the poor don’t have enough to eat, right? But Banerjee and Duflo observed that given more money, the poor didn’t buy more food, they bought better food (in similar amounts).

I don’t pretend to know all the implications of Banerjee and Duflo’s work, but I find it fascinating and think the impacts, if and when applied to poverty programs, could be profound.

For more, go to the book’s companion website:

Companion Website — Poor Economics

Have you read a great book on development lately? Recommend it here!!

50% Fewer Live in Extreme Poverty…and….

Five years before the 2015 deadline, the world has achieved one of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce extreme poverty by half.

Check out the New York Times article on March 6, 2012:

Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump

Definitely this is a huge achievement to be celebrated!!  And a word of caution comes from the Trickle Up President Bill Abrams. One caveat is how we understand and define poverty. The gross numbers for poverty have fallen, but the numbers of the ultra-poor (living on $1.25/day or less) haven’t improved all that much.

Why would that be? Continue reading

The Big Idea: (UPDATED) Simple Truths About Mobile Money via NextBillion.net

Check out NextBillion.net’s latest blog post:

The Big Idea: (UPDATED) Simple Truths About Mobile Money.

Financial Inclusion is development-speak for access to banking services for the poor. Some people in development– banks?– think we need to reach the poor and “unbanked“.

That would be 2.7 billion unbanked people in world. The premise is that even if, or perhaps especially if, you have very little money and/or you live in the countryside, your money is safer at the bank.

One way to deliver financial services, when you have no brick and mortar bank,  is through cell phones. Mobile technologies have created a wealth of opportunities (pun intended) for global development.

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All things being (more) equal, we’re happier people.

I recently viewed the video “How Economic Inequality Harms Societies“.  Here Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level, explains how gaps in income distribution hurt societies.

The bigger the gap between the rich and the poor, the bigger society’s problems. Conversely, the more homogeneous a people are, in terms of income, the greater the well-being and happiness in the society.

And, according to Wilkinson, the determining factor for social well-being is not how rich or poor a given society is overall. Rather, it’s how similar the individuals in the population are to one another in terms of the distribution of wealth.

It would stand to reason, by this argument, that what we need to increase well-being is not more money per se. We need to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Continue reading

Scratch-offs + cell phones = energy.

Read how this social entrepreneur is bringing a pay-as-you go system to provide the world’s poorest people access to solar energy:

  1. Get a unique code from a scratch-off card.
  2. Send a text with the code to a local service.
  3. The service that will then credit the specified personal solar cell.

From the Sun (Bypassing the Grid) to the BoP Consumer.

Social businesses are reaching and improving the lives of the world’s poorest Continue reading