Some of our hemisphere’s emerging leaders in politics, business, civil society, and the arts.
Would you invest in the education of a college student if you were able to earn a tidy return from his or her success? Felipe Vergara and Miguel Palacios are betting that a lot of people would. Since 2006, the investment model created by their Miami-based company, Lumni, Inc., has financed the college educations of nearly 1,300 low-income students in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States.
The arrangement is simple. By purchasing shares in a Lumni fund, buyers can earn an average return of 7.5 percent, according to Vergara, as students start to earn a salary and repay their loans.
Yolande James has been Québec’s Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities for three years. In the often-turbulent politics of Canada’s French-speaking province, few immigration ministers last that long. But James, 32, stands out for more than her survival skills: as the youngest woman, and first black woman, to serve in a high-ranking cabinet post in the province, she has helped transform Québec into a model for integrating immigrants into mainstream society.
To address educational gaps among marginalized populations in the Americas, a group of Latin American students attending Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched in 2004 an education assistance network. Drawing from the knowledge and expertise in the United States, their goal was to expand access to secondary and higher education for underprivileged urban, rural and indigenous communities.
The network, called ViaEducation, designs curricula, provides teacher training and facilitates youth-organized community development projects. In just six years, ViaEducation has developed programs in eight Latin American countries. The Mexico program is the fastest growing and has already reaped some tangible successes.
The life of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas is Cavi Borges’ passion and the subject of his cinematic art. But in a departure from classic films about Rio’s notorious slums such as Cidade de Deus (2002) or Tropa de Elite (2007), Borges portrays the human, personal experiences of growing up in the favelas. Focusing on the common experiences of youth, yearning and maturation, Borges’ movies bring audiences closer to the people who live in this environment by avoiding sensationalism and caricature.
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