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When Clara Prado was told that the money raised by students and parents at the school fair would be made available to her Social Innovation classes to invest in projects and ideas developed hand-in-hand with neighboring and socially vulnerable communities Real Parque and Jardim Panorama, she was at once surprised and eager. In her classes, Avenues São Paulo 9th and 10th grade students were already following the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to map out challenges they hoped to tackle. The funds were a leap forward.

And that is how Criativos do Bairro came to be, which is a student-led project dedicated to finding solutions and sourcing funds to aid NGOs previously listed under Rede Real Panorama, an online network of neighboring organizations and institutions that promote social impact – which in turn was Avenues’ very first Social Innovation project implemented.

“Avenues’ students not only did their research and got to know the organizations, firsthand, but they also understood how they were perceived by their communities, how they presented themselves online, how they affected people’s lives”, explains Clara Prado. To guarantee the financial transparency and design a smart process to the project, Instituto Phi, whose expertise is just on these two topics, accompanied it from the ideation to the execution, thinking together with the students about the best way to proceed. "We managed to build an enriching process of joint construction with the school. I think that the main result is the engagement from the students and from Avenues community” said Juliana Bertolucci, Project Coordinator at Instituto Phi.

Through ideation and design thinking methods, students, community members, NGOs’ management, and programs participants came up with several projects that would be put through the test in front of an evaluating committee composed of Social Innovation teachers, parents from PACE (Parents Avenues Community Engagement), Rede Real Panorama students, and Instituto Phi. The goal, Clara Prado stresses, was not to turn the students into donors, but to build intelligent philanthropy.
“It was a painful process for them, as they were asked tough questions, but it was also the greatest lesson to be learned. Thinking of solutions, alternatives, new paths, even when you think you’ve exhausted all of your possibilities; these are all a part of the creative process. There’s always an uncharted path you haven’t yet explored. And that’s what we focused on in our Social Innovation class, the entrepreneurial mindset. Despite their frustrations, they understood this. It was both a personal and a professional growth for them”.

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