PUPA Early Childhood Development

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PUPA Early Childhood Development: PUPA - ECD for Parents and Caregivers in Low Income Communities

�, Brazil�, Brazil
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

With 100% assimilation, PUPA OVERCOME brought recreational activities to low-income caregivers from Brazil’s most violent community: Cariacica – ES. Aside from accompanying visits, they further learned recreational activities that potentiate cognitive, emotional and social development.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if playing were considered indispensable in the routine of children from 0 to 6 years old?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Brazil, there are 20 million children from 0-6 years old, being more than half from families with a monthly income below half of minimum wage per capita and only 11.8% are looked after by formal institutions, while another 10 million are cared for by relatives / informal caregivers without resources, ties or training. This situation may have consequences like child violence, crime, teen pregnancy, skipping school and a low level of learning.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The development of a methodology for a low-schooling audience that is founded on recreation, allowing the rescue of childhood and the self-esteem of caregivers in high-vulnerability situations. The training explores five axes of development: music, playing, literature (storytelling), the environment and health. To support the axes listed above, we use affective ties and affection, always using the best educational references and evidence of neuroscience. The training of the caregivers is applied in 3 modules of 16 hours each, every 3 months, separated by monthly home visits to monitor results (impact) and positive behavior reinforcement, doubts and proposals of solutions.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Cariacica-ES, has homicide indexes of 85 per 100000 inhabitants and 27.46% of the families in poor situations; without room in day cares, the parents turn to informal caregivers. This is the scenario Marinete da Silva lives in: she became a caregiver, because she was unemployed. She didn’t know what to do with the children. Not enough space, resources or patience! Aside from being intolerant, she yelled, she wouldn’t play and wouldn’t let them explore. There were 16 children in her care. With an opportunity offered by the company VALE, a sponsor of the PUPA program, she went through the OVERCOME – introductory course and found that affection is fundamental and teaches parents to cooperate in recreation and grow bonds with their children.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The post-training survey pointed out that the pilot had 100% assimilation, accessibility and applicability. 50% of the caregivers highlighted three phrases as the most important: . Early childhood is a fundamental period to determine how the child will develop and the adult that the child will become. . The role of the caregiver is fundamental for the process of the development of children from zero to six years old. During the pilot phase in 2013, 1,000 adults went through training, impacting almost 3,000 children. A total of 3,000 adults are expected for 2014 with an impact on 9,000 children. The goal of the company is to reach 1 million children in 10 years through information, courses and workshops for parents, educators and caregivers. PUPA is the only methodology developed in the country for low-income parents, caregivers and educators.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The geographic expansion of the project will go in a franchise model. Beginning in 2014, the company will count on 7 representative businesses, in different states, in a pilot phase to later establish it as a franchise. Development of an ecosystem of information and an investment in early childhood is very important, on the part of the Government and on the part of businesses, NGO’s and families. Public-private partnerships should be created and promoted to allow private initiative, and service to high-vulnerability families with a focus on education, health and prevention of violence.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The courses are sold to businesses (communication, CSR and HR) and municipalities in the sectors of social service (CRAS – for families and caregivers) and Education (low income educators of public and private day cares). Aside from this, the courses are offered to the high income that subsidize (cross-subsidy) up to 80% of the cost of the course for a low-income family. The company also offers consulting for Marketing of private companies.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Today in Brazil, other initiatives that are turned toward developing child education for low-income families, don’t exist. On account of its innovative character and high impact, PUPA achieved the financing of its activities through a loan with BID – Interamerican Bank of Development – and today is one of the 5 companies to have the UNDP – BCTA seal, Business Call to Action of the United Nations. The Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, along with the Zero a Seis (0-6) Institute, work the subject with governmental and private sectors of society.

Founding Story

During the work of the founder, on the distributor LEGO EDUCATION in Brazil, the lack of service to the low-income populations became clear in methodologies that could maximize the development of the brain in children. Beginning with the personal experience as mother and executive the founder idealized this methodology, with a focus on playing, they could empower mothers to execute this challenge in the most efficient way. Coming from research with community leaders from 5 different areas of São Paulo, it became clear the great necessity and impact that a methodology like this could bring. However, the greatness of the mission and the impact pushed the founder to make this undertaking a reality. The support of BID was fundamental.


Made up of (full time): 1 Pedagogical Director of Research and Development 1 Pedagogical Manager of Operation 1 Director of Marketing and Relationships 1 Sales Assistant 1 Administrative and Financial Assistant Part Time: 7 Commercial Reps and 7 Pedagogical Managers If we expand the commercial area and support for the franchise (commercial reps) we will be able to quickly have national coverage of sales and application of methodology
About You
About You
First Name

Mary Anne

Last Name

Amorim Ribeiro

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

Organization Country

, �

Country where this project is creating social impact

, �

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Businesses, Regional government.


Corporate Leaders Program from IADB- Interamerican Development Bank - Oportunity for the Majority - 2010

Primary Target Age Group


Your role in Education

After-School Provider.

Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)


Intervention Focus

Childcare, Professional Development, Community, Parenting.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Equip Adults to Drive Change in Learning: Providing creative learning experiences for teachers, parents, working professions and others that empowers them to drive change in any part of the learning ecosystem.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Lack of structures to facilitate meaningful community ownership in learning process: It is challenging to ensure parents and the broader community are involved as full co-owners in the learning process.


Play-oriented areas in communities and support for babies and children.


Child development classes for low-income caregivers and mothers.

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

The consciousness of the importance of affection and playing in the construction of cognitive, social, and emotional intelligence of children.
The empowering of caregiving adults with reference to low-cost resources, such as wide range materials, like resources for play-oriented experiences.
The rescue of the childhood of these adults and portfolio of activities/games that stimulate the 5 axes of development: Affection, Health, Music, Literature and Environment.
The importance of emotional (affective) protection, bonding, and the child’s emotional health.

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

In 3 modules (16 hours each) and 2 home follow-up visits in each phase, the trainings are given by 2 PUPA certified educators. Within the very community or in a space offered by the sponsor company, the caregivers receive KIT PUPA and experience dynamics: rescue and value the childhood of the caregiver; fundamentals and concepts of childhood development and neuroscience; expand the play-oriented and educational repertoire; improve the quality of the mediation of the caregiver with themes of early childhood everyday life and its relation with full development.

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

Nobel Prize of Economy in 2000, James Heckman proved that the best investment that exists in in early childhood: If we wait till the teen years to stimulate this, it will be 60% more expensive and the results will not be the same as in a child up to 3 years old. (US$1=US$17).
The global movement shows that there are more and more projects (ex.: Seven is Too Late) directed at early childhood and are attracting the attention of the government, various sectors and, especially, the family. The parents are seeking alternatives and stand ready for the reinvention of learning, through play.

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

We understand that playing impacts the neurobiological and psychological dimension and promotes full development of the child, orienting the promotion of adequate stimulation of the child through simple, play-oriented, and accessible activities. For this reason we believe that children learn playing, however it is important that pillars like Health and the Environment in which the playing happens also are worked on. This because, the child only plays if he is healthy. If he doesn’t play, he doesn’t develop.

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

The capital used until the present moment was USD1 million, financed by IADB and another USD1 million from associates (personal capital).
The company still has the option of financing another USD 2 million with IADB.
The payment deadline is 7 years after the 3 year “grace period.”

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

PUPA is a private business, with a social mission, inspired in the B-CORP model. Its mission is to transform the world through the best experiences for early childhood. Through affection, scientific evidences of neuroscience and of education, to potentiate the window of opportunity (early childhood) of human development.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

The resource of developing the opportunity of continued training, through the online platform. With tutorial videos, the public will be able to watch them so that they can apply them in the child’s routine; and become a reference channel that offers services to the childhood market, with a social mission.

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

There is a difficulty in finding partnerships with businesses that have the objective of reaching the family, and not just school education. Currently PUPA has a partnership with the LEGO Foundation: as happens the training of low-income caregivers, each one receives a Duplo LEGO kit, to serve as one of the tools of childhood development.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

There are few projects directed at the family. The proposals from QUINTAL – Espaço do Brinca (Play Space) and MALA DE LEITURA (Reading Bag/Suit Case), are excellent, for they work on the languages (literature) and also on the environment in which the child will be introduced. They could contribute in two axes of the PUPA methodology.

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

In 15 years we believe that the expansion of PUPA will already cover all of Brazil and, also, some countries in Latin America. Its scale model, with simple and play-oriented language, has the capability of reaching more than 1 million adults in the next 10 years, which will give strength for the brand to become an early-childhood reference in the market.

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

Every trimester we report the indicators to the IRIS platform, because of the contract that we have with IADB. In the first year, there were already more than 1 thousand people impacted. The greatest challenge is to direction the market desire toward early childhood, for we believe that, in the long-term, there will be a reduction in the rate of skipping school and childhood violence; improvement in the relationship between adult and child; and still an income and work opportunity generation.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

1,001 to 10,000

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers:

Fewer than 10

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Providing a Range of Opportunities (providing the equipment and materials needed for various types of play), Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts), Adults Participating (Ensuring adults are able to play alongside children).

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.

Yes, PUPA is a business that is invested in ZOOM Group that is the exclusive distributor of LEGO Education in Brazil.