Campus & Community

Reinforcement for Harvard-Brazil bridge

5 min read

New gift from Lemann Foundation supports financial aid, creates new research fund

Harvard University on Tuesday announced that the Lemann Foundation will expand financial aid to undergraduate and graduate students from Brazil, support visiting faculty, and launch the Brazil Research Fund for cross-disciplinary scholarship related to the world’s fifth-largest country. The move bolsters a relationship that began more than a decade ago.

“Harvard is an inherently global institution and has been since its founding,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “This year alone, more than 300 Harvard students conducted research in Brazil — exploring everything from climate change in the Amazon rainforest to improving educational systems in the fast-growing urban centers. With the Lemann Foundation’s continued support, this important work will continue for generations to come.”

“To accelerate social change in Brazil is an important part of the Lemann Foundation’s mission. Therefore, we seek to form leaders committed to social impact and promote the production of knowledge and evidence that can contribute to this goal,” explained Denis Mizne, the Lemann Foundation’s executive director. “The expansion of this partnership with Harvard is another important step in that direction.”

In 2006, Jorge Paulo Lemann ’61 and his family strengthened the University’s relationship to Brazil by providing new resources for students from that country and providing permanent endowment of Harvard’s Brazil Studies Program. Since then, more than 120 financial aid grants have made a Harvard education possible for Brazilian undergraduates and graduates who may not otherwise have been able to attend.

The current gift builds on that progress and will significantly enhance both the Lemann Fellowship and Scholarship programs. The Lemann Fellowship program supports graduate students from Brazil, who have a strong commitment to social impact in their home country, in areas such as education, government, and public health. Nearly 100 Harvard Lemann Fellows form a cohort of graduates across fields and have grown into a network of leaders in Brazil and around the world.

Lemann Fellow Guilherme Lichand is a Ph.D. candidate in political economy and government at Harvard and the founder of MGov, a mobile platform for policy design and impact evaluation. He credits Harvard with expanding his understanding of the impact that research can have outside of the academy, and how research and entrepreneurship are so complementary.

“Being part of the Lemann Fellows network allowed me to experience Harvard through a unique perspective, enabling me to reflect on how the variety of knowledge generated at the University can be applied in Brazil,” Lichand added.

Harvard College maintains a need-blind admissions policy to attract and support exceptional students from around the globe, regardless of their financial circumstances. All students accepted to the College have their full need met by the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, which has distributed more than $1.5 billion over the past 10 years. Individual funds, such as the Lemann Scholarship, support that effort for students that meet particular criteria — in this case for accepted students from Brazil.

Over the past two decades, the number of international students at Harvard has grown by more than two-thirds, and this trend is especially visible in the fourfold increase of undergraduates from Brazil over the past 10 years. Beyond the numbers, these students, for whom the Lemann Scholarships are designated, increasingly reflect a broader representation from Brazil, coming from diverse backgrounds and geographies.

Recognizing the opportunity for greater research collaborations between Harvard and Brazil, the gift includes an investment in a first-of-its-kind fund dedicated to projects based in or relating to Brazil. In collaboration with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Brazil Studies Program, the fund, administered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, will support cross-disciplinary projects in fields such as education management and administration, social science, public administration and policy, technological advances in education, and evidence-based research.

“We have long benefited from our collaboration with the Lemann Foundation. This substantial gift will ensure that present and future generations of Harvard students and scholars can continue to explore original research questions of importance to the study of Brazil, the answers to which will have regional as well as global relevance,” said Mark Elliott, vice provost for international affairs.

Ongoing projects in the region through Harvard’s Brazil Office tackle pressing issues such as early childhood development, teacher training, climate change, and sustainable cities.

Frances Hagopian, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Visiting Associate Professor for Brazil Studies and faculty chair of the Brazil Studies Program, said, “This generous support will allow us to continue the vital academic inquiry and maintain the pipeline of future leaders required to address the challenges that Brazil faces today.”

Founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Jorge Paulo Lemann, the Lemann Foundation is a family foundation focused on guaranteeing a world-class education for every child in Brazil and on speeding up social change in the country. In order to achieve these goals, the foundation develops and disseminates education technology projects, conducts research to support educational public policies, offers learning-focused teacher training, and strengthens leadership in several social areas.