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September 29, 2022


Ismart and Aspire Institute share in their mission to transform the future of underserved youth and witness how good examples have a multiplying effect in societies around the world. Ismart, Instituto Social para Motivar, Apoiar e Reconhecer Talentos, which translates to Social Institute to Motivate, Attract and Retain Talent in English, is a non-profit organization in Brazil. 

“It makes total sense to partner with organizations like Aspire. We want to promote as many development opportunities as we can for our students,” said Marcela Lessa, Institutional Relations Coordinator at Ismart. 

Founded in 1999, Ismart shares a fundamental belief with Aspire Institute: talent exists across all socioeconomic brackets. Ismart identifies young talent from low-income families, who they describe as academically gifted, and supports them from middle school through their university journey with funding and access to professional development programs. The end goal is to prepare them to take on leadership roles at leading organizations, thus breaking the poverty cycle.

Similarly to Aspire’s Leaders in Training and Leaders of Tomorrow, Ismart participants are known as protagonists of the future. Aspire and Ismart provide continued support and mentorship that set youth up for success.

Once these young adults graduate the primary Ismart program, they join the alumni community and mentor the next generation just as our Aspire alumni will do through the growing Alumni Network Program. 

“We try to show examples and bring students from a similar background together to say look at them, they have a similar story,” said Lessa. “If they got there, you can get there.”

Young People Catalyzing Change Around the World

When the Aspire team sat down with Marcela Lessa, Institutional Relations Coordinator at Ismart, she shared how beneficial the partnership with the Aspire Institute has been. While Ismart may not only work with first-generation college students, 99% of their students most likely belong to this group.

This shared audience, along with the belief that opportunities can catalyze social change, strengthens the Ismart and Aspire Institute collaboration. While Ismart operates in Brazil, many of their students yearn for international opportunities. The Aspire Leaders Program can offer this experience without leaving home. 

“Not all that want to study abroad get the experience – it is expensive,” Lessa explained. “Igor, [an Ismart student and current Aspire Leader in Training] was super excited that he [met] people he never would have had the chance to meet.”

Lessa has been working with young social entrepreneurs and changemakers for about five years and feels continually inspired by them.

“I love seeing how much energy and power young people have when they decide they want to tackle a problem,” she expressed. “It gives you hope and warms my heart!”

Aspire Institute and Ismart will be hosting a joint information session about the Aspire Leaders Program on November 9, 2022. Click here to learn more and register. 


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