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Lemann Foundation launches remote learning initiatives to benefit millions during COVID-19 pandemic

Lemann Foundation
Apr 17 · 9 min read

Actions aim to ensure students continue learning and leaders are supported to ensure a fairer and more inclusive force future for all

By Denis Mizne

Since the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Brazil on February 25, 2020, COVID-19 has swept across the country. As it did, we in the third-sector huddled together to figure out how to reduce the immense harm it would cause our people, especially those in the most vulnerable communities where running water isn’t even a guarantee, never mind soap.

As the new coronavirus threatens to enormously set back Brazil’s development and further exacerbate our already gaping inequality, it is urgent to invest in initiatives to offset the damage COVID-19 is inflicting.

The Lemann Foundation, which has been working to guarantee quality public education and develop leadership in Brazil for almost twenty years, has teamed up with a consortium of 30 private, public, and non-profit organizations to offer a bundle of innovations specifically tailored to the nation’s circumstances and constraints. The initiative, brought together under the umbrella of #PeloFuturoAgora (For the Future Now) is helping support educators and leaders across the country.

Brazil, like most countries across the world, is facing the unprecedented dilemma of millions of children suddenly out of school at one time and Brazil faces bigger challenges than many of them. Almost 40 million children attend public schools, a number that is higher than the population of the vast majority of the world’s countries. Fully half of those students already face learning poverty, according to the World Bank. Another challenge is that while most Brazilians have access to an Internet-connected device, they do not have unlimited data plans and must pay extra to go over the allotted amounts.

In light of these constraints, we are doing everything we can to ensure every child, especially our most vulnerable ones, continues learning throughout the crisis. For example, we have leveraged the most popular app in Brazil, WhatsApp, as a learning platform because it offers unlimited data.

Through #PeloFuturoAgora, the Foundation and its partners are offering a variety of free high-quality learning and teaching tools on every type of platform available — online, offline, mobile, computer, and even broadcast television. These carefully curated and easily-accessible resources that complement existing learning are available for anyone who needs them — educators, administrators, and families.

We know remote learning is not as effective as face-to-face teaching. But rather it is meant to support learning and minimize the disruptive impacts of the pandemic on education so that when children do return to school they have not fallen behind. All of the content is aligned with Brazil’s National Learning Standards, so it conforms with what children must learn at the various benchmarks of the school year.

“Nothing replaces the teacher’s work and the experience in the classroom, but it is vital that we seek harm-reduction measures for students with quality pedagogical materials and easy access,” said Denis Mizne, executive director of the Lemann Foundation.

“We know that there is no single solution capable of serving 100 percent of students, so we work with countless partners, on different platforms, to scale the reach and benefit the greatest possible number of students,” Mizne said.

Because effective leadership across the public, private, and third sectors is critical in reducing the harm caused by COVID-19, the Lemann Foundation is also working with its partners to support leaders in helping their communities. Their work extends far beyond education into such diverse areas as health, hunger, and public management.

Some of the education and leadership initiatives carried out by the Lemann Foundation and its partner social organizations are as follows:


AprendiZap — A brand new tool has been developed that integrates into the most popular app in Brazil, WhatsApp. AprendiZap provides lesson plans, content, and exercises directly through the messaging service. Because most students do not have computers, providing access to remote learning through mobile devices was a critical piece of the solution. Additionally, students fortunate enough to have access to mobile devices almost always have limited prepaid data plans. The messaging platform is an invaluable tool because most basic mobile plans in Brazil grant unlimited data access to the app. The content can be adapted by educators, is aligned with the country’s new National Learning Standards, and is designed for teachers and students from the 6th to 9th grades. Every week they receive all the necessary content for the various learning tracks of Portuguese, mathematics, geography, history, science, English, and arts. The content aligns perfectly with what students would have been studying at the moment in schools.Since its launch, AprendiZap has reached more than 60,000 users. The tool is promoted by Fundação 1Bi with Fundação Lemann and Imaginable Futures.

More information at

Aprendendo Sempre (Always Learning) — A newly created one-stop portal consolidates access to the high-quality educational resources that had been previously scattered across various platforms. Teachers, managers, and families can use a search function to filter results to find links to the learning solutions that best suit their specific needs. All the content the portal links to is geared toward teaching students K-12 and is curated. The free content, hand-picked by a team of teaching and learning experts, covers all the major subjects and is aligned with National Learning Standards.

In addition to the Lemann Foundation, the initiative is supported by Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, CIEB, Ensina Brasil, Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation, Rodrigo Mendes Foundation, Telefônica Foundation, Imaginable Futures, Natura Institute, Península Institute, Sonho Institute Grande, Itaú Social, Sonho Grande Institute, Movimento Collaborates, Movimento pela Base, Nova Escola, Oi Futuro, Portal Iede, Porvir, Todos pela Educação, and Unicef.

More information at

YoutubeEdu — Video playlists are pushed out weekly with content that adheres to the National Learning Standards. The #FiqueEmCasa e Estude #Comigo campaign offers complementary content for secondary and high school students. The playlists are created from existing content on the platform, which had previously been organized by teachers from the YouTubeEdu community itself under the pedagogical guidance of the Lemann Foundation. The channel offers a vibrant and entertaining array of educational materials produced by educators, influencers, and other well-known personalities in Brazilian culture that students connect to.

Access the campaign here:

Media Center — In order to promote equity by ensuring children with no access to WiFi and computers continue to learn, the Lemann Foundation is supporting the Media Center of the São Paulo State Department of Education, which offers instruction through television and other channels. The Media Center is already being used by 3 million students.

More info here:

Supporting Educational Networks — After an open call, the Lemann Foundation will provide technical expertise and funding to five public education networks so they can create remote learning lesson plans. The action plan will be co-created and adapted according to the needs and reality of each network. The assistance will last for two months or longer.

More details about the program here:

Education Emergency Relief Fund—In partnership with Imaginable Futures, the Lemann Foundation has launched an emergency fund to support remote learning initiatives. The fund supports not only the AprendiZap and YoutubeEdu initiatives but many others that are being developed to reach as many education managers, teachers, and students through as many channels as possible. To learn more about the fund, contact

Simplifica — This initiative, created by Amplifica and Sincroniza in partnership with the Lemann Foundation and Imaginable Futures, employs Google Classroom so that elementary and middle school teachers working remotely can continue teaching. All the lessons are aligned with the National Learning Standards.

Leadership Support

In addition to direct investment in various projects and organizations, the Lemann Foundation is working to identify new partners with relevant experience. We seek to exchange experiences and facilitate connections between funds and initiatives from other institutes and foundations, expanding the capacity for scale, coverage and impact.

Among the initiatives supporting leaders carried out by the Lemann Foundation and its partner organizations are:

“Corona no Paredão, Fome Aqui Não” — The Lemann Foundations supports the Instituto Gerando Falcões to fight the rising wave of hunger in the favelas. The Institute, which which operates within network strategy, in ghettos and favelas, through sports, art, and music, has already raised R$ $11 million, which covers the costs of more than 220,000 “virtual basic baskets,” the cost of the so-called basic basket of food goods and non-food goods. The “Corona no Paredão, Fome Aqui Não” (“Corona in the Corner, No Hunger Here”) initiative will provide immediate support to families whose income has been greatly reduced or eliminated by the social isolation imposed by the pandemic. The goal is to distribute one million basic food baskets in Brazil’s poorest neighborhoods, ensuring nutrition and hygiene for Brazil’s most vulnerable families over the next three months.

Supporting organizations and leaders — The Lemann Foundation selected, through an announcement aimed at organizations and leaders in its network, five initiatives to mitigate the direct and indirect impacts of the coronavirus. The selected projects cover areas, demands and diverse populations strongly affected by the pandemic and include, among others: support for health and educational actions for indigenous peoples of the Xingu and Legal Amazon; telemonitoring and call center network for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in home isolation; and support to municipal governments to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

People in the Public Sector — Along with Fundação Brava, Instituto Humanize, and Repú, Fundação Lemann works with eight state governments to support leadership. During the pandemic, the Lemann Foundation is promoting online information sessions, events, and workshops in diverse fields to share challenges and exchange good practices. The goal is to increase the public sector’s capacity and to accelerate its response to mitigate COVID-19’s damage and better serve the citizens they serve.

What are our partners doing?

The Lemann Foundation works with an incredibly passionate and talented array of partners. Here is what they are doing in response to the crisis.

Support for Teachers — Associação Nova Escola has provided tools to support teachers; initiatives that benefit up to 2.2 million educators across Brazil. In partnership with Facebook, the Association is offering free continuing education to help educators leverage digital tools at this time of remote educational activities:

The association is also adapting its robust collection of lesson plans to be used in remote learning models. The plans align that all grades are working on the same skills and competencies as required Brazil’s National Learning Standards (Common National Curriculum Base or BNCC).

Finally, Nova Escola has mobilized the specialists who helped create the lesson plans aligned to the BNCC to update them so they can adapt to the challenges of the current remote learning context. Nova Escola is also formulating a plan designed to help school districts transition back to face-to-face classes when we return to normalcy.

Focus map — Instituto Reúna has prepared a selection of fundamental skills for each grade, aligned with the BNCC. These skills are translated into objectives to guide students’ learning and development. The material serves as a basis to guide the choice of content being produced by education networks and education organizations during the pandemic.

Formar — The program takes place in partnership with 25 public education networks and already collaborates with the learning of more than 1 million students. With the shutdown of schools, many education departments are triggering their contingency plans. In order to contribute to the situation, Formar is offering remote support with conversation circles and sharing of best practices.

Educar pra Valer — The Associação Bem Comum (“common well-being association, in English) initiative, supported by the Lemann Foundation, offers free technical advice to municipalities. The initiative is designed to help cities implement effective public management practices through remote training and consultancy.

Partnership for Literacy via Collaboration (PARC) — The initiative, carried out by the Lemann Foundation, the Associação Bem Comum, and Natura Institute, in partnership with state governments and their municipalities, has been working to ensure literacy at the right age in multiple states across Brazil. PARC has adapted their workflow routines to a remote model by moving their weekly meetings online through videoconferencing applications.

About the Lemann Foundation

Since its birth in 2002, the Lemann Foundation has been working to advance Brazil’s development with equity by unlocking the potential of its children and future leaders.
Founded by self-made Brazilian entrepreneur and “business-class hero,” Jorge Paulo Lemann, the family foundation reverses inequality in Brazil at scale on two fronts: education and leadership. Lemann’s mission is to guarantee all children a high-quality public education no matter what their background and to support future leaders committed to making Brazil a more just and equal place.

Lemann Foundation

Written by

The Lemann Foundation works to advance Brazil’s development with equity by unlocking the potential of its children and future leaders.

Lemann Foundation

Written by

The Lemann Foundation works to advance Brazil’s development with equity by unlocking the potential of its children and future leaders.

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