Abraço Campeão, a stellar grantee partner that is helping Brazilian youth deal with the effects of COVID-19
Located in Complexo do Alemão, one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest and most violent favelas, Abraço Campeão uses boxing, integrated with education and personal development, to inspire children and young people to become protagonists of their history and authors of their future.
The organization was founded in 2014 by Alan Duarte, an energetic and committed young man who lost ten family members to gun violence. Alan adopted and adapted a program developed by Luta Pela Paz, a former EMpower grantee partner, and replicated it in his favela to create a future of peace and opportunity for his son and his community. In 2017, EMpower awarded a small grant to Abraço Campeão that had a huge positive impact, helping the organization register as a non-profit, establish a Board of Directors, hire paid staff, and develop its first institutional budget.
Complexo do Alemão has been hit hard by COVID-19 and Abraço Campeão has made major adaptations to the EMpower-funded program to respond to this new reality. After suspending all in-person activities and encouraging program participants to comply with government mandated social-distancing measures, the team pivoted and devoted all its energy to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, providing families that experienced a steep drop in income because of COVID with emergency support in the form of food parcels and hygiene kits. According to Alan, “none of this would have been possible without EMpower’s support. The organization’s flexibility in re-budgeting allowed us not only to hang on, but to thrive, providing for our team and our athletes throughout the crisis.”
EMpower’s flexible funding also allowed Abraço Campeão set-up a Mototaxi service that was christened Mototaxi Wakanda — inspired in the notion of highlighting afro-centric technologies a la Black Panther— that allowed the organization to manage the complex logistics of delivering hundreds of food parcels and hygiene kits (1,800 so far) through the hills and backstreets of Complexo do Alemão using volunteer mototaxi drivers and a remote “call-center” registration system. In dividing the team up into “tribes” (small teams) to divvy up the tasks of registering families, sorting and storing food parcels, coordinating mototaxi volunteers, and monitoring deliveries, Abraço Campeão founded an improved-efficiency organizational model that will remain instilled in the team’s ethos even post-pandemic. Alan drew up plans for Mototaxi Wakanda two days after receiving notice from Program Officer Daniel Parnetti that Abraço Campeão would be allowed to use EMpower’s remaining grant funding in a more flexible way to address COVID-related needs.
Today, Abraço Campeão provides essential services and opportunities to 147 children and young people (82 girls/young women and 65 boys/young men), which includes comprehensive services, including education classes, health information, and boxing training. Thanks to EMpower’s support, half of program participants are now girls and young women.
For an inspiring video about Abraço Campeão’s history (best documentary short at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival), please click here.
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