Mariana Luz, CEO of Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, and Dario Guarita Neto, president of the Board of Trustees, talk about strategic planning and achievements in 2019
The year 2019
New challenges, new strategic planning, and new goals: 2019 was an intense year, with many achievements for the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation. A year in which we established the transformations we want to see in society in 2030 and in which we built short-, medium-, and long-term milestones for promoting positive impacts on the lives of children from birth to six years of age.
More than ever, the desire to guarantee the right to full and integral early childhood development was at the heart of our actions. Knowing the fundamental role that public policy plays in achieving this goal, the team grew and structured our advocacy strategy. The new Institutional Relations Department has been tasked with the mission of encouraging decision-makers. The department is collaborating, even more, to formulate and implement services and programs that meet the needs of children and their families, especially those who live in situations of vulnerability.
We expanded our operations with new partnerships, coalitions, and projects in the areas of early childhood education, parenting, assessment, and communication, in addition to initiatives focused on intra-governmental collaboration. You can see these actions and all the Foundation’s efforts to ensure that early childhood development is seen in detail as a priority in the most diverse sectors of society throughout our annual report. Enjoy the read!
Since 2007, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation has focused on promoting early childhood development, a phase that goes from birth to 6 years of age. Studies indicate that this period represents a window of opportunity, crucial for early childhood development. The speed and complexity with which brain connections are established are unique to this age group. Recent research indicates that there are 1 million synapses formed per second and that 90% of brain connections are established by age 6.
Science proves that growing up in a welcoming, harmonious environment rich in positive experiences is fundamental for the well-being of children today and for them to have a future with more possibilities. On the other hand, living in a threatening atmosphere, permeated by violence, poverty, abuse, and neglect, can help to produce changes that negatively affect the child for life.
Such evidence makes investment in early childhood development something of an urgent matter. From there stems the purpose of Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation: develop children to develop society. To make this possible, we communicate with different sectors of society. It starts with scientific knowledge, supporting research and models, and translating up-to-date information so that the information reaches those who need it most.
By strategically advocating, we work with public and social leaders to promote structural changes that protect young children and their families. We currently promote partnerships with the private sector to increase impacts and leverage results. In this case, showing that adopting good corporate practices that value early childhood development always benefits children, families, and the companies themselves, by impacting productivity and improving employee retention.
The Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation also acts to educate society, primarily using opinion leaders, about the importance of the first years of a child's life. After all, the Brazilian Federal Constitution established it as everyone's duty – the country, families, and society – to ensure the rights and best interests of children and adolescents with absolute priority.
“Science tells us you can’t help little kids without helping the adults who are caring for them. Because kids are not helped by programs but they´re helped by people.”
Dr. Jack Shonkoff, M.D.
Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, USA
Our Goals for Impact
In the early childhood universe, we have set four goals that
will guide our initiatives until 2030:
Quality daycare for anyone who wants or needs it
and quality preschool for everyone
Guarantee quality early childhood education meeting the demand
for daycare and all children from 4 to 5 years old in preschool.
Strengthen those who care. Support the most
vulnerable families, from pregnancy up to 3 years of age.
Guarantee quality parenting services to all CAD enrolled families,
expectant mothers, and children up to 3 years old.
Early childhood development evaluation: what cannot
be measured cannot be improved
Implement an evaluation system for child development and early childhood education.
Everyone needs to know: what you experience during
early childhood impacts your entire life
Increase society's understanding of the impact that early
childhood experiences have throughout a lifetime.
A child’s brain is the most plastic in the universe. If your experience is full of talking, relationship building, social understanding, play, and imagination, the brain soars.
Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl, Ph.D.
Co-Director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington, USA
Watch the video with main achievements of Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation in 2019
This chart consolidates the achieved intermediate goals foreseen for the year. It was created to monitor the path that the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation is on to ensure the four major impact goals – Early Childhood Education, Parenting, Evaluation, and Communication – are achieved by 2030 (maximum value: 120%).
2019 projects covering the four impact goals of Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation
Performance by Territory
It is fundamental to organize people, resources, knowledge, and projects to improve public policy that enriches parenting and offers quality early childhood education services. Therefore, the strategy of Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation is to establish partnerships in the different regions of Brazil. Today, it operates in the cities of Boa Vista in the state of Roraima (RR), and São Paulo in the state of São Paulo (SP), and the state of Ceará (CE). It is from these coalitions that methodologies and tools are tested so that they can gain scalability and leverage results, benefiting more children and families. Click on the map below and learn more about our work in each of these locations.
Boa Vista (RR)
Almost ten years ago, a survey by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, in Portuguese) indicated that approximately 66% of Boa Vista’s population was enrolled in the Federal Government’s Social Assistance Database and the Bolsa Família Program (Family Allowance Program, in English — a social welfare program of the Government of Brazil). They lived in conditions of social vulnerability, which demonstrated the importance of programs and policies directed towards families with children up to 6 years old.
In 2013, with the creation of the Programa Família Que Acolhe (FQA, in Portuguese) – a policy that guarantees integrated access to health, education, and social development – Boa Vista started to stand out for early childhood development care. Also, since signing the partnership with the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation (and other organizations) in 2018, Boa Vista started implementing the home visiting program. The program aims to strengthen the bond between parents and caregivers and stimulate early childhood development. In 2019, it reached 1,896 beneficiary families.
The qualification of early childhood education services has also been addressed in this partnership. Assessment tools have been adapted and validated. A quality monitoring system was created to follow the environments, processes, and children. In 2019, 50 preschools participated in that evaluation process, the curriculum was aligned to the Brazilian Common Core Curriculum (BNCC, in Portuguese), and the educational network professionals have been trained. All these characteristics plus the municipality’s openness to converse with academia made Boa Vista a fertile territory for the marriage of science and execution in the field of public policy, elevating existing programs with scientific evidence and robust assessment models, with widespread territorial coverage.
As part of the territorial systemic intervention strategy, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation entered into a partnership with the city of Sobral (CE), in March 2019. Then, in October 2019, the Foundation also partnered with the State of Ceará to contribute to comprehensive early childhood development by creating joint projects and actions with the state government.
Ceará is a state with local installed capacity. It has the conditions to carry out different types of initiatives, combined with the political will to expand, assess, and qualify early childhood care. At the same time, there is a powerful coalition and collaborative program established with all 184 municipalities of Ceará.
The State of Ceará also stands out for valuing and guaranteeing early childhood education as a fundamental right. The state is recognized for emphasizing the family bond and enhancing the training of the professionals linked to children. The training includes actions that enable psychomotor, socio-cognitive, and emotional development through the Programa Mais Infância (More Childhood Program).
The local context was diagnosed in the first year of the partnership, which contributed to the strategic planning, with improvements related to early childhood actions in the State. The intervention is now in the planning stage.
São Paulo (SP)
Having the largest capital in Brazil and Latin America as an ally in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public policy aimed at early childhood development allows Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation to collaborate in overcoming the most diverse and complex challenges involving the realities of children and families in Brazil.
The city’s executive and legislative branches expressed a desire to invest in policy aimed at children up to 6 years of age. This desire resulted in a partnership being signed at the end of 2018. This partnership was formed to develop and qualify initiatives – such as the Plano Municipal pela Primeira Infância (Municipal Plan for Early Childhood Development) – and the Foundation offered direct support with elaborating the document.
The Foundation also contributed with the elaboration of the Protocolo Integrado de Atenção à Primeiríssima Infância (Integrated Protocol for Attention to Very Early Childhood Development). The protocol’s task was to structure an intra-governmental collaboration flow with services for healthcare, family assistance, and education already established in the city. It promotes friendly, comprehensive support to the target audience and is still in execution today. It has the capacity to be replicated for each level of government — municipal, state, and federal.
The activities of the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation are financed by the Trust (endowment), formed from the initial donation from the Foundation's founders and accumulated earnings. The Trust's resources are used to carry out its social activities in initiatives focusing on early childhood development care in Brazil. It also supports the framework for selecting, monitoring, and improving these initiatives, always maintaining the objective of perpetuating the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation.
The endowment has a representative governance structure and transparent process, involving the management department, the Investment Committee, and the Board of Trustees. The Trust is administrated and managed by outsourced companies, selected and contracted by the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation with the support of independent experts.
The Investment Policy defined by the Foundation governs the investment model and the limits allowed to managers and allocators, who seek to obtain the best long-term return within the contracted risk limits. The Board of Trustees also approves the use of the endowment’s resources annually, based on a budget prepared by the executive management, with the support of the Investment Committee and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of São Paulo.
In 2019, the Trust largely exceeded the target (National Wide Consumer Price Index, known as IPCA, +4.5%), with accumulated nominal income of 17.16% compared to IPCA of 4.3%. Considering the 36-month period was up at the end of 2019, the fund accumulated a yield of 46.3%, exceeding the target of IPCA+4.5% (27.4%) by 18.9%. The sharp drop in interest rates and the performance of the stock exchange contributed to the high accumulated result.
Considering the endowment’s “purchasing power,” after funding the activities of the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, it had an increase in its equity value adjusted for inflation (calculated in reais at the end of 2019 by the IPCA) of 508.9 million BRL at the end of 2016 to 554.5 million BRL at the end of 2018 and to 599.2 million BRL at the end of 2019. This indicated that, both in the three-year period and in the one-year period, generation and use of Trust resources were compatible with the objective of maintaining social activities and the continuity of the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation.
As of December 31, 2018, and 2019 (in thousands of reais)
Cash and cash equivalents
Bonds and Securities (Trust)
Total current assets
Deposits in court
Net fixed assets
Net intangible assets
Total noncurrent assets
Total current liabilities
Provision for contingencies
Total noncurrent liabilities
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND EQUITY
Sponsorship and donation revenue
Other revenue from activities
TOTAL – REVENUE
Sponsorship and donation
Taxes and fees
TOTAL – PROGRAM COSTS
General and Administrative
Taxes and fees
Depreciation and amortization
Total – administrative expenses
FINANCIAL INCOME AND EXPENSES
Net financial income
FISCAL YEAR SURPLUS
In the Media
Early childhood development as a whole and, specifically, the Foundation’s prioritized themes – early childhood education and parenting – were consistently receiving press coverage in 2019. The training programs for journalists and the strategy of approaching the main media outlets in the country help to explain the relevance and quality of the reports published on the topic throughout the year. In all, Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation was, in some way, involved in 50 published reports. Below are some of the highlights:
GloboNews Especial investiga o Programa Proinfância, que deveria construir creches no país (GloboNews Especial investigates the Proinfância Program, which is to build daycare centers in the country)See more
Investir em educação para a primeira infância é melhor “estratégia anticrime”, diz Nobel de Economia (Investing in Early Childhood Education is the Best "Anti-crime Strategy", says Nobel Prize of Economics Winner)See more
De falta de esgoto a moradores demais, os problemas de lares brasileiros que atrasam o desenvolvimento de crianças (From lack of sewage to too many residents, the problems of Brazilian homes that delay children's development)See more
In 2019, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation commemorated its 54th year. Our history began with a tribute: in 1965, banker Gastão Eduardo de Bueno Vidigal and his wife, Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal, created the Foundation in memory of their daughter Maria Cecilia, who died at the age of 13, a victim of leukemia. This hardship served as the Foundation’s motivation to encourage research in the field of hematology in search of effective treatments for the disease, until 2001. It all began with a laboratory forming a partnership with the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (FMUSP, in Portuguese), and, for almost 40 years, we have been active in promoting studies, translation, and the dissemination of knowledge in this area.
In 2007, we changed our trajectory and prioritized listening to society’s new demands. That’s when we embraced the cause of early childhood development, and this critical time span became our purpose, the beginning of a life that goes from birth to 6 years old. We always develop projects based on scientific evidence and support initiatives that cause undeniable and lasting impacts. We continue to search for new ways to add more and more value to the narrative of our leading motivators: young children. We want to continue spreading the idea that to sow complete development at this stage is to reap it for life.
However, even today, we make contributions to the hematology field out of respect for the will of our founders. In 2019, we donated 500 units of the card game P-TET – Instrumento Pediátrico Educativo para Trombose (“Pediatric Educational Tool for Thrombosis”), 250 in Portuguese and 250 in English – at the Hematology, Hemotherapy, and Cell Therapy Service of Hospital das Clínicas, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo (HCFM-USP, in Portuguese). The deck of cards contains a game of old maid and a memory game. It was designed to use play and interaction to inform children and their families about the symptoms of the disease and give recommendations on how to correctly follow the treatment and, thus, obtain better results.
Governance and Staff
The team is engaged, talented, and dedicated, and transforms values into attitudes. United for the common purpose of developing children to develop society; trustees, committees, and staff endeavor in projects that help change the reality of children and families.
The Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation thanks every institution, civil society organization, public and private manager, academia, media outlet, and a series of professionals who have joined forces in the past year, helping early childhood care to gain more and more ground in each sector and become a priority. With the support of this valuable network of partners, we can go further.