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Mobis, founded by Diana Engel Gerbase ’16SIPA, is a nonprofit social venture devoted to spread of democratic civic education to Brazilian high schools.

Although Brazil’s constitution emphasizes the development of knowledgeable and prepared citizens as one of the main objectives of the country’s educational system, there is no national public policy making this happen since the constitution was instituted 29 years ago. Every year, 2.1 million students graduate from high school in Brazil without any civic education.

Without a robust civic education, citizens face serious difficulties in adequately holding public officials accountable, guaranteeing quality of government and making sure that public policies and resources are directed towards its original goals. So, Mobis researches and develops experiential programs and lesson plans in civic education and then distributes them online for free to educators all over the country.

In 2015, Mobis’ ran its pilot program at Colégio Estadual Florinda Tubino Sampaio, a public school in Porto Alegre, reaching 104 high school freshmen divided in 5 groups. The curriculum was focused on each group of students solving a real problem in their community while learning and applying rules and principles of the Brazilian democracy. In parallel, students had access to four local civic leaders, who discussed social change and social entrepreneurship with them. Throughout the pilot, Mobis produced 50 hours of program content that can now be distributed to other schools. After the program, 53% more students said they saw themselves as the sovereigns of the Brazilian state and felt responsible for it. Also, 19% more students said they felt inclined to participate in political and civic actions. Mobis also had a 89% satisfaction rate and a 90% recommendation rate.

“This project should go to many schools, because it incentivizes us to get moving. And let’s make it happen! Let’s do things for our community! This is also for us: we are fulfilling our role as citizens,” said Isadora Nascimento – High School Freshman

With these great results in hand, Mobis is focused on establishing itself as an organization in Brazil, including launching its online presence and our open educational resources platform. Since 2016, Mobis has fundraised; established important local partnerships and connections; incorporated; hired team members; and set up an advisory board, a board of directors and a fiscal board. Mobis is now working from an incubator at a local university (Raiar at Tecnopuc, PUC-RS) while developing its official launch with a crowdfunding campaign that will be online in November 2017.

Columbia community: Columbia and SIPA were fundamental in helping me develop Mobis. I chose to come to Columbia and to SIPA among other public policy schools because it was the only one that combined four fundamental things that I wanted to get out of the master’s degree: (i) global reach and the ability to stay connected to Brazil; (ii) curricular flexibility to focus on the issues that interested me the most, which were political science, education, and social entrepreneurship; (iii) hands-on professors who had constant field experience and weren’t talking about policy only from a theoretical point of view, and (iv) a very, very strong social entrepreneurship program.