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Nonprofit created by MBA student supports Colombian public education

Nonprofit created by MBA student supports Colombian public education

Founder Emanuela Rossi, BBA '16, in Colombia last summer.

By Whitney Critten |  Student reporter

Inspired by childhood summers spent in her mother’s home of Colombia, graduate student Emanuela Rossi, BBA ’16, founded 1064 Givers— a nonprofit organization that seeks to support Colombian public schools’ efforts to offer K-12 students a safer and more sustainable environment where they can thrive.

Rossi first became involved with public education in Colombia after volunteering as an English teacher at Institucion Educativa Enrique Olaya Herrera in 2013.

“This first-hand experience showed me how the Colombian school system worked and also showed me how the lack of infrastructure negatively impacted how students learned,” says Rossi. In addition to founding 1064 Givers with Genta Mecolli, BA ’16, in fall 2015, Rossi is the president of the International Business Society within Quinlan’s Center for International Business while Mecolli is a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

Here, Rossi discusses 1064 Givers, public education in Colombia, and how support from Quinlan is helping 1064 Givers achieve its mission.

How does 1064 Givers work?

1064 Givers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds primarily through public donations and occasionally through special events. All funds go to public schools in Colombia to improve the environments in which students learn, through actions such as installing solar panels so students can have electricity at school.

In addition to founding 1064 Givers, Rossi and Mecolli created 1064 Co., a benefit corporation to raise capital for 1064 Givers through the selling of unique, handmade goods such as bracelets, bags, and purses online and at special fundraising events. 1064 Co. is allocating 20 percent of profits generated from sales to further the mission of 1064 Givers.

Currently, e-commerce operations are on hold due to a successful fundraising event at Quinlan back in February, in which 1064 Co. sold out of its inventory. However, founders Rossi and Mecolli say they hope to have more inventory very soon.

What’s the significance of the name?

The name comes from Colombia’s education law 1064, which was passed in July 2006. This law guarantees all Colombian children the right to a technical education that equips them with labor skills upon graduation of high school. These job skills will help millions of low-income Colombian students pull their families out of poverty.

And while the law made improvements to public education in Colombia, 1064 Givers intends to help more students achieve their dreams by improving classroom conditions that might otherwise distract students from learning such as lack of electricity and overcrowding.

Rossi adds, “While access to a technical education is wonderful, we believe that Colombian students also need access to a professional education so that they can become doctors, lawyers, or engineers.”

What are the next steps for 1064 Givers?

Rossi and Mecolli have been in consistent communication with a few Colombian schools, their students, and the parents of the students.

“We have made this a priority because in order to have a lasting impact in Colombia, we need stakeholder engagement and strong community support to solve the issues facing Colombian public schools,” says Rossi.  

Recently, 1064 Givers received formal approval from the State of Illinois to operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Currently, Rossi and Mecolli are in the process of organizing next steps, but remain very excited and hopefully about their organization.

How has Quinlan helped 1064 Givers?

Rossi and Mecolli have received input and guidance from multiple Quinlan professors, including Ugur Uygur, John Caltagirone, Peter Norlander, Dawn Harris, and Eve Geroulis.

“Their input allowed us to see and think with different views and perspectives, and helped to develop our strategic strategy, reflect on mistakes, and ultimately how to make the necessary adjustments to improve 1064 Givers,”  says Rossi.

Rossi adds, “We’ve also received assistance with fundraising initiatives from Professor Mine Cinar, the International Business Society, the Quinlan Graduate Office, as well as The Graduate International Club.”