Laspau Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Gabriela Montero in Concert

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, October 1, 2016- Laspau is celebrating fifty years of providing individuals and institutions with quality higher education opportunities across the Americas. In order to commemorate this important milestone, Laspau is pleased to feature the world-renowned pianist and Latin Grammy Award winner Gabriela Montero in concert at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre on Monday, October 17th at 4pm.

Ms. Montero is celebrated for her ability to improvise, composing and playing new works in real time as well as for her sustained efforts to advocate for human rights, as evidenced by her 2015 appointment as the first “Honorary Consul” of Amnesty International. She is the recipient of the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contributions to the arts and played at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration.

“Laspau is honored to be able to celebrate this momentous occasion with such an accomplished artist who also has a deep commitment to Latin America.” notes Angélica Natera, Laspau’s Executive Director.

Laspau started in 1965 as a bold educational experiment to bring 39 Colombian students to pursue undergraduate degrees at universities in the United States. Since then, the organization has helped open educational opportunities for thousands of individuals from Latin America and the Caribbean and built a network of over 1,000 institutions, 17,000 scholars and 5,000 educators devoted to building knowledge-based societies across the Americas. The organization focuses on scholarship management, admissions testing, and university innovation. Each year, Laspau helps universities across the region to improve their quality and effectiveness by connecting them with the pioneering faculty.

Laspau collaborates closely with governments, foundations and educational institutions across the Americas including partners such as the Fulbright Program of the U.S. Department of State, the Organization of American States, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Enhancing learning in Brazil with Fabio Garcia Reis and the STHEM Consortium

Fabio Garcia Reis worked with Laspau to launch a customized University Innovation program for his institution. Reis went on to implement Peer Instruction and Active Learning in his classes at UNISAL and later helped to found the STHEM Consortium in Brazil which works to incorporate academic innovation into participants’ classrooms.

In a coffee shop near Harvard University back in 2010, Fabio Garcia Reis sat down with Boston College professor, Liz Reisberg, and Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera.

Reis had an idea. Fascinated by the participatory classrooms in the United States, so different from the lecture-based classrooms in his home country of Brazil, Reis wanted to bring together academic leaders from around the country to discuss and share different teaching methods.

“Math and Science are not discussed in Brazil in an effective way,” Reis explained. The professor wanted new ideas and resources to bring back home so he could enhance learning in Brazilian universities.
Laspau agreed.

“You have to participate,” Reis reminds his students on the first day of classes at UNISAL. “You are the protagonists of your own learning.”

Within a year of their coffee shop discussion, Laspau and Reis launched a customized University Innovation program.

It was during the University Innovation program that Reis met Harvard Physics and Applied Physics professor Eric Mazur. Professor Mazur introduced Reis to Peer Instruction, a teaching methodology he developed to help improve learning by encouraging discussions and interactions between students, even in large, lecture-sized classes. The professor, Mazur explained, should not be the keeper of knowledge but someone who builds and shares knowledge with students.

“This is simply not possible to apply in Brazil,” some of Reis’s colleagues told him when he began exploring how to apply the Peer Instruction and Active Learning methodologies to his classes at UNISAL – Centro Universitário Salesiano de São Paulo. “This isn’t Harvard; students and faculty are too attached to the traditional classroom structure where the professor lectures and students listen,” colleagues warned.

Their doubts were motivation enough for Reis.

After studying innovative teaching methodologies with a small group of professors for six months, Reis began to introduce the new ideas to his classroom. The results were positive. Reis noticed better engagement and improved satisfaction among his students. Others began to notice too.

“Have you ever considered forming a consortium?” Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera, asked Reis during a visit to Brazil.
This simple question brought about many potential complications. Consortia were not common in Brazil and even less common when trying to mix public and private institutions.

Never the type to shy away from a challenge, Reis, his fellow leaders, and Laspau launched the STHEM Consortium in March 2014. The Consortium works to incorporate academic innovation into participants’ institutions, and has done so with great success. The Consortium has been received by the Minister of Education of Brazil, who has even discussed the idea of using the Consortium’s results to help change Brazil’s educational standards.
Today, the STHEM Consortium has 35 institutional participants, impacting a total of 750 professors in 2015 alone.

“You have to participate,” Reis reminds his students on the first day of classes at UNISAL. “You are the protagonists of your own learning.”

Laspau Launches New Identity in Honor of 50th Anniversary

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, March 22, 2016- The new image as well as the new vision and mission statements and tagline “Connecting Higher Education Across the Americas” better reflect the range of opportunities offered by the organization as well as its valuable network of individuals, institutions, leaders and organizations devoted to building knowledge-based societies across the Americas. Today, Laspau connects individuals and institutions with opportunities through admissions testing, scholarship management, university development and alliance building. Through its human network, developed over the past 50 years, Laspau aims to drive innovation and facilitate stronger connections among higher education throughout the Americas in order to more effectively address issues of access, quality and relevance.

Laspau’s Executive Director, Angélica Natera, said of the new identity, “We are extremely pleased with the outcomes of this process and our refreshed identity will allow us to more clearly communicate our work and its impact, strengthen partnerships across the region and more effectively connect with supporters.”

Laspau was honored to carry out this rebranding process with Josh Levi of Joshua Levi Design and G. David Miles of Storychanger.

Laspau Signs Agreement with American Councils for International Education

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, December 20, 2015- On December 18th, 2015, Laspau and the American Councils for International Education shook hands and signed a five-year agreement of cooperation. For those familiar with Laspau and the American Councils for International Education, the agreement comes to no surprise.

For the past forty years, the American Councils, an international nonprofit located in Washington, DC, has been providing educational opportunities such as academic exchanges, overseas language immersion, and education development programs throughout over seventy countries. The nonprofit boasts of over 55,000 alumni worldwide, a group including government leaders, top international educators, business innovators, public officials, and K-12 students. All their work aims to broaden individual perspective, increase knowledge, and deepen understanding so that participants may leave programs feeling confident and ready to face the future, a goal almost identical to that of Laspau.

This agreement of cooperation between the two nonprofits will primarily focus on the creation of educational programs and administration for scholarships in higher education institutions in the United States. Through their partnership, Laspau and the American Councils will expand their institutional networks and merge their global expertise to create customized programs that meet the needs of the higher education systems in the Americas.

“We are proud and excited to partner with an organization like American Councils for International Education, which has had such an impact on international education over the past forty years,” Laspau’s Executive Director, Angelica Natera, shared when asked about the agreement. “We anticipate a long-lasting and fruitful partnership.”

Laspau, EDUCA and the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo open CONNECT DR program

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, November 24, 2015- Laspau and EDUCA, in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy of the United States, have inaugurated a unique program, CONNECT DR, to promote collaboration and knowledge exchange among leaders from the private sector, higher education, government and civil society.

CONNECT DR aims to foster collaboration among the private sector, higher education and government in the Dominican Republic as well as to increase exchange between the Dominican Republic and the United States. One of the long-term goals of the program is to create a sustainable ecosystem of collaboration between the private sector, the universities and the government of the Dominican Republic, in conjunction with the Embassy of the United States. This program will be centered on the implementation of President Obama’s signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, which is aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, increasing prosperity, and providing study abroad opportunities to better prepare a globally aware and culturally competent workforce.

The CONNECT DR program consists of two conferences that will feature a series of working roundtable discussions with the individual sectors as well as panel discussions. The first conference for the program was held on November 21st and 22nd, 2015 in Santo Domingo and featured prominent leaders from the private sector, government and local universities. The second conference will be held in 2016.

The partnership between Laspau and EDUCA effectively leverages the local and international of both organizations, and includes important support from the U.S. Embassy. EDUCA is serving as the local partner for the program and is ensuring the engagement of key stakeholders and decision makers in the Dominican Republic. The organization has extensive experience in the promotion of alliances between the public and private sector in education in the Dominican Republic. Laspau is serving as the international partner and facilitating the inclusion of key international experts in higher education in the discussions. Laspau has previously created contexts for successful collaboration between key stakeholders throughout the hemisphere and has access to an extensive international network of higher education experts.