Education and Participation Award:

Itaú-CENPEC-UNICEF Partnership  


Marisa Eboli

Rosa María Fischer


FEA-USP Sao Paulo

Published in


This case describes an alliance forged by Banco Itaú, Brazil’s second largest private bank, CENPEC (Education, Culture and Community Work Study and Research Center), and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) to build and manage programs and projects intended to improve public education quality in Brazil.

This partnership started in 1993, driven by the Bank, which, at that time, was trying to streamline and focus its social engagement strategy. The first project launched was Roots and Wings, a program created to enhance public primary school teachers’ teaching training. This experience paved the way for the Education and Involvement Program, whose first order of business was to institute, in 1995, the Education and Participation Award to encourage grassroots organizations providing supplementing public schools’ education offerings.

After four award editions, the partners were amazed by the program’s quantitative and qualitative growth, as well as how significant the awards had become. In the wake of this success, Bank officials wondered how it should go about enhancing its social engagement, looking for new approaches, which would mean revisiting the partnership scheme.

This case helps class participants to understand how a partnership evolves dynamically as a result of their analysis of a number of business decisions, namely: a) linking the company’s social projects to its marketing strategies, and b) keeping the award program under CENPEC management or decentralizing associations, so as to secure greater legitimacy in the communities where the Bank operates. A case for or against these choices should be grounded on an understanding of the outer setting and the evolution of the Bank’s social projects and programs, as it intends to link them to their business strategies.