UMRio: Working in partnership with RPI
It may be the home to Copacabana Beach and the biggest carnival in the world, but Rio de Janeiro is a city of extreme contrasts. Not too far from its stunning coastlines and scenic tourist hotspots are the favelas, where 1.5 million of the population live in impoverished conditions.
It’s a shocking statistic that a third of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo’s population currently live in favelas; with many of the young people living there becoming involved in crime and drugs. As a result, schools are often shut down and parents fear for their children’s safety.
Driven by the desire to create a safe environment for these vulnerable young people, Robert Malengreau, who lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, set up the charity UMRio.
RPI’s unwavering support
Founded in 2011, Robert’s charity helps young people from some of Brazil’s most deprived areas to gain access to opportunities in education, employment and healthcare services.
In recent years, the charity has gone from strength to strength and in 2018, launched Project Blue. For the young people of Rio de Janeiro who obtain over 80% attendance in their rugby, English and supplementary education, this initiative provides the opportunity to visit the UK for a cultural, educational and sporting exchange programme.
Robert says this has helped the young people he works with to expand their horizons and motivate them to define their long-term, personal, academic and professional goals. He also adds that the programme has encouraged young people who abandoned school to return to education. But without the support of others, this wouldn’t have been possible today…
‘I have to impart the success of Project Blue to RPI – they were the first big company to embrace us and they have continued to be a champion of what UMRio is trying to achieve,’ he told us.
In fact, the initial link between RPI and UMRio was first forged when Will, the son of RPI’s CEO, Stuart Wilson, volunteered for the charity in 2016.
‘Will volunteered at a really important moment for UMRio’, explains Robert. ‘At the time, we were running as a voluntary organisation and had a limited capacity in terms of what we could achieve. Will was frustrated by that, so he helped us create a crowdfunding campaign, which was very successful.
‘Will was an incredible fundraiser – the kids still talk about him today. I have to say that he’s almost single-handily responsible for UMRio now running as a professional organisation, not just a voluntary-based one.’
A strong future
Moving forward, Robert has big plans for UMRio and, following the success of Project Blue, he hopes other companies will also be inspired to become champions.
‘We would love to replicate the relationship we have built with RPI,’ he says. ‘There are so many ways in which companies can help sponsor our young people to travel to the UK – they can spend a day in their offices and receive professional guidance. Both of which will go a long way in raising their aspirations and making a real difference.’
If you would like to partner with UMRio and find out more information visit: http://umrio.org/index.php/get-involved/corporate-support/