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StartSchool (Educational NGO)

Role: Design Leader for Academic Innovation (Education Design)

Date: 2017 - 2019

THE story

Peruvian society is very conservative and traditional, specially in rural regions. Students from public schools are formed to have a limited way of thinking about what they can achieve and what is expected of them. This, results in unmotivated young adults who prefer not to pursue their dreams nor solve challenges.


StartSchool is an NGO created in 2015 by students and alumni from Universidad del Pacifico. Its goal is to contribute to the Peruvian development by delivering innovation and entrepreneurship programs, training young leaders, unlocking their potential to do great things and promoting a culture of innovation from schools. Consequently, transforming the country's education through, empowering and positively impacting 4th and 5th year high school students so they can become agents of change. 

SSP Lego-22.jpg

StartSchool multi-disciplinary team in 2018

THE first challenge

As the Design Leader for Academic Innovation, I designed the programs, curricula, content and materials offered to students (and later on educators), with an approach based on Human-Centered Design, Design Thinking, Storytelling and Business Modeling. Students are encouraged to identify and understand problems among the student community and, at the same time, implement effective solutions through social innovation that solve these challenges.  

We started offering 3 programs for students from public schools, but launched new programs as challenges and needs arose. Within the next iterations, the programs focused to channeling social innovation inspired by the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals. 

social innovation

design your future

school project

  • Teams are challenged to identify problems and imagine possible solutions to transform their community.

  • During the process, students develop skills to cope with everyday life: Problem Solving, Leadership, Empathy and Teamwork.

  • The best teams across schools become candidates for the Samsung Innovation Contest, a contest for public school students nationwide.  

  • Students generate commitment to their community and empowerment to solve problems related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Students are challenged to put into practice the methodologies and skills developed to solve a specific problem at their school.

  • Through a detailed action plan and accompaniment in the implementation process, students must execute a complete project, from inspiration to implementation.

  • As output, the students generate a real and tangible positive change in the school.​

  • Create a space for reflection regarding the future to which students aspire.

  • Guide students in the recognition of their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Through self-assessment tools, self-discovery and action plans, students are empowered to pursue their dreams.

  • Support students in setting career goals and action plans.

Students from the first programs in Lima and me teaching

Example of one of the final solutions proposed by students of the Social Innovation Program.

Based on the persona they created (Bryan, a teenager facing gang issues and a criminal record), this team proposed an educational platform that also served as a “positive reformatory”, where teenagers could find training programs to learn technical skills and access job opportunities from allied companies willing to give them a chance to leave behind their gang life. 

THE second challenge

The NGO started with a financial model of member donations, however, after the first couple of years we were witnesses that it wouldn't last us very long. We decided to create short courses on topics that we managed and had commercialization potential in the market.

Our MVP was launched at Universidad del Pacifico, and included the following courses:

  • Social Innovation

  • Innovation Bootcamp

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Studying techniques

  • Storytelling for job interviews

  • Design Thinking for educators


Later on, we targeted those courses to private schools and universities, who we could charge a fee in order to cover the expenses from the public school programs which are free of cost. 

Innovation Bootcamp for students at Universidad del Pacifico

THE third challenge

We realized that the model where ourselves taught classes directly to students was not sustainable anymore, and that we needed to have ambassador within the schools to act as advocates for the methodology. 


Thus, we evolved the current program in order to:

  • Build a network of student advocates that act as tutors to other students

  • Involve educators in the process, as they would be in constant contact with students


This way, it is all integrated in a virtuous circle:

  • Students: developing life skills

  • Teachers: providing tools for teaching

  • Schools: enhancing their educational proposal

  • Society: strengthening an educational system with focus and problem solving

innovative teachers

Share our methodology, focus on innovation and importance of participatory classes with educators. Through training, teachers develop and strengthen their teaching capabilities and methodologies with an innovation approach, so they can implement them in their classes. 

Educators from different regions being part of the training process

student tutors

Train students so that they can act as StartSchool tutors and replicate the Social Innovation course at their school.

This way, it is possible to have a greater reach and impact, perpetuate a culture of innovation, skills development and social commitment within their school.

Student Tutors from the pilot held in Lima

THE fourth challenge

The NGO had impacted the lives of hundreds of young people in Lima, but had a greater challenge when reaching other parts of Peru. To achieve our challenge of national expansion, we needed to collect diagnoses of the different educational realities and establish strategic relationships with educational agents in each region.

As a starting point, we have carefully selected 3 regions to be our incubators and references for future expansion to other parts of the country. The programs were adjusted to provide examples and cases that students and teachers could relate to. 

Some of our members that came from rural regions of Peru helped get in contact with educational decision makers and start piloting the first classes. 


Students from Iquitos, a region in the jungle of Peru

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Students from San Martin, a region in the tropical highlands of Peru

the impact

years operating



members and










I stepped aside StartSchool during 2019 when the NGO had carried out several programs in 3 different regions and was ready to scale. 


In 2018, StartSchool was selected as one of the most innovative, sustainable and social impact projects at the "Volunteer Ideas" Contest of Banco de Credito del Peru. We won on the Education category, and were granted capital ($2K) and training from the bank's advisors. Thanks to this award, we could benefit +200 students from public schools in rural areas of  Peru. 

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