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First session of Crea+ Peru in 2009

November 28, 2023

Crea+: A Decade of Transformative Education Redefining the Meaning of Volunteering

By: Ana Gomez Garces (B'25)

After participating in Georgetown University's Global Competitiveness Leadership Program (GCL), Luis Miguel Starke, GCL 2009, was inspired to create Crea+ Perú, which has profoundly impacted the lives of over 100,000 beneficiaries and volunteers alike across 22 cities in Peru and 1 in Colombia. Crea+ Peru has successfully established multiple revenue streams that have enabled it to become the largest self-sustaining volunteer organization in vocational education in the country, employing over 20 dedicated individuals.

Crea+'s story began during Luis Miguel's time in GCL when he met Jose Miguel Ossa, another GCL 2009 participant who had initiated Crea+ in Chile with the aim of transforming math education through multidisciplinary workshops. At this time, participants would ideate, create, and develop a project while participating in GCL. Hearing about this impactful project, Luis Miguel, together with another GCL participant, Roberta Alcantara Machado, decided to collaborate with Jose Miguel to bring Crea+ to Brazil and Peru. They presented this joint initiative as part of the 2009 GCL culmination event under the title "Proyecto Creando Juntos”. Luis Miguel’s participation in the GCL program provided the inspiration and network required to make this idea become a reality that has now created over 10 years of impact in Peru.

In 2009, armed with an idea and plan, Luis Miguel returned to Peru with the determination to turn Crea+ Peru into a reality. To achieve this, he assessed the needs and motivations of both volunteers and school-aged children, designing a model to encourage motivation from both parties. Introducing the concept of "professional volunteering," where college-aged students and recent graduates committed to teach for 14 consecutive Saturdays about their career, talent, or passion, was a game-changer. These volunteers were called "Creandos," and Crea+ formed a team of institutional Creandos that took on marketing, planning, financing, and other essential operational roles. These volunteers underwent aptitude tests and admissions exams to join the program, revolutionizing the concept of volunteering and achieving tangible results. By redefining the meaning and perception of volunteering, Crea+ increased participation, motivation, and retention rates. 

While mathematics support remained crucial, Crea+ Peru aimed to provide an education that stimulated children to explore different professions, passions, and talents while fostering core values of self-esteem, respect, and solidarity. The organization went beyond traditional sessions, incorporating multidisciplinary workshops that lasted 14 weeks, allowing students to choose one of them based on their interests. The workshops covered diverse topics such as traditional dance, painting, architecture, and more, culminating in a closing ceremony where each workshop presented its final deliverable.

In 2013, with an initial mission accomplished, Luis Miguel sought to make Crea+ economically self-sustainable. He quit his job and used his life savings to expand this venture. He mobilized 6,000 Creandos in 13 schools across 7 cities in Peru. Despite challenges related to the pandemic, Crea+ persisted. They formed alliances, recruited 15,000 volunteers, secured a $1 million donation, and provided 3 million tablets to students from 18 schools nationwide. A YouTube channel facilitated the continuation of classes and workshops, maintaining the connection between students and “Creandos” volunteers.

And Crea+ did not stop there. In 2018, Luis Miguel conceived a new program, "Somos uni," adapting the same model that had been successful for young children to focus on helping elderly individuals facing adversity. Cohorts of volunteers now provide workshops on cognitive, socio-motor, and emotional development in shelters. In 2021, after a successful implementation in Peru, Crea+ expanded to Medellin, Colombia. Luis Miguel’s next dream is to continue expanding to more countries, targeting different groups and beneficiaries. His ultimate goal is to have a diverse platform of volunteers from various professional backgrounds who use their skills and passion to advance learning and multiply impact across the region. 

Congratulations, Luis Miguel, on your dedicated and passionate execution of Crea+ over the past 10 years. This project serves as a shining example of how GCL can educate, connect, and inspire leaders, fostering networks that amplify long-lasting impact.

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