The Graded Scholar Program Provides Life-Changing Opportunities

The Graded Gazette

Leonardo Oliveira '14 speaks at the Graded Scholar Program Celebration Event.

“Graded empowered me to follow my dreams,” Luiza Vorckel '20, shared at the Graded Scholar Program Celebration Event last semester. 

In partnership with the Lemann Foundation, Graded has been providing scholarship opportunities to expand educational access to underrepresented students since 2000. Restructured in 2014, the Graded Scholar Program is a highly selective program that offers full-tuition scholarships beginning in grade 7, along with supplementary support, resources, and guidance.

Luiza, an Insper law student, was one of the 12 Graded Scholar Program alumni who spoke passionately about their Graded experiences on a panel at the school. During the event, current Graded Scholars interviewed program alumni, posing questions about their successes and the challenges they overcame. Luiza discussed receiving access to opportunities she never thought possible and gaining confidence in herself and her ability to make an impact in her community. Her story is just one of many inspiring tales told by alumni Graded Scholars.

Students interested in becoming Graded Scholars are encouraged to apply to the Graded Outreach Program, an 18-month immersive English language program for grade 5 students, which serves as the feeder to the Graded Scholar Program.

With more than 100 applications bi-annually, the Graded Outreach Program involves a rigorous selection process of academic testing, interviewing, and home visits to provide 10 candidates with the opportunity to attend on-campus English classes and eventually partake in electives and extracurricular activities with the Graded community. These students come from partner schools and NGOs in neighboring communities. At the end of the Graded Outreach Program, one to three students are selected to become Graded Scholars, contingent on contributions. 

Graded Scholar Program alumni panel in the Black Box Theater.

Middle School Teacher and Graded Scholar Program Coordinator Fabiola Oliveira has run the Graded Outreach and Scholar Programs for nine years. “The Graded Scholar Program aims to impact students as well as their families,” she said. “Through the exceptional educational experience Graded offers, scholars and the rest of the Graded community can be profoundly and positively changed. The more the program grows, the better it is for all individuals in our community.”  

Former Graded Scholars have gone on to attend universities worldwide. They continue honing the skills developed at Graded to excel in their careers, lifting up not only themselves but also, in some cases, their families and communities. 

“The program changed generations,’’ said Damaris Santos-Palmer '02. “Being at Graded helped me get a better job so I could then help my immediate and extended family and show my kids that it’s possible.” Damaris said that her Graded education helped her fulfill her dream of an academic career in the United States. After graduating, she attended Mount Holyoke College, where she earned a BA in anthropology and educational psychology. She later went on to obtain an MFA in social documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is now a senior producer at Collectively, Inc. 

Damaris Santos-Palmer '02 discusses her experiences at Graded and beyond.

The Graded Scholar Program relies on the generosity of the Graded community to provide these life-changing opportunities. Contributions may be made by: donating to the Graded Scholar Endowment, sponsoring a Graded Scholar yearly until graduation, or participating in special fundraising events.

One such event is the school's sold-out, upcoming Imagine the Next 100 Years gala, featuring a special violin performance by Graded Scholar Guido Sant’Anna '23. All proceeds from the gala go to support the Graded Scholar Program. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Graded Scholar Program or making a contribution, please contact Chief Development Officer Tracy Harrison at tracy.harrison@graded.br.