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Rodrigo Baggio  

Founder, Committee for Democracy in Information Technology

To his friends and colleagues, bringing computer technology and skills into the slums of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, was an absurd idea. Also known as the favelas, the poorest area of the city had no way of receiving such education, until Rodrigo Baggio, born in 1969, started the Committee for the Democratization of Information Technology (CDI), a concept that came to him in a dream while he was employed as a computer teacher for an elite school. After he dreamed of poor children writing their stories on computers, he immediately decided to use his expertise in empowering the underprivileged instead of the privileged. The CDI offers training courses staffed by local teachers from each community. After training the teachers, the program pays them $200 a month (twice the average public school system salary). Students pay $10 a month to receive bi-weekly classes on the skills required for basic word processing, spreadsheets, accounting and graphics. Baggio acquires schoolrooms as donations from churches or other educational organizations, and has been greeted with an overwhelming participation from businesses in their donation of computers and educational materials. The idea that was once considered frivolous and impossible has launched 753 schools, servicing over 48,000 children in 10 different countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Amongst the abundance of recognition and support Baggio has received, Time Magazine named him as one of the 50 leaders in Latin America that will make a difference in the third millennium, and the Skoll foundation gave him their Social Entrepeneur Award in 2005. Rodrigo Baggio has brought opportunity and empowerment to the favelas. Perhaps more importantly, he has excited children and teenagers about learning, saving them from a listless future of detrimental influences by giving them the invaluable alternative of self-confidence and progress.

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