Teresa Boullón

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Teresa Boullón was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Teresa Boullon, through her organization ReCreo, is showing parents, teachers, communities, and the government that reading is a tool for reviving low income and failing communities and countering a culture of dependency on handouts. In areas of Peru where there is little access to books, much less a culture of reading, Teresa is bringing community stakeholders together to change that. By removing physical, intellectual, and cultural barriers to literacy, ReCreo works with residents to create their own channels for acquiring listening and reading skills. Through that experience, citizens see they are able to change a fundamental problem in their own communities. Learning from that success, community members feel ready to take on other community challenges.

To reinforce the work in low income communities, Teresa is building national movement where reading is not only accessible for all, but even “cool.” To do this, Teresa works on the national and local level. Nationally, through her “1 Million Young Readers” campaign, Teresa is activating citizens to hold the state accountable in improving the quality of the education system. Locally, Teresa works with community members on multiple levels to together to tip towards a reading culture. This includes: retooling school curriculums, with the buy-in of principals; building school libraries, with the support of teachers and parents (mostly single mothers) from waste materials; and working with these parents and the local government to ensure the transformations are permanently adopted.

In this way, Teresa is making space for reading. By working with different actors in a way that is uniquely appealing to each, she involves them in reading so they become multipliers. She has given companies’ corporate responsibility arms an important project in launching and stocking libraries; she offers mothers and teachers new was of earning income through spreading reading and library building skills; she is showing the Ministry of Education a way to improve learning; and she proposes to municipalities a way to strengthen social fabric in low income communities. However, most importantly, Teresa’s work is offering citizens practice in resolving their problems, thereby gaining confidence in their own skills and in their ability to demand support from key allies. The model is already being taken up across Peru, and she has invitations to spread to other countries in Latin America.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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