How is born this foundation ?
Ayrton always had the desire to do something great for Brazil. It was his way of giving back the love the Brazilian public had always shown him, and to contribute in an effective way with the country he loved so much. So, in 1994, before the start of the Formula One season, he talked to my mother, Viviane Senna, and asked her to think about something they could create to address those issues. They decided to keep talking about it at the end of the season. Unfortunately, the accident took place on May of that year. But she kept my uncle’s dream alive and, in November 1994, the Ayrton Senna Institute was founded – an organization focused on developing the potential of our future generations through quality public education.
What are the foundation’s goals? Have they changed during the last years?
The mission of the Ayrton Senna Institute is to help our future generations fulfill their potential, which can only happen through quality public education. We started with small projects, but we soon realized that, by doing that, we could make a difference in the lives of a few people, but we wouldn’t be addressing the real needs of Brazil. So, in 1996, my mother transformed the Institute into a laboratory of sorts, developing vaccinations against the main diseases that affect our country’s education, such as illiteracy and high drop-out rates. Since then, we’ve been acting in tandem with public school systems, because 85% of Brazil’s children and teenagers are enrolled in public schools, and that’s where we should act in order to effectively transform the reality we experience here. This model allows us to benefit more than 1.5 million students a year. And we also work in other fields to improve education in Brazil, such as research and the production of new knowledge. We also lobby to influence public policy geared towards education.
When we see Senna’s family and her history, it’s obvious that each member is involved in. How?
The Ayrton Senna Institute has always been a Senna family Project. It’s the greatest legacy of our three-time champion, something created for the Brazilian people. My mother, Viviane Senna, has been the president ever since the beginning, in 1994. My grandmother, Neyde Senna, works everyday taking care of all the projects related to the Ayrton Senna Memorial (all the pictures posted on the website and on social media, as well as the images that we license for products, go through her). I’m the current Branding Director, responsible for the Ayrton Senna Institute, Ayrton Senna and Senninha brands. My sister, Paula Senna, is a member of the council, and everyone in the family is involved in one way or another.
How does the foundation works? This one works in collaboration with the State, how has it been done? Was it necessary?
As I’ve mentioned, the Ayrton Senna Institute works alongside public school systems in every region in Brazil. We always focus on the big picture. By capacitating educators, like school managers and teachers, we bring quality education to Brazilian public schools. Real change only takes place when we are able to engage the whole public education system towards a single purpose: to transform the lives of children and young people through education. We measure our success by the educational evolution of our students, and as long as 100% of them are not being offered a quality education, we will not be satisfied.
We know so much but so little things about our Formula One champion and his family. What kind of education did Viviane and Ayrton receive? Is this the origin of this philanthropy and this vision of seeing things?
Ayrton and Viviane always had access to good schools. Ayrton, for instance, was convinced this was a key factor for the success he achieved in life. He always said that opportunities are crucial for anyone to become successful, and he couldn’t stand the fact that most Brazilians were deprived of a full development that could result in greater opportunities in life. This was the seed of what eventually became the Ayrton Senna Institute.
In which environment Ayrton and Viviane have evolved ? We feel a strong family able to recover from difficulties. The desire to offer and to help came from this?
When faced with obstacles, we’ve always chosen to fight. It’s one thing to rebel and not accept the realities of the world; it’s another thing to pause, think, reflect and build something that contributes for a better world. That was the option we chose.
A sentence? A state of mind to sum up Ayrton Senna? And the foundation?
Ayrton Senna has always been love. On the track, he was a, extremely dedicated professional, tirelessly working to get the best from himself and from his team. He was very talented, but he wouldn’t have been one of the best of all time if he didn’t have dedication. Off the track, he was an amazing person. He loved Brazil and he had a special affection for our children. He couldn’t accept the social inequality we face here. Ayrton’s restlessness and his dream to see a better country for everyone were the genesis of the Ayrton Senna Institute, which has been working for over 25 years to improve the education of millions of Brazilians. Today, we help more than 1.5 million children and young people all over Brazil, by training more than 60 thousand teachers – more than all Brazilian Pedagogy schools combined. But we know we have a long way to go before we reach the ideal level. And, to get there, we count on everyone’s support.