Announcing the 2023 Brazil Early Childhood Reporting Fellows

The Dart Center has announced the recipients of the 2023 Brazil Early Childhood Reporting Fellowship. The fellows will report stories across Brazil to illuminate the effects of inequality on young children’s growth and development, and the well-being of their caregivers. Learn more about the 15 fellows and their projects below.


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The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma has announced the recipients of its 2023 Brazil Early Childhood Reporting Fellowship. The program will support 15 Brazilian journalists undertaking projects at the intersection of young children and inequality in health, education, housing, food security and social and emotional well being, as well as the effects on caregivers.

Fellows will report stories on lack of sanitation and its effects on children in the Brazilian Amazon, on children who are orphaned due to violence, on the effects of pesticide use and the effects of abandonment on young children living in institutions. 

“At Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation we believe that a press which is sensitive to the topic of early childhood is an indispensable actor in the social change we want to see. The good work of the media presents and clarifies urgent agendas and mobilizes different groups in society. On top of the usual challenges are the multiple consequences of three years of pandemic, which has been detrimental to children ages 0 and six years old in socially vulnerable situations. Our role is to help the gears to turn, with information and training that foster deeper understanding. We want this initiative to be an opportunity for learning, intellectual exchange and interaction between journalists,” said Mariana Montoro Jens, Communication and Government Relations Director at Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation

"Around the world, this is a difficult time for young children and their caregivers. Escalating adversity in early childhood — whether from war, civil conflict, economic inequality, violence, the pandemic or environmental disasters all have a lifelong impact. The extraordinary journalists chosen for the Dart Center’s Brazil Early Childhood Reporting Fellowship are deeply committed to illuminating these critical issues, drawing on evidence-based science and policy to and produce reporting that makes a difference in their country and region," said Bruce Shapiro, the Dart Center’s executive director.

The Fellowship, which runs from May through November, is led by veteran journalist Fábio Takahashi in collaboration with Mariana Kotscho, Daniela Tófoli and Paula Perim. 

Fellows will receive a stipend of $1,500 USD as well as coaching and mentorship by senior journalists. Fellows will attend monthly webinars with Brazilian and international experts in the fields of science, education, public health and journalism.

This Fellowship is part of the Early Childhood Journalism Initiative, a multi-year Dart Center training program to improve news coverage of early childhood development around the world. The Fellowship has been made possible by generous grants from the Bernard van Leer Foundation (Netherlands), the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation (Brazil), and The Two Lilies Fund (United States).

Below are the 15 fellows and brief descriptions of their projects, alongside introductions to the faculty:


Manuella Antunes is a journalist who graduated in 2008 from the Universidade Católica de Pernambuco and post-graduated in Business Communication from Faculdade Frassinetti in Recife. With 15 years of experience in newsrooms, she worked at Jornal do Commercio (PE), TV Jornal (PE) and is currently an editor at TV Globo Recife, where she has also produced reports for local and national newspapers since 2015.

Project: “Playing as a tool for learning and building the subject” will be a special report for TV that aims to present playing as a right, presenting arguments from several specialists in the subject that support the importance of playing in the formation of citizenship. And, of course, present what is missing and what already exists.

Fernanda Bastos is a freelance journalist who lives in Brasília. With a year of graduation in journalism, she covered the presidential inauguration of 2023 and the repercussions of anti-democratic acts in Praça dos Três Poderes.

Project: The project will be reporting on mothers of children aged 0 to 6 living in Sol Nascente, the largest favela in Brazil, located 35 km away from Praça dos Três Poderes, in the center of Brasília. The objective is to show the history of these women and what their daily lives are like in order to try to guarantee basic and social rights for their families. The material will be published in text and video format.

Lianne Ceara is a freelance journalist and author of the book-report “Memórias Interrompidas,” about Jaguaribara, her hometown located in Ceará, which was flooded by the construction of a dam. She has already collaborated with Universa Uol, Piauí magazine, G1 Ceará and Diário do Nordeste.

Project: This project will be a report and mini-documentary on early childhood exposure to pesticides. The investigation will be carried out in Limoeiro do Norte, a city in Ceará with a high risk index due to poisons and where cases of malformation of babies are 75% more common than in the rest of Brazil.

Gessika Costa is a journalist with a postgraduate degree in Content Management. She has experience covering human rights, childhood, gender and race. Currently, she is project coordinator at Ajor, Associação de Jornalismo Digital and edits Olhos Jornalismo. She has published for O Estado de S. Paulo, Portal Terra, Yahoo, Agência Pública and Ponte Jornalismo.

Project: This project will investigate the harm caused by eating sururu in the development of children aged 0 to 6 years. The mollusk, considered Intangible Heritage of Alagoas, is taken from Mundaú Lake, a place with a high rate of mercury contamination in Maceió.

Nelson Enohata is a producer of documentaries about childhood, education and art. In the 1990s, on MTV Brazil, he addressed topics such as “Use condoms” and “Conscious vote.” Between 2010 and 2021, he launched the series “É a Vovozinha” (TV Brasil) and Canal Ávida (Facebook) – which discussed “aging well.

Project: This documentary miniseries will listen to children, whether through words or what is not said. Questions such as “what do you think of adults?”, “what is your biggest fear”, “what if you didn't remember things?” will be worked on in testimonials and intergenerational dialogues.

Leticia Ferreira is a trainee at Folha de S.Paulo, content analyst at Editora Trip and member of AzMina magazine, in the position of reporter and distribution strategist. She is currently an audiovisual producer at Hard News de MOV, UOL's video production company.

Project: This project is an X-ray of street children in all Brazilian capitals and the Federal District, with the most up-to-date data available for all 27 chosen cities


Ligia Guimaraes is a freelancer with 18 years of experience working as a journalist in large media companies. She was an editor at BBC News Brasil for almost five years, until April 2023; before, Valor Econômico, G1 and Gazeta Mercantil. Aficionada about Brazilian inequalities with an MBA in economics. He was a 2016 fellow of the Tow-Knight for Entrepreneurial Journalism, at the City University of New York, and a 2018 ICFJ fellow of the "Early Childhood Development Reporting Fellowship" program.

Project: This multimedia report will show inspiring cases on how neuroscience in Brazil is "restoring" circuits in the brains of children who did not have the right conditions at the beginning of life, giving them back the chance to learn, fulfill dreams in adult life and break cycles of poverty.

Patricia Volpi has been working at TV Globo São Paulo for 25 years. She has already worked in the production and editing of all local and network shows and currently is the text editor at SP2, focused on special stories and series.She was responsible for the SPTV 40th anniversary series. She took several screenwriting courses for TV and cinema at Globo itself and at the International School of Cine and TV in San Antonio de Los Baños, Cuba. She is a graduate in Journalism from Faculdade de Comunicação Social Cásper Líbero.

Project: This project will show the consequences of early childhood abandonment. She will speak with doctors, psychologists and social workers the physical and mental health issues of children and adolescents who live in shelters in São Paulo. And show how abandonment, lack of love and basic care can reflect on the development of children and last into adulthood. She will also show how the judiciary system and society can work together to provide more shelter to sheltered minors.

Celia Fernanda Lima is a journalist from Pará with extensive experience in production and reporting in local newsrooms. She is the mother of a boy and a correspondent for Portal Lunetas, where she writes about environmental conflicts, education and culture in the lives of children, especially in the context of the Amazon.

Project: This project is a series of reports that will show the effects of the worst basic sanitation rates in the Amazon for the future of children living in the region, pointing out the direct impacts on health, school, cognitive and emotional development during early childhood.

Daniel Nardin is a journalist (UFPA) and master in communication (UnB) and society. She has twenty years of experience in the Amazon, with a background in the public and private sectors. Currently, she leads the Bem da Amazônia Institute, where she develops a platform for journalistic coverage of the Amazon through Solution Journalism and Amazônia Vox, a platform that seeks to strengthen the Amazonian protagonism in narratives about the region.

Project: This project will be a series of stories about the numbers and reports of the challenges of prenatal care coverage with mothers in Amazonian communities, especially in riverine locations, presenting the rates and consequences when this type of care is not provided. Through solution journalism, the series will detail the initiatives and responses to the theme, considering the logistical difficulties of the region.

Ruam Oliveira is a journalist who graduated from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, postgraduate in Scientific Journalism and Scientific Dissemination from Unicamp. Ruam studies at Literature at Mackenzie University and writes about education at with focus on SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), anti-racism, literature and technology.

Project: The podcast De 0 a 5 presents, in its second season, the way in which digital technologies – already present in the daily lives of most children – are inserted in their learning universe. The episodes will address the use of technology in and outside schools, how teachers prepare for this use and how some of these issues are crossed by different social markers.

Isabela Palhares is an education reporter at Folha de S.Paulo, responsible for covering all education levels, from kindergarten to postgraduate education, from public and private networks in the country. Previously, she has worked for O Estado de S. Paulo and was a fellow of the Early Childhood Development program at ICFJ.

Project: The series will be divided by rights that children are not guaranteed by climate risks.

Thaiza Pauluze is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro who lives in São Paulo and works as a report producer at GloboNews. A graduate from Uerj (State University of Rio de Janeiro), she was a reporter for Folha de S.Paulo for five years. She always covers public safety, violence and human rights.

Project: This project will be a series of reports about orphans of lethal violence and how the high Brazilian rates of femicides, homicides, murders and deaths resulting from police intervention leave a generation of babies and children without a father or mother.

Aline Sgarbi Tokimatsu is a journalist with 20 years of experience. She has worked for TV Gazeta, TV Cultura, SBT, SVT (Sveriges TV) and CNN Brasil, where she produced reports for television news and documentary programs. Mother of two, she began to pay more attention to issues involving social and gender inequality, and early childhood after motherhood.

Project: With contemporary urban life, motherhood has become even more a solo function. How does the social and gender inequality experienced by mothers, who are still primarily responsible for caring for their children, have an impact on promoting a more dignified and healthy childhood? The purpose of this multimedia report is to try to answer this question from the stories of those who live this reality.

Rafael Vazquez is a journalist with a postgraduate degree in Economic Analysis from Fipe/USP, and in International Information and Emerging Countries from the Complutense University of Madrid. He has been working as a reporter for Valor Econômico since 2016, where he has covered International, Finance and currently writes about macroeconomics, public policies in Brazil and foreign affairs.

Project: This project will investigate which countries have already identified the importance of early childhood as a priority target of public policy for long-term social and economic development, seeking to understand where and how Brazil is positioned in this context.

 Fellowship Faculty

The Fellowship will be led by Fábio Takahashi, a former editor at the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, where he ran the data journalism desk. Takahashi previously worked as an education reporter at Folha from 2003 to 2016, and helped create Folha’s University Ranking, Brazil’s most comprehensive evaluation of college-level institutions. Takahashi was a Spencer fellow at Columbia University 2016-2017.

He is also the founder and current president of Jeduca (the first association for education reporters in Brazil, the Education Reporters Association), which was launched in 2016. In 2013, he was the first journalist to attend the Executive Leadership Program in Early Childhood Development, a short course at Harvard University. Currently he works as a PR content manager at Loft.

Mariana Kotscho will serve as a story mentor for the Fellowship. Kotscho is a journalist with,  has 30 years experience as a reporter and television host, and has worked for several major TV Stations in Brazil, including TV Cultura and TV Globo.

She is the winner of the Vladimir Herzog Award for coverage of human rights issues for Globonews and a volunteer consultant at the Instituto Maria da Penha.

Kotscho created the program "Papo de Mãe," which covers topics related to education, behavior and child health. After 12 years on TV, Papo de Mãe is now UOL's partner website. On TV Globo (Bem Estar), Mariana Kotscho  is a commentator on family relations and violence against women. She is the mother of three teenagers: Laura, Isabel and André.

Paula Perim will serve as a story mentor for the Fellowship. Perim has over 25 years of experience in journalism, strategic communication, branded content, and communication for social causes. She holds a master's degree in Communication and Semiotics from PUC, a bachelor's degree in Journalism from FIAM and Photography studies, all in São Paulo, Brazil. Paula also completed executive courses in Marketing Strategy, at the London School of Economics; Publishing Magazines, at Yale University; Executive Leadership in Early Childhood Development, at Harvard University, and studies in Behavioral Economics and in Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC).

From 2017 to 2021, Paula worked as Communication and Awareness Director at Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, one of the most important organizations focused on Early Childhood in Brazil. Before that, Paula worked for 17 years at Editora Globo as editor-in-chief at Crescer (focused on parenting) and later became the publisher of a group of magazines: Casa e Jardim (decorating and gardening), Casa e Comida (cooking), Galileu (science and youth behavior), in addition to Crescer.  She is the author of the book "101 ideas to enjoy with your child - before he/she turns 10" and editorial director of the books: "Babies of Brazil - A portrait of Brazil in photos and stories of 27 children" (partnership with UNICEF) and "Crescer por um mundo melhor” (“Growing up for a better world”). Paula began her career working as a producer at MTV-Brasil. She is the proud mother of Júlia and Beatriz.

Daniela Tófoli will serve as a story mentor for the Fellowship. Tófoli is an editorial director at the Brazilian publishing house Editora Globo, where she oversees work on Marie Claire, Quem, Crescer, Galileu, TechTudo, Casa e Jardim, Vida de Bicho and Monet. She is a member of Associação Nacional de Editores de Revistas, the Brazilian National Association of Magazine Editors. Her work has focused on the areas of parenting, family, health and education.

She has been an invited speaker on the subjects of maternity for fathers, as well as mothers and businesses. She is a weekly columnist for Rádio CBN and author of the blog “Mãe de Tween,” about pre-teens, on the website of the newspaper O Globo. She is author of the book "Pré-Adolescente: Um Guia Para Entender Seu Filho” (“Pre-adolescent: A Guide to Understanding Your Child”). Tófoli is a graduate of the faculty of communication at Casper Libero College, a private university in São Paulo, and completed a magazine publishing course at Yale University. She is also the mother of 12-year-old Helena.

This Fellowship program is part of “The Early Childhood Journalism Initiative,” a multi-year Dart Center training program to improve news coverage of early childhood development around the world. This initiative has been underwritten by the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation (Brazil), the Bernard van Leer Foundation (Netherlands) and The Two Lilies Fund (United States).