Students in the Global Social Entrepreneurship VIP Publish New Children’s Book

Posted September 18, 2020

Students in the Global Social Entrepreneurship Vertical Integrated Project (VIP) have a new children’s book publication, “Scout's Superhero Search: The Birdieman of Rio de Janeiro.” The story is about Scout, an autistic child who has a superpower of finding real-life superheroes with the help of his grandfather, who visits him in his dreams.

“The book’s biggest mission is to change implicit bias about people who live in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, especially Afro-Brazilians who are portrayed as being criminals and lazy,” said Kirk Bowman, Jon R. Wilcox Term Professor of Global Development and Identity and VIP director.

Scout's mom is a pilot, and the family can fly around the world to meet these local superheroes.

Their first destination is Rio de Janeiro, where Scout meets Sebastião Dias de Oliveira, the founder of the Miratus Badminton Association in the favela of Chacrinha. Miratus uses badminton to keep kids involved in sports and away from drugs and crime, and has produced Olympic athletes and champions on and off the court.

"One of my favorite parts in the book is when Scout is trying to convince his parents to come along on this adventure to find this local superhero," said Brittany Adams, co-author of the book and fourth-year International Affairs student. "At first, his parents do not think it is a great idea and even fear going, but by the end, they too see why Sebastião is the real superhero of our society.”

Children's Book Series Background

Eight years ago, Kirk Bowman and Jon Wilcox, former CEO and director of California Bank, co-founded Rise Up & Care.

Rise Up & Care identifies innovative local nonprofits in the global south, invests in these long-term relationships, and inspires. It inspires others by creating documentaries and writing children's books.

“Scout's Superhero Search: The Birdieman of Rio de Janeiro” is the first in the book series to showcase these local nonprofits. 

Bowman and Wilcox wanted to increase children's literacy and celebrate local superheroes, so they launched this book series. They came up with the idea, but the VIP students are leading the initiative.

These 17 students come from different majors and use their skills to serve in branding, corporate relations, development, and Scout’s book team. The development and corporate relations team helped create the strategy to monetize the book by launching and crowdfunding the campaign. At the same time, the branding team selected the website platform and created a new newsletter.

“Brittany and I are part of the Scout book team, so we put in long hours of picking specific word choices to put on each page,“ said Sydney Blakeney, co-author of the book and third-year International Affairs student. “Since I was part of a larger team, it didn't register with me immediately that I was a published author.”

What’s Next

Students are beginning the book campaign by debuting their crowdfunding campaign and newsletter to increase sales. 

Following the book launch, the VIP program hopes to begin the process all over again by writing other books for superhero partners in Brazil and traveling to Colombia to scout innovative local nonprofits. 

In 2021, Kirk Bowman and Jon Wilcox’s book, Reimagining Global Philanthropy, is being published by Columbia University Press. In it, they discuss their philanthropic approach of maximizing efficiency and empowering local leaders.

“Over 20 years, we hope to partner with local nonprofits from across the globe and publish 40 children’s books and documentaries,” said Kirk Bowman. “We envision students creating this collective knowledge and collective strategies and methodologies that they then pass down to future generations who then modify, innovate, and improve and develop new projects.” 

Book Purchase Information

The book is available to purchase at Scout Heroes.  For every book purchased, two Portuguese language books will be distributed free of charge to families living in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The funds generated also help support Sebastião’s athletes tournament travel and provide COVID relief assistance.  To date, Sebastião and the young athletes distributed 72.5 tons of food.   


By: Jessica Palacios, marketing & event coordinator and Maria Winstead, third-year Interantional Affairs student

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First Row from left to right: Victoria Olaogun (architecture), Tajah Damm (biology), Swati Gupya (business administration), Brittany Adams (international affairs), Gina Lee (computational media), and Mehnaz Ruksana (computer science and industrial design)

Second Row from left to right: Kaylin Berinhout (economics and international affairs), Brian Lee (computer science and economics), Haley McElroy (business administration), Sydney Blakeney (international affairs), and Sam Chappell (international affairs alumnus)

Contact For More Information

Jessica Palacios
Marketing & Event Coordinator
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs