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Vera R. Cordeiro

Dr. Vera Cordeiro, MD and general practitioner, graduated in 1975 from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. For 20 years, she worked at the Hospital da Lagoa, in Rio de Janeiro, founding in 1979 the first Psychosomatic department in a public hospital in Brazil.

In 1991, she founded the Dara Institute, a civil society institution that works to promote health and human development to fight poverty among the most miserable families in Brazil and other countries. Over the course of over three decades, Vera has enabled the creation of 23 similar organizations near public hospitals in 6 states in Brazil and has inspired other social entrepreneurs who have spread the methodology in many countries all over the world. The methodology became public policy in Belo Horizonte, state of Mina Gerais in 2009 and in Itú in 2023, state of Sao Paulo.

Dr. Vera is an Ashoka fellow, an Avina leader, a Skoll Foundation awardee, Schwab Foundation social entrepreneur. She is also a member of the Ashoka World Council and an honorary member of the Rio de Janeiro Academy of Medicine. Former member of the board of PATH: Catalyst for Global Health from 2005 to 2011.

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Dara Institute
Non-profit Social Enterprise
Global Health; Youth Perspectives
Areas of Impact
Latin America, Brazil

Dara Institute

The Dara Institute is a civil society organization that serves to promote health and human development through the implementation and dissemination of an integrated approach to combating poverty. A pioneer in the world in intersectoral work with social determinants of health, Dara was founded by Dr. Vera Cordeiro in 1991 with a group of professionals from the Hospital da Lagoa, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


As poverty is multidimensional, Dara believes that the social transformation of vulnerable families is only possible when different areas of human development are addressed simultaneously and in an integrated manner. Therefore, Dara developed the social methodology - "Family Action Plan" - designed according to the needs of each family. The Family Action Plan (PAF) consists of the participatory creation of goals and actions included in the areas of health, housing, income, citizenship and education, aiming at the autonomy of families facing social vulnerability and their development. The PAF is recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and intersectoral approach to poverty alleviation.


Also, the Dara Institute leads and encourages people's participation in efforts to create a more equitable and sustainable society. It creates spaces for volunteers, companies and public and private organizations to participate in, and promotes awareness and mobilization campaigns on key issues related to poverty, social inequality and human development.


To implement its mission, the institute works with the direct care of vulnerable families, the dissemination of knowledge and information about human development, influencing public policies and the mobilization of civil society. Dara's methodology became public policy in Belo Horizonte in 2009 and in Itú in 2023, and its long-term impact was proven by researchers from Georgetown University.


In 2022, Dara started a consultancy service in the social assistance facilities led by the National Secretariat of Social Assistance (SNAS) of the Brazilian federal government. That year it also signed an agreement with the Rio de Janeiro Court System for children, youth and the elderly to attend extremely vulnerable families and, in 2023, it became one of the few Brazilian organizations to join the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC).


In March 2023, Dara's Knowledge Hub was officially launched. This new strategy is based on the recognition of its 32-year track record and impact in poverty reduction, health and human development and its convening power, the result of its reputation as a leading social change civil society organization. And so is the implementation of the Family Action Plan in Vila Geny, a community of the municipality of Itaguaí (State of Rio de Janeiro), a partnership with Vale. 


Dara's impact in numbers: in Brazil Dara transforms the lives of more than 85 thousand people directly. Other Social entrepreneurs learned with Dara, the DNA of their social methodology and implemented it in 4 continents for the benefits of thousands of people.


Only in South Africa more than one hundred institutions use the DNA of their social methodology as Laura Bergh, chief Enabler from the Greenlight movement, says: "The social methodology Plano de Ação Familiar (the family action plan) a pioneer in the world to combat poverty was developed by Vera Cordeiro, a Brazilian social entrepreneur and physician and her team, from Saúde Criança, (now Dara Institute).”


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