Shift is Going to Brazil

Shift is Going to Brazil

U.S. Department of State Selects Shift Collaborative for Economic Development Project in Brazil

  • Shift Collaborative among 45 entities chosen nationwide — and sole Pennsylvania selectee — to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program
  • YLAI empowers entrepreneurs across Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance entrepreneurial ideas and contribute to social and economic development
  • Shift to help YLAI Alumnus Rafael Perez and Porto Alegre’s Fourth District neighborhood with community planning May 28 – June 5

PITTSBURGH (March 1, 2018) — The U.S. Department of State has selected Pittsburgh-based Shift Collaborative as one of 45 businesses and nonprofits to implement entrepreneurial and community projects across Latin America and the Caribbean as part of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI).  

Shift will deploy its proprietary research and development program, exerciseSHIFT, a series of workshops and collaborative sessions design for meaningful engagement, to gain community consensus in the Fourth District neighborhood in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Meridian International Center and locally by GlobalPittsburgh, YLAI builds linkages between young leaders across the hemisphere and addresses the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering business and social entrepreneurs through exchanges between the United States and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.  In Pittsburgh, Shift was a YLAI U.S. Fellowship host to Rafael Perez, Founder and Managing Director of Point – Facilitação Criativa.  This reverse exchange will allow Shift to connect with Perez in-country.

“What Pittsburgh residents have learned is that a new economy brings new opportunities, new construction, and development that change the nature of existing communities,” says Eric Sloss, a partner at Shift Collaborative.  “Legacy residents, small business owners, community groups, and social services organizations need a voice in the changes that impact a community. We bring best practices and case studies about change happening in urban ecosystems and provide historical context that we all can learn from. Most importantly, we will learn from one another about how communities in cities can thrive in an new economy.”

Shift and its Brazil-based collaborator Point – Facilitação Criativa will implement a two-day “Hackatown” June 2 and 3 to bring together government, business, nonprofit, and community members and leaders to help create a Shared Community Vision for the neighborhood.  The “Hackatown” is modeled after “hack-a-thons” where developers and computer scientists gather to solve technical problems. Shift and Point will “hack” the Fourth District to solve community problems happening in the community.

Sloss will travel to Porto Alegre to meet with community groups, government officials and local businesses May 28 – June 5 to share best practices about how Pittsburgh transitioned from an industrial city to in international hub for technology, healthcare, and the arts.

Creating connections between Porto Alegre and Pittsburgh through meetings with government officials, companies, and NGOs — sharing lessons learned and best practices in economic development — will help to realize the Shared Community Vision, creating commitments between government, companies, and community members for the benefit of the community.

Rafael Perez, Founder and Managing Director of Point – Facilitação Criativa, said, “It will be an important opportunity to have Shift Collaborative in Porto Alegre to solve local community challenges. We face gentrification issues in our city and we see exerciseSHIFT as a good approach to solve these complex problems.”  Point trains people from large companies, startups, schools, and universities about how to communicate effectively through facilitation, meeting planning, and presentation development.

According to Sloss, the Fourth District is a post-industrial area near downtown that is attempting to transform itself using the technology economy to revitalize their community, a process that Pittsburgh has been going through for more than two decades.

Those interested in sponsoring or attending Hackatown POA can visit In an effort to learn more about both cities, citizens have the opportunity to send letters to those living in Pittsburgh and Porto Alegre through an art project called “cartas o rios, letters to the sea.” Each letter will be be sent a response from someone living and working in each city. Sloss plans to translate each letter as a way to learn Portuguese.

Project collaborators for the Hackatown include the U.S. Consulate Porto Alegre, Nós Coworking, Porto Alegre City Hall, Exo Cities, Agipla, Vila Flores 4º Distrito Association, IMED, SEBRAE, Cabify, Black Sheep, and Minha POA.

Shift Collaborative’s exerciseSHIFT and meaningful engagement program is a proprietary research initiative that solves various communications challenges, builds brands, or creates community consensus through a network of curated modules and group collaboration.

Under the leadership of Sloss, Sarah Mayer, and Cynthia Closkey, the Pittsburgh, PA, USA headquartered firm is a collaboration agency providing services including marketing, branding, strategy, public relations, crisis communication, social media, fundraising and web solutions to a growing roster of clients across governmental, non-profit, and industry.

Shift Collaborative’s exerciseSHIFT is one product of a portfolio including WordFabric, a software as a service platform that interprets large amounts of text into translatable communications solutions; First Course, an online learning management system to teach business skills for food entrepreneurs in collaboration with New Sun Rising; Socialize Right, a social media training program for students and parents; and UpTo Know Good, the country’s first popup marketing program to support small businesses and local freelancers.

The award-winning agency has collaborated with various clients throughout the country including the National Sleep Foundation, Pennsylvania Certified Organic, Change Agency, East Liberty Development Inc., City of Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Health Department, Point Park University, Butler County Community College, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, G-Tech, Operation Better Block, Grow Pittsburgh, Smallman Galley, 412 Food Rescue, Future POS, LG Realty, Millcraft Investments, the Pittsburgh Foundation, PUMP, the Center for Responsible Shale Development, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Sabika Jewelry, The Ellis School, The Harvey School, Provident Charter School, HEARTH, and Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants.

Contact for more information or questions regarding the YLAI Professional Fellows Program.


Communications Community Market Research News