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Alumni · Brenda Bouw

Investing in Kids

Mar 14, 2017


Melanie Goldmintz, HBA ’14, and Ben Trefler, HBA ’15, are changing the world for children in South America through their work with the Alma Children’s Education Foundation.

When Melanie Goldmintz and Ben Trefler first met through mutual friends at Ivey in the winter of 2014, little did they know they would wind up working together to help improve education for impoverished children in Latin America.

About a year and a half later, Goldmintz became the Executive Director at the Alma Children’s Education Foundation, a Toronto-based charity that focuses on education in rural Peru and Bolivia. Trefler has since joined Alma as a volunteer, alongside his full-time job as a Management Consultant at KPMG.

Both credit their Ivey education for helping them find and support Alma, and see some key similarities in their education methods. Goldmintz says Alma doesn’t follow traditional teaching methods: “Instead, Alma focuses on critical thinking, not memorization, creativity instead of uniformity, and learning by doing – just like how we learn with case teaching at Ivey,” she says.

Alan Harman, a senior investment executive at Scotia Wealth Management, created Alma in 2010 after a lengthy trip through South America with his family. Its goal is to improve quality of life in the communities over the long term by better educating its youth.

Goldmintz had been a regular volunteer at an orphanage in Peru when she came across the Executive Director job posting at Alma. “It was a real alignment with my values and the idea that, when you invest in kids, you invest in the whole community,” she says.

The management and leadership training she received at Ivey also provided her with the necessary skills to do the job, which includes managing a team of 50 volunteers, as well as balancing financials, communications, data input, and marketing.

Trefler came on board after spending a couple of months volunteering for Alma in the summer of 2015. He was inspired by banking executive Guy Metcalfe, HBA ’90, who was a guest speaker in his Learning from Leaders class at Ivey. Metcalfe said something along the lines of, “There is no straight line towards success. Instead, you have to follow what you’re passionate about and become very absorbed in each and every moment you’re at.”

Goldmintz says Ivey staff and alumni have also offered various types of support for Alma, from resources to mentorship. “One of our greatest lessons from Ivey is that everyone has the potential to create a positive impact and build leaders of tomorrow,” Goldmintz says. “The key is to combine our strong foundation in business with our passion to change the world. Luckily, here at Alma, Ben and I are able to apply this lesson from Ivey to our work with Alma every single day.”

Photo: Nation Wong
Art Direction: Greg Salmela, Aegis