Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Winter 2005Kellogg School of Management
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  Daniel José Custódio
  Daniel José Custódio
Alumni Newsmakers
  James Pitts '95 and William Lampley '94
  Daniel José Custódio '05
  Dorothy Pitner Healy '86 and Mary Sheehan '01
  David Darragh '93

Have words, will travel
Poetry and empowerment mix in alum's initiative

by Carl Vogel

After graduating from Hamilton College in upstate New York, Daniel José Custódio '05 landed a good job in operations at General Electric. But he wasn't happy. So he turned to the Kellogg School as a springboard to a better career with leadership potential. "I felt ... that with the right business skills I could do something I really loved," he recalls.

At Kellogg, Custódio found his passion: helping urban students express themselves through poetry. Encouraged by faculty and classmates, Custódio discovered Aspira, a charter school dedicated to teaching Chicago's low-income Puerto Rican children. Soon he was scheduling his MBA classes in the mornings so that he could teach afternoons at Aspira. In 2004, he launched Traveling Poet, a publishing company that teaches kids the fundamentals of poetry and helps them articulate their experiences.

Before Custódio graduated from Kellogg in June, Traveling Poet published a book of the poetry from Custódio's class at Aspira, and recently published another text, Suicide of Silence. "What's going on in the inner cities today, people aren't talking about it. This book is about creating a crack in that wall of silence," he says.

Today, Traveling Poet is on hiatus, as Custódio works as a program director for Platform Learning in New York, a company that tutors 28,000 kids, supported with federal No Child Left Behind funds. Custódio has not closed Traveling Poet, however. "Schools love it, but they have no money to fund it," he says. "I'm looking into options - capital to run the program, obtaining nonprofit status. This firm is in the private sector and it's filled with people who know how to get their hands on capital, how to make a company like this work."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University