words, will travel
and empowerment mix in alum's initiative
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.
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.
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."