Bolsas Gulbenkian Mais

A new Gulbenkian Foundation grants program both provides Google developed training and fosters equal opportunities

October 2017 saw the launch of a new grants program – Bolsas Gulbenkian Mais – targeting Portuguese students applying to university for the first time and with average entrance grades of over 18/20. These grants provide support to young students with the best grades and the least financial resources and enabling access to a certified training program in emotional intelligence and leadership developed and tested by Google. More than just a grant, this rather provides an acceleration program that prepares students for successful careers and where they also gain access to mentors and networking sessions with other Gulbenkian grant holders.

“In addition to professional competences, it is today fundamental to have tools for interpersonal relationships, for team working, for change”, highlighted Margarida Abecasis, responsible for Gulbenkian Grants. What now get called soft skills hold great relevance in a world undergoing constant transformation and increasingly competitive. “We know that, half a century ago, a person would be able to remain in the same job right through to the time of retirement. Today, in international terms, the figures already point to ten changes over the course of the working life. There is a great deal of mobility and this is only going to become increasingly common. There are new areas of activity and these need new ways of thinking and of acting, which implies another level of competences.”

 

Search Inside Yourself

The Bolsa Gulbenkian Mais program shall enable the acceleration of the personal and professional development of grant holders through a certified program in emotional intelligence and leadership, designed and tested by Google. It was within the technological giant that the program Search Inside Yourself emerged when, in 2007, one of the company’s engineers and pioneers teamed up with specialists in mindfulness, neurosciences and emotional intelligence in order to design and develop an internal training program. This swiftly became the most popular training course in the company. Within a few years, other companies wished to head down the same path and this led to the founding of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), which today provides certified training programs to organisations (profit and non-profit making) all around the world.

Studies carried out with university students who have taken this training program reveal how, at the end of the program, 89 per cent of respondents managed to reduce stress, 91 per cent were able to boost their “mental clarity”, 79 per cent raised their energy levels, 91 per cent increased their capacity to remain calm when faced by situations of adversity and 85 per cent deepened their capacities to interrelate with other people in the university.

This certified training program, which normally comes with a cost to trainees that can run to hundreds of euros, is provided to grant holders as a complement to their academic education, which shall distinguish them in terms of their CVs. “This may have a short, medium and long term impact. What we are going to endow grant holders with is more competences, preparing them for academic life and for the future challenges of the working world” assured the Gulbenkian Foundation manager.

 

Mentors from the grant holders network

This aims to ensure that, during the grant holding period and throughout their careers, grant recipients build up connections out of mutual aid and a feeling of belonging to a vast network through networking sessions with new and previous Gulbenkian grant holders, who already total around 45,000 ever since the Gulbenkian Foundation began awarding grants to Portuguese students in 1956. Within the scope of this new program, the more experienced grant holders may serve as mentors to their younger peers, building and strengthening values such as comradeship, non-competition, mutual assistance and sharing.