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Gonzalo Pons

Pearson Fellow Alum, MPP '19

As a high school student in Peru, Gonzalo Pons joined a school volunteering program that brought him to isolated Amazon communities. There he met villagers struggling with poverty and access to health and educational services, and began to generate ideas that could make a difference. As an undergraduate studying social psychology at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, he cofounded the nonprofit organization Comunidad de Apoyo a los Pueblos Amazónicos Perú (CAPA Perú). CAPA continues to work in three rural communities located around the Orosa River (Peruvian Amazon rainforest) to promote sustainable development projects and support these communities during floods and other natural emergencies.

In 2013, Pons joined the Peru office of Innovations for Poverty Action. As a research associate, he comanaged the impact evaluation of a program sponsored by the Peruvian Ministry of Education and the World Bank. The project aimed to teach socioemotional skills to at-risk students in Lima while reducing school violence and increasing academic achievement. He also participated in several activities to promote evidence-based policy in the Peruvian government. These included supporting the initial projects of MineduLAB, a unit within the Ministry of Education that develops and evaluates low-cost interventions.

Most recently, Pons worked as a research fellow and data analyst at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Student Social Support R&D Lab. In this position, he managed the data and quantitative analyses of multiple randomized field experiments that apply behavioral science to educational settings.

At The Pearson Institute, Pons is pursuing multiple interests that include international development, data-driven policy, human development policy, and programs targeting vulnerable and at-risk populations. Under the direction of Professor Austin Wright, Pons has contributed to research on corruption and poppy eradication in Afghanistan as well as a consultancy with the World Bank building regional measurements of development and vulnerability in Central Asia. In the summer of 2018, he completed an internship with the University of Chicago–Consortium for School Research as well as an internship in the World Bank's Mind, Behavior and Development Unit in Washington, DC.