Why BYU Alum Bruno Barreto cofounded Instituto Joule
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Part of the Solution

A Brazilian alum is passing on the gift of mentorship.

BYU grad Bruno Barreto stands in front of the Google offices in Austin, Texas.
Google Cloud Latin America division director Bruno Barreto has made it his mission to provide mentoring for Brazilian youth. Photo courtesy Bruno Barreto.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes—some in the form of chickens.

Such were the dreams of Marcus, a young man from the countryside of Bahia, Brazil. He wanted to run his own poultry farm but didn’t know how to start or operate a business. With no experience of his own, he turned to Instituto Joule, an online mentoring platform that matches Brazilian youth with professionals willing to lend their expertise.

Marcus connected with a mentor who shared business advice and even taught him how to create a chicken coop out of free recycled materials. “I started in my backyard with four chickens,” Marcus says, and now his start-up farm is beginning to grow.

Instituto Joule was cofounded by BYU alum Bruno R. Barreto (BS ’12)—because of his father. Barreto’s dad, growing up in a poor family with his own father absent, started working at a young age, pushing around fruit-filled carts for vendors. His prospects improved at age 13, when he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His church leaders took an interest in the boy, mentoring and inspiring him to be the first in his family to get a college education. Knowing how much this mentoring blessed the family, Bruno Barreto wanted to give youth the same chance to improve their lives.

Head shot of Bruno Barrereto in white shirt and dark suit
Photo courtesy Bruno Barreto

Originally from São Paulo, Barreto attended LDS Business College and eventually BYU, studying business. Today Barreto directs the Latin America division of Google Cloud in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Joice, and their three children. Barreto believes in becoming “part of the solution” to the problems he encounters every day. “If you start doing something good that helps people, others will follow and you just start seeing the multiplying effects of it,” he explains.

Instituto Joule began 9 years ago, when Barreto and a group of friends discussed the opportunities they’d had because of their own mentors. Wanting to give more Brazilian youth similar opportunities, they came up with a plan for an online mentoring platform. “Part of the mentorship program is helping them decide what they want to do,” says Barreto. “Part of it is helping them get into college. Part of it is helping them put together their first résumé and create a LinkedIn profile—simple things that many people can’t do.”

Instituto Joule launched with just six mentors. But as word of the program spread, it wasn’t just Brazilian youth wanting to get involved. More professionals began reaching out, volunteering to serve as mentors.

Today Instituto Joule has become far larger than the founders had imagined. “We have already mentored over 7,000 people, with an average of 1,400 new mentees per year,” Barreto says. “And there’s a huge network of mentors, over 4,000.” Many companies, such as GE and Dell, support the work of the institute by helping provide mentors. Barreto says this generosity reminds him that the world is full of good people. And it gives him hope for Brazilian youth.

“It doesn’t matter if you are in a less-privileged community or you don’t have the financial structure needed,” he says. “We will help you with the attitude, with the vision, with the knowledge, and then you have many more tools at your disposal to be successful.”

Get Connected: Want to mentor students? Join BYU Connect, the university’s mentoring platform, at alumni.byu.edu/byuconnect.