What is the Moleskine Foundation?

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that believes that Quality Education is key to producing positive change in society and driving our collective future.

Our mission is to provide youth with unconventional educational tools and experiences that help foster critical thinking, creativity and life-long learning, with the focus on communities affected by cultural and social deprivation.

Who founded the Moleskine Foundation?

The Moleskine Foundation was originally founded as lettera27 by Maria Sebregondi, Roberto Di Puma, Tania Gianesin and Marco Belpoliti among others. Fabio Rosciglione, Adama Sanneh and Elena Korzhenevich joined the original group as co-founders of Moleskine Foundation. Maria was also a co-founder of Moleskine S.r.l and Roberto was previously Director of Product Design and Publishing at Moleskine S.r.l. Tania is a planning and organisational consultant for the cultural sphere. Marco Belpoliti is a well-known writer, journalist, university teacher. Fabio Rosciglione was previously Marketing and Sales Director at Moleskine S.r.l.. Adama Sanneh was the Director of Programs and Elena Korzhenevich was the Director of Communication, both of lettera27. All founders are completely external to Moleskine S.r.l. and have chosen to dedicate their knowledge to bring success to the Moleskine Foundation.

Who are the key players now?

The founders together with the original team of lettera27. Moleskine Foundation will now benefit from a collaborative teaming with Moleskine S.r.l., which will put its network, its people and its infrastructure at the disposal of the foundation.

What is the relationship between the Moleskine Company and the Moleskine Foundation?

The Moleskine Foundation operates in total independence of Moleskine S.r.l. The funding provided by Moleskine S.r.l. will be utilised for structural sustainability, whereas all fundraising efforts will go towards projects. While the original lettera27 team remains the same core team as the Moleskine Foundation, Moleskine S.r.l. will provide resources and expertise that can help elevate the Foundation to a global level. The Foundation’s policies, operations and program decisions are determined solely by its Executive Board and its President and CEO.

What are the Moleskine Foundation's aims?

The Moleskine Foundation’s aim is to produce positive change in society by contributing to the IVth SDG goal of the UN to ensure inclusive and equitable Quality Education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. We believe this will be achieved through providing unconventional educational tools, content and experiences that help foster critical thinking, creative doing and life-long learning.

What does the Moleskine Foundation do?

It is committed to promote inclusive quality education for all and particularly encourages young people to think critically and creatively in order to question the world they live in and to learn to bring about change.

It believes art and culture are key in order to garner knowledge and are powerful motors for critical thinking. By embracing the role of art and culture in transforming society, the Foundation is certain that the young people of today will be better equipped to produce positive social change.

 It is committed to engaging and stimulating the international debate on quality education and art and culture as vehicles for social transformation and cross-cultural interaction. The Foundation challenges the status quo and encourages the reversal of the imbalance between the knowledge paradigms of North and South, with the goal of opening new geographical, cultural and sociological perspectives.

To achieve this we work at the intersection of three focus areas: innovative education, art and culture for social transformation, advocacy and cross-cultural sensitization.

With a special focus on Africa, the Foundation works closely with local organizations to fund, support and co-create a wide range of distinctive initiatives.

Specifically the foundation will operate in three different ways:

Projects and formats
We identify, develop and implement initiatives, and we are open to partnerships with third-party organizations.

Grant and co-funding
We identify and support cultural organization and projects that share the foundation’s values and which are in line with its objectives.

Content hub
The foundation gathers and curates a wide variety of content. This might be informative, educational, and cultural. We take part in research, documentation and communication activities –both independently and in partnership with other organizations.

Can you tell us about the collection? What are the key authors’ names? Is it going to go on-sale one day?

Today the collection has more than 1000 notebooks. It has been catalogued, estimated, digitalized and is now in custody in a place dedicated to the conservation of the works of art in Milan. There are numerous famous authors: from the graphic designer Paula Scher to the architect Kengo Kuma, from the designer Ron Arad to the influencer Ou Ning, from the writer Javier Marías to the director Spike Jonze, the musicians Sigur Rós and Giovanni Sollima, the illustrator Maira Kalman and the artists Joana Vasconcelos, Pascale-Marthine Tayou. And also: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Odile Decq, Massimiliano Fuksas, the Campana Brothers… It’s partially printed in the Detour Book, published by Moleskine. The new phase that is opening today offers new opportunities for the collection. It’s our intention to give it a greater visibility, online e offline: a creative relay that travels the world at the festivals, museums, art fairs, workshops and cultural events, inspiring young talents and enriching itself with new contributions at each step. At the moment, therefore, we are not planning to put it on sale.

Why is lettera27 being renamed?

The change from lettera27 to Moleskine Foundation is more than just renaming. It’s a symbol of a long relationship and process that lasted more than 10 years. Since lettera27 was created, Moleskine has supported the organisation through funding and mutual projects, which has meant that a deep intrinsically interconnected partnership was formed. These 10 years of shared value and expertise allow us to develop a new innovative partnership model of social engagement that brings together a non-profit organization and a commercial company to create a bigger social impact on a grander scale. The Moleskine company will collaborate with the Moleskine Foundation putting its network, its people, its infrastructure at the disposal of the Foundation, hence the renaming.

Is the Moleskine Foundation purely supported by Moleskine?

The Moleskine Foundation will not be purely supported by Moleskine – funds are received through memberships, donations and, of course, from Moleskine itself. The Foundation’s aim in ten years is to be half funded by Moleskine and half through public donations and memberships.

What will funds from Moleskine be used for?

Funds received from Moleskine S.r.l will mainly sustain the organisational structure of the organisation, whereas donations and resources which are received through the membership program and partnership will go directly into the projects and help make a social impact.

Is Moleskine S.r.l. benefiting from the Foundation in any way?

The Moleskine Foundation operates in total independence from Moleskine S.r.l. and as such, Moleskine S.r.l. will not be benefitting financially from the Foundation. The benefit for Moleskine is of the immaterial nature: increased coherency with its values and its vocation of a cultural brand, creativity and self-expression enabler; increased satisfaction of its employees and stakeholders who will be involved in the non-profit projects that will make the company a better place to work; further loyalty motivations from Moleskine audiences, sensible to the topics of non-profit and of giving back by the brand that they love.

How can I donate to the Foundation?

You can donate to the Moleskine Foundation on the Foundation’s website with major credit cards, bank transfers or PayPal, all the details can be found at our donate page.

There are lots of ways you can get involved and help support the work of the Moleskine Foundation, for example by sharing our work, volunteering or joining our membership program.

You can also contribute to our mission and our initiatives by donating your expertise, talent and time. Check for openings for specific initiatives in our vacancy section.

What will my donation be used for?

A hundred percent of the money the Moleskine Foundation receives goes directly to finance transformative and unconventional educational initiatives. The specific programs we will implement during the first year are AtWork and WikiAfrica Schools. Full information on our upcoming programmes can be found on our website [insert link]. The organizational model of the Foundation is quite distinctive. The Moleskine company gives a contribution that sustains the structural costs of the Foundation and allows it to be sustainable and with a long-term vision. All the resources that come from the membership program can go directly to create social impact.

What is the focus target for the Foundation?

The Moleskine Foundation specifically focuses on youth (14-25 y.o). This is with the belief that if people are empowered with critical and creative thinking skills from a young age they can find solutions to our most complex problems and drive our collective future. This is our focus, but it’s not our limit, some of our initiatives can also be open to other targets and age groups, in line with our life-long learning credo.

How do you ensure the independence of the Foundation’s governance from the Moleskine company?

As clearly stated in the Statute (link), the components of the decision-making organs of the Moleskine Foundation are completely external to the Moleskine Company. The Executive Board has only one Moleskine representative in the role of a Participant.

Why is Africa the focus of the Foundation? Will you only operate in Africa?

While the Foundation’s focus is on Africa, our projects and partnerships are global. Africa is the strategic focus where we concentrate our limited resources, it’s our geographic priority. With lettera27 we have developed a strong expertise and a network of cultural partners, influencers and advisors on the continent. And most importantly, we believe that Africa is a metaphor for the world. All that is happening there is happening everywhere else. To quote our advisor Simon Njami, “Africa is young: which means that it represents a marvellous laboratory not only to reflect on the past, but to think another future and another way to relate to each other. Like a “tool that must be useful to all”, Africa must function and set new standards.”

Our operations will be not however be limited to Africa only, we also aim to operate globally. We already have an international network of partners and we aim to spread and disseminate our educational formats globally. As a content hub we also operate a lot on internet, which of course sees almost no geographical boundaries.

Why focus on Quality Education?

Education transforms the lives of individuals, communities and societies.
A good quality education is one that provides all learners with critical thinking capability, creative doing and a life-long learning approach. These skills are key to socially conscious citizens developing sustainable livelihoods, contributing to peaceful and democratic societies and enhancing individual well-being. Quality education provides the foundation for equity in society.

“Education is the great equalizer of our time. It gives hope to the hopeless and creates chances for those without…” Kofi Annan

Why is there a need to create the Moleskine Foundation today?

As a Foundation, after more than 10 years of activities, lettera27 has felt the need and the desire to renew itself and to make a big quality step in its capacity to produce social impact and in the visibility of its distinctive projects. At the same time Moleskine has felt the need and the desire to enhance its CSR in line with the company’s development and the envisioned future growth. It was hence a natural and exciting mutual agreement.

How do you measure your impact and success?

Every initiative has its impact measurement framework, where we measure the quantitative and qualitative indicators. But we are also aware that impact measurement connected to soft skills such as critical thinking, creative doing and lifelong-learning approach, is a complex science and is a potential area of improvement for most of the players in this field. These intangible parameters still lack clear measurement tools, therefore part of our efforts will be aimed at researching them in collaboration with our partners.

Is it going to be a granting organization?

Not in a strict sense. Granting is only one of the ways we will operate, but our main focus is on the co-creation of strong and impactful initiatives with our partners as well as being a content hub that aggregates and disseminates content on advocacy and cross-cultural sensitization.

Can you give us an example of the unconventional educational tool?

AtWork is an itinerant educational format and one of the key tools in support of the commitment of the Moleskine Foundation to Quality Education.
It was conceived by lettera27 and the curator Simon Njami, that uses the creative process to stimulate critical thinking and debate among the participants.

AtWork started its journey in 2012 in Dakar and since then it continued to travel around the African continent and beyond with the vision to inspire a Pan African and global network of creative thinkers. With AtWork we want to facilitate young people to think differently, to get out of their comfort zones, to be free to question the society around them.

The key element of AtWork is a workshop conducted by an artist or a curator on a chosen topic. The topic stimulates collective discussion and personal self-reflection on issues such as identity, diversity, culture, community, etc.

For the final project of the workshop, each student produces a personalized notebook, which expresses the process of self-reflection triggered by the workshop.

The created notebooks are then exhibited in an art show, co-curated by the students themselves. The participants may then choose to donate their works to our collection of ‘artist notebooks’, unique pieces of work created by different artists on Moleskine notebooks.

What do you mean by “advocacy and cross-cultural public sensitization”?

As part of its mission the Moleskine Foundation is committed to inspiring and engaging in critical debate with international cultural protagonists from a vast array of fields.  
We want to contribute to shaping the international debate on quality education, art and culture for social transformation, cross cultural interaction, and other contemporary topics. We also aim to contribute in reversing the dominant North- South knowledge production paradigm, thus opening new geographical, cultural, sociological perspectives. We do this by curating and aggregating content online and through organizing seminars, discussions, panels on relevant topics as well as pursuing innovative research projects that challenge conventional approaches.

How can I partner with your organization?

We are always looking for partners that share our values and mission. If you are a company or an institution that shares our vision and wants to contribute to it, please contact us at info@moleskinefoundation.org.