» Paulo Freire Democratic Project Awards

Dr. Donado Marcedo receiving the 2014 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award for Social JusticeThe Paulo Freire Democratic Project awards are given to individuals and organizations that embody the life and legacy of Paulo Freire, to those who, in his eyes, "dare to teach." They honor both individuals and organizations characterized by intellectual excellence, ethical concern, and deep commitment to the creation, nurturing, and sustainability of fair and just communities regardless of location. "Teachers" herein is not restricted to those associated with formal educational institutions but rather refers to individuals described by Freire as "cultural workers," as "those who dare to teach" in whatever context they find themselves.

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2019 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Recipients

Individual: Dr. George Sefa Dei

George Sefa Dei is Professor of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies (OISE) in Education of the University of Toronto and a co-chair of  the African Community Networking Committee,  an organization dedicated to the economic and social enhancement of African peoples in Canada. He served as the director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at OISE. He is known for his antiracist research, particularly on antiracist approaches to education, and for his advocacy for African-focused schools in Canada. 

Institution: Black Lives Matter, Toronto Chapter

The vision of BLM Toronto is "to be a platform upon which black communities across Toronto can actively dismantle all forms of anti-black racism, liberate blackness, support black healing, affirm black existence, and create freedom to love and self- determine." Their mission is to "forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto."

2018 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Recipients

Individual: Dr. Pedro Pedraza

Pedro Pedraza has been an ardent advocate for social justice and a die-hard Freirian for more than 40 years. He was instrumental in the early years of the ethnic studies movement and is a founding member of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños in Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), working as a research director in language policy and then education studies for the Puerto Rican and Latino communities of New York City.

Now retired from CUNY, he continues to be a masterful force in the community for activism and the promotion of people's self-determination through education and the arts, as a form of a community's expression. He is as active today as he was in the 1960s through 1980s, when the Latino community in New York was having a renaissance and political awakening.

Institution: El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice 

The mission of the El Puente Academy is to inspire and nurture leadership for peace and justice. It strives in all activities to create community, develop love and caring, achieve mastery, and promote peace and justice. These goals are based on a view of human beings as holistic, thriving in collective self-help, seeking safety, and requiring respect. In reaching for its major goals, El Puente depends on a belief that individuals grow and move forward when they are focused on development, are mentored, are allowed to be creative, and understand the importance of unity through diversity.

2017 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Recipient

Individual: Dr. Sandy Grande

Sandy Grande is a Professor of Education and the director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Connecticut College. Among her many honors and awards, she was named as a founding scholar to the Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy at McGill University.

As a teacher and scholar, Sandy Grande centers her work in the belief that education is the heart of a critical democracy. She asserts that questions about education cannot be reduced to disciplinary parameters, but must include issues of power, history, self-identity and the possibility of collective agency and revolutionary struggle. Thus, rather than reject the language of politics, Professor Grande constructs teaching as the link between public education and the imperatives of democracy.

2016 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Recipients

Individual: Dr. Antonia Darder

Antonia Darder is an internationally recognized Freirian scholar from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, where she holds the Leavey Presidential Chair of Ethics and Moral Leadership. She is also Professor Emerita of Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has worked to articulate a critical theory of leadership for social justice and community engagement, while her many years of scholarship have focused on racism, political economy, education, social justice, and society.

Dr. Darder also has been an activist and visual artist, participating in a variety of grassroots efforts tied to educational rights, worker's rights, bilingual education, women's issues, environmental justice, and immigrant rights. A noted poet, Darder began writing and reciting her poetry in the community, as a result of her participation in the L.A. Barrio Writer's Workshop with her first publications occurring in 1983. 

Institution: Xinaxcalmecac Academia Semillas del Pueblo

Xinaxcalmecac Academia Semillas del Pueblo represents a community-based charter school continuum in East Los Angeles, Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory High School of North America for grades kinder through 12th. At Anahuacalmecac, students strive to become internationally minded, culturally wise community members. Beyond public schools, Anahuacalmecac advocates for the internationally recognized rights of children and Indigenous Peoples, as proclaimed by the United Nations through cultural relevance and community empowerment across the continent. 

2015 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Recipients

Individual: Dr. Henry Giroux

Picture of Dr. Henry GirouxDr. Henry Giroux is an American and Canadian scholar and cultural critic. One of the founding theorists of critical pedagogy in the United States, he is best known for his pioneering work in public pedagogy, cultural studies, youth studies, higher education, media studies, and critical theory. In 2002, Routledge named Giroux as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period.

A high-school social studies teacher in Barrington, Rhode Island, for six years, Giroux has held positions at Boston University, Miami University, and Penn State University. In 2005, Giroux began serving as the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has published more than 50 books and 300+ academic articles throughout education and cultural studies literature.

Institution: Dr. Pedro Albizu, Campos High School

Dr. Pedro Albizu CamposDr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, Chicago, IL

"An excellent example of liberating education can be seen in the efforts of students and teachers at Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School in West Town, Chicago. Here, the staff use critical pedagogy in their collective work with the Puerto Rican community. They try to help students acquire a sense of humanity and purpose in their lives after an often brutal and dehumanizing colonization within the United States, where the material conditions for their labor are controlled and their dreams, desires, hopes and visions are often ideologically subjugated. Teachers at Pedro Albizu Campos are committed to equality and social justice and demonstrate an unyielding dedication to the empowerment of the Puerto Rican people."
(Excerpt from Life in Schools, by Peter McLaren)

2014 Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Recipients

The 2014 recipients of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice are Donaldo Macedo and the Paulo Freire Charter School (Newark NJ). Without question, the selections were based on each having met the following fundamental beliefs criteria:

  • All educational processes should be directed toward optimal human development.
  • Through literacy, in its broadest sense of reading the word to read the world, human agents come to know and act upon the world.
  • Education is a political endeavor thus cannot be neutral.
  • The aesthetic is critical for it allows us to see things new, to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.
  • It is absolutely necessary to reach out for pedagogical engagement with other democratic and justice oriented communities.
  • Participatory action research is essential for educational transformation.
  • Reflection without action is verbalism, alienating “blah” while action without reflection is action for actions sake, thus activism.
  • All individuals are capable of deep intellectual and moral thought regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, cultural, and class backgrounds.
  • There is hope, always hope buttressed by tenacity, love, and attention to the long haul. 

Learn more about the Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice selection criteria.

Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Individual Recipients, 2002–2019

2019 Dr. George Sefa Dei
2018 Dr. Pedro Pedraza
2017 Dr. Sandy Grande
2016 Antonia Darder
2015 Dr. Henry Giroux
2014 Donaldo Macedo
2013 Jeff Duncan-Andrade
2012 Dr. Christine Sleeter
2011 Shirley Steinberg
2010 Russell Bishop 
2009 Sonia Neito
2007 George Wood
2004 Ruebén Martinez
2002 Dr. Peter McLaren

Dr. Christine Sleeter posing at the Paulo Freire Bust at Chapman University

Paulo Freire Democratic Project Award of Social Justice Institution Recipients, 2003–2019

2019 Black Lives Matter, Toronto Chapter
2018 El Puente Academy for Peace & Justice, New York, NY
2016 Xinaxcalmecac Academia Semillas del Pueblo, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, Chicago, IL
2014 The Newark Paulo Freire Charter School, Newark, NJ
2013 1. The Right to Know Initiative
2. Klamath River Early College Redwoods Charter School, Crescent City, CA
2012 Little Sister's Book Store, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2011 Padres Unidos, Santa Ana, CA
2010 The Wooden Floor, Santa Ana, CA
2009 Rethinking Schools, Milwaukee, WI
2004 Pio Pico Elementary School, Santa Ana, CA
2003 Los Amigos of Anaheim, Orange County, CA

Those Who Dare To Teach 2014 Award Recipients

The Paulo Freire Democratic Project Those Who Dare To Teach award honors a teacher or teachers who exemplify this ethos through wisdom, practice, compassion, and deep commitment to the creation, nurture, and sustainability of fair and just communities regardless of location. Teachers herein is not restricted to those associated with formal educational institutions but rather refers to individuals described by Paulo Freire as “cultural workers”, as “those who dare to teach” in whatever context they find themselves. 

Patricia HuertaPatricia Huerta is the Founder and Executive Director of Padres Unidos, a collaborative organization that believes successful families breed successful communities. For the past 20 years, Patricia has daringly, if not tenaciously, worked with countless parents and their children in Orange County. Currently, more than 2,000 children and parents in Orange County are served lovingly through Padres Unidos’ parent training and kindergarten readiness programs.

Norma Valenzuela, Ph.D. in Education Student - College of Educational StudiesNorma Valenzuela teaches at Martin Luther King School (MLK), SAUSD and studies in Chapman’s College of Educational Studies Ph.D program. In both roles, as a reflective and culturally responsive scholar activist, she daringly pursues academic justice for disenfranchised English learners. To illustrate, MLK faculty and parents have resisted the negative consequences of English only policies. The result has been a safe haven characterized by proficient bilingualism, high academic achievement and love.

Outstanding Graduate Student Award Recipients, 1997–2018

Each year the Attallah College of Educational Studies and the Paulo Freire Democratic Project give the Paulo Freire Outstanding Graduate Student Award for both current and future contributions to the field of education.

Drawing of Paulo Freire

Year Recipient
2018 Jose Paolo Magcalas
2017 Timothy D. Bolin
2016 Anat Herzog
2015 Ahmed Younis
2014 Norma Valenzuela
2012 Elizabeth M. Zarkos
2011 Marisol Rexach
2010 Erin M. Rivero
2009 Cathleen L. Sanchez
2008 Nicole M. DiRanna
2007 Renzzo F. Reyes
2006 Chris Strople
2005 Dan Kelly
2004 Elyse Froehlich
2003 Susie Weston
2002 Cheryl Lee King
2001 Judy Burgess
1999 John Gunderson
1998 Christine Montemer
1997 Emily Wolk