Equity & Social Justice Advocacy Award

2014 Winner

Richard Elias
Tucson, Arizona

Richard Eli?as, is fifth-generation Tucsonan, with a long career in local government and non- profit development of affordable housing. Richard has served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors since February 2002; and is a vocal advocate for: the Sonoran Desert; affordable housing, eliminating health-care disparities, nurturing the development of our youth, and equity in education. Richard has served on numerous boards: Pima County Board of Health, the Little Chapel of All Nations Board of Directors, the Diabetes Association Board of Directors, the Juvenile Justice Executive Board, UA Healthcare Hospital at Kino Advisory Board, and Tucson Unified School District Mexican-American / Raza Studies Community Advisory Board, he was one it’s founding members.

His numerous awards for his work include: Public Service Award of the University of Arizona Alumni Association, Arizona Minority Bar Association Community Service Award and the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Special Recognition Award. Over the course of the creation, implementation, defense, and reconstruction of the program Richard has demonstrated the fearlessness and political audacity to take the lead regardless of the political fallout it came with. It is through his direct support that MARS was able to create, expand and sustain its incredible successful Social Justice Education Project.

2013 Winner

Robert Moses
The Algebra Project

Bob Moses is an American, educator who was an important part of the civil rights movement. He initiated and organized voter registration drives, sit-ins, and Freedom Schools for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  He studied philosophy Harvard and began teaching at the Horace Mann School Manhattan in 1958. Robert Parris Moses was one of the most influential black leaders of the civil rights struggle, with his vision of grassroots and community-based leadership. In 1982 he received a MacArthur Fellowship, and used the money to create the Algebra Project, a foundation devoted to improving minority education in math. Moses taught math for a time at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, and used the school as a laboratory school for Algebra Project methods.

The Algebra Project works to change common attitudes of our society that routinely promote the exclusion and regression of minorities. The goal of the Algebra Project is to take the students who score the lowest on state math tests and prepare them for college level math by the end of high school. This is done by doubling up on math courses for four years of high school. The main components of the Algebra Project are research and development, school development, and community and site development. The Algebra Project ensures that it is teaching it’s students with the latest research and best practices. In October 2006, the Algebra Project received an award from the National Science Foundation to improve the development of materials for Algebra I. In terms of school development, the Algebra Project strives to provide culturally sensitive, context-based, and site specific professional development opportunities to teachers. It promotes collaboration of teaching methods and knowledge. The Algebra Project also partners with local higher education and research institutions to help teachers develop professionally, train teachers on new materials, and provides them with programs to get certified. The Algebra Project collaborates with the Young People’s Project to help engage students in their learning process. “YPP uses mathematics literacy as a tool to develop young leaders and organizers who radically change the quality of education and quality of life in their communities so that all children have the opportunity to reach their full human potential.” At its peak, the Algebra Project has provided help to roughly 40,000 minority students each year. Contributions include curricula guides for kindergarten through high school, the training of teachers, and peer coaching. All efforts have the common goal of helping students grow and learn. Moses argued that Algebra was a “gatekeeper” subject because it was necessary for middle school students to advance in match, technology, and science. Furthermore, without Algebra, the middle school students would not be able to meet the requirements for college. Fifty-five percent of the students following the Algebra Project’s curriculum passed the state exam on their first attempt, while only forty percent of students accomplished this while following the regular curriculum. Students at junior high school sites who followed the Algebra Project curriculum scored higher on standardized tests and were able to continue on to more advanced math classes than their other schoolmates could. This put them in a better position to meet the requirements of getting accepted into college and become a part of the workforce.


2012 Winner

Linda Shevitz
Maryland State Department of Education

Linda Shevitz has been a committed member of the Maryland Multicultural Coalition Chapter of NAME since its inception, which reflects her long-term commitment to advocating equity and social justice in schools and society.  Her commitment to using her status, skills and expertise to advocate publicly and explicitly to fight for equity and social justice, make her a model of integrity for social justice advocacy.  She has exercised that advocacy as the current Branch Chief of the Maryland State Department of Education Equity Assurance and Compliance Branch and in her twenty plus years of service as its Equity Specialist.

2011 Winner

Omiunota Ukpokodu
University of Missouri–Kansas City

Ms. Ukpokodu, Associate Professor for Curriculum & Instruction,exemplifies scholarly commitment to multicultural ideals. Ms. Ukpokodu’s research interests include transformative pedagogy and learning, quality teacher preparation, teaching for equity, and social justice, urban education and global education.Her career demonstrates multiple facets of diversity and how multicultural practices must blend theory and practice to positively impact social justice in education.

2010 Winner

Mary Hollowell
Clayton State University (GA)

Mary Hollowell has been advocating against the use of school solitary confinements cells since her discovery of this practice in 2004.  Her descriptions of solitary confinement of students with disabilities (often termed “school seclusion”) are included in her award-winning book The Forgotten Room:  Inside a Public Alternative School for AT-Risk Youth. Her book includes documentation in the form of photographs, with a particularly vivid picture of graffiti written in blood.  This evidence, along with media coverage and her oral testimony before the State Advisory Panel for Special Education, has helped sway board members to ban school seclusion in Georgia.  The only book documenting school seclusion in the nation, copies have also been distributed to federal legislators in Washington. Hollowell’s successful advocacy efforts against an egregious human rights violation include blogging against solitary confinement, organizing constituents to lobby legislators to support The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, HR 4247. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate as Senate Bill 2860.  The bill is supported by the special education lobby and may soon be signed into federal law, The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. The website atwww.theforgottenroom.com continues the advocacy efforts against confinement.