Location: Philadelphia, PA, United States
- Issues Areas:
- Economic Justice
- Education Justice
Campus: Temple University - Philadelphia, PA
Fellowship Class Year: 2011
Combatting issues of inequality and inaccessibility in the realm of educational opportunities, Alex decided to channel his energy via his Blueprint into creating sustainable communities of critical, creative and collaborative thinkers." Alex worked to empower youth in poverty stricken neighborhoods to speak out for social justice and make positive changes in their communities. By investing in the education of students in these neighborhoods, Alex worked to fight the structural issues of racism, classism and economic injustice that he felt existed within the educational system.
Featured Fellow Spotlight
YP4: So Alex McNeil tell us what you stand for.
Alex: I stand for an equitable and adequate education system that equips every member of our society with the tools they need to live with a level of autonomy and freedom; one that treats every individual with dignity and respect and prepares them as citizens of the world to be creative and critical thinkers who are socially, environmentally and economically conscious.
YP4: And how did you get involved with YP4?
Alex: I was nominated by a friend and then contacted by staff members about this amazing opportunity and journey that I am about to embark on! I firmly believe in the necessity of a collective effort to better our society, and the YP4 family is a perfect place to start.
YP4: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Alex: Starting Project E.D.U. at Temple University, which won student organization of the year, in our second year, out of 320 groups on campus. This, however, is only the beginning, and our next goal is to incorporate as a non-profit organization and develop into a large-scale, education services provider.
YP4: What keeps you going, what motivates and inspires you?
Alex: People. I am driven by the understanding that all humans have worth and are to be dignified. I also realize that by investing in the fabric of humanity, that is every individual, our society as a whole will flourish, grow and progress. My mother has instilled in me the aforementioned values as well as a sense of social justice and she inspires me daily with her strength and optimism.
YP4: What is your one main life goal that you want to accomplish? (What is your vision for the world?)
Alex: A complete restructuring, from top to bottom, of the United States’ public education system; one that is, again, equitable and adequate in preparing children to lead the country and world in an inclusive and positive direction.
YP4: Tell me about your work.
Alex: Our organization, Project E.D.U., provides educational services to children and adults in schools and community centers throughout Philadelphia. We focus on critical and creative thinking; collaborative learning; and social, environmental and economic consciousness. Currently, we run eight different programs including, but not limited to, art education, environmental education, literacy development and urban farming.
YP4: What is a struggle that you’ve faced or are facing in your work?
Alex: One of the most consistent obstacles we face is an extremely large, complex, rigid, outdated and ineffective public education system that is designed to focus primarily on instruction and test taking and not problem solving and creative thinking.
YP4: What advice do you have for others dealing with those struggles?
Alex: Continue to advocate for comprehensive education reform and lead by example in any opportunity you may have as an educator or supporter of education.
YP4: How can other fellows get involved or find more information about the work you’re doing?
Alex: For more information specifically about our organization, you can visit www.projectedu.net (work in progress), or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org; there are many organizations that provide educational services all over the country and individual research must be done to find out what work best suits any individual.
YP4: If every time you entered a room your theme song played, what would it be and why?
Alex: Bruce Springsteen: The Ghost of Tom Joad; “Wherever there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air, look for me ma’, I’ll be there.”
YP4: Is there anything else that you want to say?
Alex: I’d love to be original, but there’s not much new under the sun, so I’ll part with a quote: “It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over.” – David Foster Wallace