Nuno Pereira is a first generation Mexican-American, 2016 Fellow, and community activist. As a scholar, he was recognized as a 2015 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar and has researched the impacts of memory on the criminal justice system in John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In the community, Nuno was involved in the organization Make the Road NJ in which he traveled to advocate for immigrant and worker rights throughout the country. Through this service he has given testimony before bodies of elected officials and activists, in locations such as the State House in Trenton NJ and Washington D.C. Nuno also has served as president of Educate the Future, a grassroots movement he founded in the town of Hillside with the mission to close the education gap by providing free tutoring services to all families regardless of their social or economic background. The organization’s, and Nuno’s, ultimate goal is to provide every child with the same opportunity to reach their full potential through a high-quality education. He has further been recognized as a 2016 Vera Fellow and will begin working with a partnering agency with the Vera Institute of Justice this coming fall. As he continues to study Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Nuno aims to shape public policy and legislation through research and reform the criminal justice and education system to best serve the community. His future goals have included continuing his studies in the United Kingdoms, receiving his Ph.D. in Psychology, and running for elected office to inspire change in the community.
- Issues Areas:
- Education Justice
Campus: CUNY: John Jay College of Criminal Justice- New York, NY
Fellowship Class Year: 2016
Blueprint: Educate the Future
Educate the Future is committed to fighting for educational justice by addressing the “school-to-prison pipeline,” a national pattern in which children are funneled into the juvenile and criminal justice systems rather than receiving a holistic education and meaningful life coaching. In order to take action, Educate the Future relies on volunteers from within every community to provide free, high-quality tutoring and men/femtoring to low-income families regardless of social background (e.g. racial, documentation status, etc.). Tutors are recruited anywhere from their last year in high-school (with parental permission) and on, as long as there is a strength in the academic area of the tutor’s choice (e.g. mathematics, history, English, Spanish, etc.), a displayed passion for the future success of children, and ability to pass a background check to ensure the safety of our children. After approval, tutors will be matched locally with a maximum of three (3) children to conduct sessions at a local, public location (e.g. library, community center, etc.). While this direct service is the primary goal of Educate the Future, we also seek to influence policy makers to begin investing in public education rather than in expanding the criminal justice system. To this end, Educate the Future will also aim to collect data, both quantitate and qualitative (e.g. changes in GPA, changes in child’s confidence, etc.), from the results of the tutoring sessions over the course of its operations in order to create detailed reports and studies as an evidential foundation for effective change in policy.
Featured Fellow Spotlight
What experiences/opportunities lead you to apply to the YP4 Fellowship program?
Nuno Pereira: I applied to the YP4 Fellowship program when I heard of the Blueprint project that we could work on. Having been working in advocacy for over a year at that time, and working on my own non-profit pilot initiative, I felt a certain calling to apply and see if I can enhance the scope of impact from my work.
What social justice work are you currently doing in your communities, or on your college campuses?
NP: After several months in the YP4 Fellowship, I continue to work in several social issues: immigration rights, worker rights, access to education, and criminal justice reform. I currently work in the Municipal Building of my hometown, initiating a Municipal ID Program so that all residents will be able to have identification; in the Vera Institute of Justice in their Center on Sentencing and Corrections, working with the College in Prison Project to bring high quality educational instruction back to Pell eligible justice-involved individuals; and in Educate the Future, a non-profit initiative I am re-launching to continue providing low-income families with free tutoring and mentoring.
What are you passionate about/what motivates you to public service?
NP: The work load I take on may seem massive at first but the passion I have for serving the community makes it feel almost like I have not done enough. Growing up in poverty, coupled with life as the child of undocumented parents, shaped my ideals and continues to push me on in a fight for equality and equity in this country for all people.
What is the main goal you want to accomplish in your social justice work?
NP: My main goal is to create a country, and eventually a world, where every child has an opportunity to pursue their dreams and achieve their fullest potential, regardless of their social, geographic, or economic background.
Can you give an example of how your YP4 Fellowship helped you accomplish something meaningful for your community?
NP: I owe YP4 a debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to a greater range of social issues that I will begin to fight for down the road: LGBTQ rights and voter rights. During my first exposure at the YP4 Votes Summit, I learned firsthand about the importance of genders and the basic respect that can be shown by sharing space. I lived my very early life in New York and the rest of my life in New Jersey, and until that first day I had never been told about this very important show of respect and dignity. It really opened my eyes, and I was further woken up when we spoke in depth about the state of voting rights in the United States. I have begun to really see the workings of the intersectionality in the social issues which plague communities of color.
Tell us about a skill you learned through YP4 that you evoked when you were faced with a challenging situation.
NP: I continue to believe that I learned a greater deal of empathy and critical thinking from the YP4 Fellowship which I now incorporate and all of my work. It’s of great value to me since I am working to improve an education system which as historically not taken into account the lives and feelings of the children it must service.
What piece of advice would you give to a current YP4 Fellows
NP: My advice to current YP4 Fellows is to really have meaningful conversation with your Fellowship class, because we each have a hidden wealth of knowledge and experience that can open up our eyes to the needs of different unheard communities.
Can you summarize in one sentence the impact YP4 has had in your life?
NP: I would say that YP4 is an experience that will impact and shape the work I will do for decades to come. The people I have met, the ideas we have shared, and the hope I have felt will continue to carry me on through my work.
Where do you think your YP4 training will take you in the future?
NP: I see my time in YP4 taking my own professional development, and my non-profit idea, to new heights. My plan is to continue creating new non-profit ideas in different communities to provide basic services that should be available to all regardless of who they are.
What do you want to be remembered for?
NP: There is not a single thing I hope to be remembered for; instead, I want every community my work reaches to remember to love one another, regardless of their demographic background, and see mutual benefit from the success of all children, not just their own. My last words for my YP4 Fellows and for all advocates out in the good fight, always remember that “demography is not destiny.”