Third-grade Teacher Shows Dallas The True Meaning of "Si Se Puede"

November 8, 2018

DALLAS (November 8, 2018) – Adan Gonzalez was named the 2018 winner of the Good Works Under 40 Award. In partnership with The Dallas Morning News, Good Works Under 40 honors up-and-coming leaders who are improving the future of Dallas and inspiring their peers to make a difference.

Gonzalez was honored during an award ceremony hosted by The Dallas Foundation at The Joule on November 7. As part of the recognition, he received a $10,000 donation to the Puede Network, the nonprofit organization he founded and continues to champion. 

Puede Network is a youth education and leadership development program that provides comprehensive college access services, volunteer opportunities and mentorship to underprivileged students in inner city public schools. Gonzalez’s dedication to empowering students is inspired by his own system of mentors and supporters who helped him break the cycle of poverty. 

“This is what Puede Network is about: believing in each other, believing in community and believing in our future,” said Gonzalez. 
His parents immigrated from León in Guanajuato, Mexico, and put down roots in south Oak Cliff. He was the first in his family to go to college, and when he arrived at Georgetown University in 2011, he’d moved across the country with his belongings in garbage bags. While a student at Georgetown, Gonzalez began an annual luggage collection drive so future college-bound students from his hometown wouldn’t have to do the same. 

Gonzalez graduated from Georgetown with a degree in government and with a minor in education, inquiry and justice while working for the U.S Department of Education and the White House. He then went on to receive his M.Ed. in education policy and management from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2017 before moving back to Dallas to make an impact in the community that raised him. Now he’s a third-grade teacher in the same classroom where he once sat. 

“I’m walking in the same streets that I grew up in and the same halls where I went to school,” said Gonzalez, whose lessons encourage his students to be bold, confident and disruptive in envisioning what’s possible for their future success.

He also manages a parent-, teacher- and student-led forum to encourage conversations about difficult topics such as race, immigration, cultural sensitivity, community engagement, poverty, dignity and respect. Through his position at Dallas ISD and his volunteer work with Puede Network, his efforts have touched more than 200,000 students and parents around the world.

In addition to Gonzalez’s honor, the four other Good Works Under 40 finalists received grant checks from The Dallas Foundation for their nonprofit agencies: Laura Day, co-founder and board member at United to Learn; Adam Kraus, founder of the Dallas Autumn Ball; Joseph Nguyen, supporter and camp counselor for Muscular Dystrophy Association; and Josh Terry, who serves on the board of governors for Uplift Education. Day was also named the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award. 

“It’s truly energizing to see the impact of these men and women in our community,” said Matthew Randazzo, president and CEO of The Dallas Foundation. “While young in age, they’re wise in their investments of time, energy and creativity. The difference they are making in the lives of North Texans is inspiring.”

About The Dallas Foundation
The Dallas Foundation, established as a community foundation in 1929, serves as a leader, catalyst and resource for philanthropy by providing donors with flexible means of making gifts and bequests, the income from which primarily supports charitable causes in the city and county of Dallas.