Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Abraco Campeao


Rio de Janeiro, the state where Abraco Campeao (AC) is located, faces significant challenges. The city is increasingly affected by drug and police violence and has been under military intervention since February 2018. In certain neighborhoods, the murder rate is as high as 140 per 100,000 people. AC runs its programs in Complexo de Alemao, one of the least developed favelas in Rio de Janeiro, where 40% of residents live on less than half of the minimum wage ($130 per month), one in 12 families live in houses with four or more people per bedroom, illiteracy levels are the second highest in the city, and 26% of children are born to teenage mothers. Between February and December 2018, there were at least 238 shootouts in Complexo de Alemao the second highest number in Rio. Within this context, it is much more difficult for young people to reach their potential. This is evidenced in local educational attainment: 14% of local youth failed in primary education exams in 2014, 2% dropped out of school, and 25% repeated at least two years of school. These problems are compounded at the secondary school level: 22% of local young people dropped out of school in 2014, by far the highest figure in the city.


AC’s organizational profile can best be fully described by telling the life story of its founder and Executive Director, Alan Duarte. Aged 30, Duarte was born and raised in Complexo do Alemao. At 17, he developed an interest in boxing and started participating in classes at Luta pela Paz, in the neighboring favela of Mare. At Luta pela Paz, Duarte quickly stood out as a mentor for the project’s younger participants, and soon began teaching boxing classes to children. It was then that he realized that Luta pela Paz’s methodologies could be replicated in his own community. In 2014 he founded AC. The organization runs the following programs:

  1. Boxing Classes: These are the base of AC’s alternative curriculum and are held twice weekly for children and youth between the ages of 7 and 29, separated by age group.
  2. Personal Development Class: These are mandatory for all participants attending boxing classes. AC holds two personal development classes per week, split between adults and adolescents. Classes are led by a registered social worker and conducted in group-discussion format, addressing topics from race and gender equality to political participation.
  3. Academic Support Classes: Available to students between their seventh and ninth year of primary school (12-14). AC holds weekly Math and Portuguese lessons to support struggling students. Taught by educators and social workers, the classes employ a flexible pedagogy to better engage those students who are less responsive to formal education, with particular attention on helping them through the transition between primary and secondary school (when dropout rates are highest). Enrolled students also participate in personal development classes, and are encouraged to participate in boxing classes

Current Grant:

EMpower’s second grant to Abraco Campeao (AC) is helping the organization consolidate and expand its girls-only boxing program in Complexo de Alemao, one of Rio de Janeiro’s least developed favelas. The program, which was launched in 2019 with EMpower’s support, is helping 45 adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 19 improve their self-esteem, leadership capacities, life skills and academic performance. It is fostering a safe and encouraging space, as participants engage in girls-only boxing classes and workshops on gender equity and sexual and reproductive health issues. The program also includes mental health and recreational/social inclusiveness component.

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