Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Abraco Campeao


Abraço Campeão (AC) runs its programmes in Complexo do Alemão, one of the least developed favelas in Rio de Janeiro, where 40 percent of residents1 live on less than half the minimum wage and 26 percent of children are born to teenage mothers. Within this context, young people find it extremely difficult to reach their full potential. This is evidenced in low levels of local educational attainment and high rates of youth unemployment. In addition, youth in Complexo do Alemão face numerous health challenges, including drug-related violence, sexually transmitted infections, and mental health issues, with depression and anxiety being the most common.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated all these problems. Youth unemployment has risen from 20% to 30% nationwide during the second half of 2020. While local level data is more difficult to come by, there is widespread agreement that brunt of youth unemployment falls on low-income communities like Complexo do Alemão. Young women are particularly affected by this reality: in addition to maneuvering around the complications of COVID-19, they must confront inequitable gender perceptions and social norms while struggling to gain decent employment in a labour market that has been further weakened by the pandemic. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has set back the progress made by Latin American women in terms of labour market participation by more than a decade.


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 third grant to Abraço Campeão is supporting the organisation to evolve and strengthen its programme for young women- which was launched in 2019 with EMpower' support- by adding a life skills and employability component. The programme will help 60 young women between the ages of 15 and 24 improve their academic performance, self-esteem, life skills, employability skills, and awareness and capacity regarding gender equity and sexual and reproductive health and rights. In addition, the grant will help Abraço Campeão relocate its headquarters to a new space to better and more safely accommodate increased demand for its programme.   

You can support our work with Abraco Campeao and our other grantee partners.

Connect with EMpower

Stay up-to-date on the latest EMpower news, highlights from our grantee partners, upcoming events, and more.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Make a Difference with EMpower

Our Board Directors and the Leadership Council underwrite all of our Management, General and Fundraising expenses, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering marginalised young people.

Make a Donation

See more ways to make a difference