MANILA, PHILIPPINES, November 21, 2009 - Efren Peñaflorida, Jr., founder of the Dynamic Teen Company and a 2009 Asia Society Philippines 21 Fellow, was named CNN Hero of the Year at the third annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on November 21.
Peñaflorida was recognized for his unique concept of a “pushcart classroom,” bringing education to the streets of Cavite City, just an hour south of the Philippine capital of Manila, and providing unschooled, labor-exploited and neglected children with an alternative to gang membership.
In his acceptance speech, the 28-year-old invoked the very principles that have catapulted him to worldwide attention. “Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve,” he said. “I always tell to my co-volunteers ... you are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream, and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be."
Peñaflorida emerged on top after seven weeks of online voting at CNN.com, where more than 2.75 million votes were cast. Aside from the US$25,000 he had already received for being named among the Top 10 CNN Heroes, he will receive another US$100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company.