|Efren Geronimo Peņaflorida Jr. (born March 5, 1981) is a teacher and social worker in the Philippines. He is the founder and head of the
Dynamic Teen Company, which offers Filipino youth an alternative to street gangs through education, recreating school settings in unconventional locations such as cemeteries and trash dumps.
In March 2009, Peņaflorida was featured as a CNN Hero as part of the news network's program to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to help others. On November 22, 2009, he was named
CNN Hero of the Year for 2009.
Early life and background
was born the middle child of
Sr., a tricycle driver, and Lucila Geronimo, a housewife.
The family eventually started a small noodle business to
make ends meet. Efren grew up in an urban slum near an open
dump site in Cavite City, Cavite, playing amongst garbage
and swimming in polluted waters. He would often fall victim
to neighborhood bullying. Peņaflorida was one of World
Vision's sponsored-children during his early childhood.
completed his elementary and high school education through
the help of scholarships and financial assistance, and
received several class awards and honors. In 2000, he
graduated from San Sebastian CollegeRecoletos de Cavite
with a degree in computer technology, receiving highest
honors. He pursued a second course at Cavite State
University Cavite City campus, graduating cum laude in 2006
with a degree in Secondary Education.
Dynamic Teen Company
In 1997, at 16 years old,
started a youth group in his high school aimed at diverting
students attention away from street gangs, and towards
community activism and personal development. Joined by other
classmates, they named the group "Dynamic
Dynamic Teen Company
started as a friendship club of around 20 members, with an
aim of providing youth awareness projects, talent and
self-development activities, and community services. They
partnered with Club 8586, another community service
organization operating in the area.
They eventually pioneered the idea of the "pushcart
classroom", wherein pushcarts were stocked with school
materials such as books, pens, tables, and chairs, and then
used on Saturdays to recreate school settings in
unconventional locations such as the cemetery or trash dump.
was nominated for CNN Heroes by
Club 8586, the
youth group that financed his elementary and high school
education. After sifting through 9,000 nominees from over
100 countries, CNN's Blue Ribbon Panel selected Peņaflorida
as one of its 28 heroes of 2009. On October 1, Peņaflorida
was named among the ten finalists. On November 22, he was
named CNN Hero of the
Year for 2009. The award includes $100,000 cash to
continue his work with
Dynamic Teen Company.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred on
Peņaflorida the Order of Lakandula in a ceremony at
Malacaņang Palace upon his return to the Philippines.