Jesús Armando Estrada Zubía

Ashoka Fellow
Monterrey, Mexico
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Jesús Armando Estrada Zubía was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Armando has assembled a powerful network of top educators to develop strategies that empower and connect community members in any sector or socioeconomic level to implement solutions that meet community needs. The educators that comprise Via Education hail from universities such as Harvard and MIT, and have an interest in reviving democratic values in Latin America, particularly Mexico. The network conceives and guides implementation of ideas, strategies and teaching methods among its target community members, ensuring that they learn life-long behaviors that support democratic values. More than anything, Via Education’s strategies attempt to create a more democratic, just, and equitable society led by communities themselves.

To build a broad coalition behind their ideas, Via Education commits itself to building relationships with businesses, governments, international organizations, schools, citizen organizations (COs), and communities to distribute and implement their strategies. Via Education has established and focuses on four tactics for success: corporate social responsibility, community participation in public policy, citizen education, and education quality. Each institution or entity takes part in one of these tailor-made action lines to ultimately foster democratic values in Mexico from the ground up.

Via Education addresses corporate social responsibility through community alliances, and internal strategy implementation. Via Education links businesses whose corporate social responsibility commitments align with the needs of communities to ensure high impact community engagement. Armando’s organization also implements engagement strategies within businesses themselves. This initiative offers a win-win because management gains a more cohesive staff capable of working together to solve problems, while society gains new leaders who promote and can implement democratic values.

To combat widespread government corruption Via Education attempts to promote community participation in public policy creation, particularly policies that affect the education of those most excluded from the economic system. The program, for instance, has established a working relationship among the Ministry of Education in the state of Nuevo Leon, Harvard University, and local schools to develop an education program that can be applied in the 100 most challenging schools in the state.

The citizen education action line links all the pieces of society to promote a culture of democratic citizenship. Via Education has built relationships with universities to establish courses that train individuals who are prepared to carry out projects that increase civic participation in a wide-range of communities. Through his citizen education program, Armando has a slew of projects including park restoration, community security programs in some of the most dangerous areas of Northern Mexico, and trainings for local factory workers on personal financial management. In all cases, these activities involve local citizens in order to create a culture of civic engagement.

Finally, Via Education believes that improved education quality at early stages of development can help cure the root cause of a disengaged community. To this end, Armando’s network works with schools to develop strategies that boost student participation and meet the needs of the school. For instance, Via Education worked closely with teachers at an urban school in Nuevo Leon to improve the education offered to a significant portion of their pupils who commute over two hours daily to the institution. The teachers learned the latest pedagogical methods suited to their financial situation and restructured the organization to build a student-driven curriculum.

These four action lines work in concert to achieve Via Education’s objectives. By including all the actors in a system, it has the power to revive failing democracies from the bottom up. Its multilateral approach has enabled Via Education to identify and collaborate with many critical actors in the public and private sectors that not only have influence in Mexican society but have also opened the door for Armando to replicate his success on a national and regional level. Given the versatility of the Via Education model and its powerful mission to address a critical problem in Latin America, Armando is leading an important movement in civic reform.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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