José Luis Nuñez
This profile was prepared when José Luis Nuñez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
José Luis Núñez, often known by the nickname Coco, has developed an alternative educational scheme for the formation of young community leaders. This scheme puts into practice new Bolivian laws that have created important opportunities for the participation of youth in civil society. Together with a team of professionals, all volunteers, he provides activities of leadership training and community organization. Young people develop their own systems for running organizations, define projects that appeal to their peers, organize events and participate in community meetings, and operate their own small businesses to support their ideas. They are creating a different definition of the role of young people in Bolivian society. Though many programs exist to address special needs, such as those related to micro-enterprise projects and street children, José Luis's work is unique. He strive to fill a void for the majority of ordinary young people, mostly poor and living in urban neighborhoods, who do not know their legal rights and have not had the opportunities or the resources to think in positive, productive ways about solutions to their problems.