Michael Bakal, Co-Founder & Lead Investigator

Since graduating from UC San Diego in 2008, Michael has been passionate about working with young people to help them create social change. As a Junior in college, he participated in a volunteer delegation led by the American Jewish World Service to work with Fundación Nueva Esperanza (FNE) in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. Inspired by FNE’s efforts to promote indigenous education, Michael co-founded Voces y Manos along with partners in both Rabinal and San Diego to support FNE’s work expanding access to culturally sustaining education Mayan youth. 

A credentialed bilingual science teacher, Michael has worked with Macario, Kimberly, and the rest of the Voces y Manos team to develop an innovative youth participatory action-research (YPAR) curriculum. While completing an MPH at UC Berkeley and subsequently as a Fulbright Scholar to Guatemala, Michael began conducting research to better understand the processes and outcomes associated with youth empowerment.  Most recently, Michael worked as a strategic communications specialist with Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG), where he led workshops and developed toolkits to help youth and public health organizations strategically engage the media.  He is currently a PhD Student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education studying sociocultural approach to education and how youth learn through participating in activism.