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Since its creation, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education has recognized and celebrated more than 100 remarkable leaders in all areas of education who have had a profound and lasting impact on our world. In 2020, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation selected the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education as the new home for the Prize.

“It’s very admirable that this Prize has been established because it’s one of the very few that reward educators in such a dignified and respectful way that reinforces our work.”

—Estela Bensimon, 2020 McGraw Prize Winner

A Who’s Who of Educational Leadership

The McGraw Prize was established in 1988 by the Board of Directors of McGraw-Hill to honor Harold W. McGraw, Jr., the Chair and CEO. Throughout his life and building on his grandfather’s legacy as a teacher, Mr. McGraw was a vocal and vigorous advocate for education. He believed that society needed to celebrate the role of educators.

After three decades, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education continues to shine a spotlight on innovators who are making lasting advancements for students across our nation and around the world. Prize winners include governors and legislators, superintendents and CEOs, university presidents and professors—even a First Lady of the United States—all dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education.


“I’m excited about what this partnership is going to mean in the lives of all the young people who will benefit.”

—Harold McGraw III


(Left to right) Catalyst @ Penn GSE Executive Director Michael Golden, Harold McGraw III, and Suzanne McGraw sitting in an audience watching a speaker off camera.

In 2020, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation announced the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) as the new home for the Prize. Through this collaboration, the Prize is creating a yearlong programming series to share ideas and insights from McGraw Prize winners with educators around the globe, led by Penn GSE’s center for global education innovation, Catalyst @ Penn GSE.

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, established by Harold W. McGraw, Jr., is a not-for-profit private foundation whose primary mission is focused on education, youth services, community health, and medical research.

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools and is consistently ranked among the top graduate schools of education in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs.


The Mcgraw prize sculpture

The Prize

The McGraw Prize recognizes individuals and their efforts to elevate human potential in education in three categories: Pre-K–12 Education, Higher Education, and Lifelong Learning. Winners are chosen by a distinguished panel of judges made up of thoughtful and influential members in the international educational community.

In addition to an award of $50,000, each McGraw Prize winner receives a Prize sculpture, designed and created by Miami-based sculptor Gary Traczyk.


Inspiration Spiraling Outward

Artist Gary Traczyk in his studio.

Gary Traczyk, whose stainless steel sculptures have been exhibited at Art Miami, SCOPE Miami, Art Basel Miami Arts Week, Art Palm Beach, Art Hamptons, and SOFA Chicago among other prominent shows, was selected in 2020 after a nationwide search because of his striking work and unique ability to craft moving or kinetic art.

“We were drawn to Gary’s extraordinary work, which combines timeless–and kinetic­–visual elements,” said Michael Golden, Executive Director of Catalyst @ Penn GSE. “His artistry evokes inspiration spiraling outward to transform the world of many, reflecting the shared mission of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and the McGraw Family Foundation.”

“To me, education opens doors to freedom. It’s everything,” Traczyk said. “When they reached out to me, I was overwhelmed with happiness. It’s a total honor to be involved.”