Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education Announces 2021 Winners

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Doug Fuchs, Lynn Fuchs, Richard Baraniuk, and Carol D. Lee.

One of the most prestigious prizes in education recognizes outstanding achievement in higher education, preK-12 education, and learning science research

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In the photo above, winners of the 2021 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, from left,  Doug Fuchs, Lynn Fuchs, Richard Baraniuk, and Carol D. Lee.

September 29, 2021, PHILADELPHIA — The prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education continues to shine a light on people who have had an extraordinary impact on the field. This year’s winners, announced today by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, are Richard Baraniuk, Doug and Lynn Fuchs, and Carol D. Lee. Each is recognized for their achievements in higher education, preK-12 education, and learning science research respectively and will be honored Wednesday, November 10 in a streaming ceremony at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT. Each winner will also receive an award of $50,000 and a Prize sculpture.

Since 1988, the McGraw Prize has celebrated innovation in education by recognizing outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education and whose accomplishments are making a huge impact. The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) became the new home for the Prize in 2020. As part of the partnership with the McGraw Family Foundation, Catalyst @ Penn GSE has created an array of programs to share ideas, insights, and best practices from the community of nearly 100 former McGraw Prize winners.

The McGraw Prize was established by my father to shine a spotlight on educators and to celebrate their remarkable dedication and impact on our students and our society,” said Harold McGraw III, former Chairman, CEO and President of The McGraw-Hill Companies. “This year’s winners meet the highest standards of excellence, and their contributions highlight the importance of access, fairness and impact in education – essential attributes in the wake of the COVID crisis. We salute these outstanding individuals and educators everywhere.”

“We are so proud to be able to partner with the McGraw family for these awards. It gives me great pleasure to celebrate the work of these remarkable educators,” said Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman. “Their body of work embodies a tremendous mix of innovation and inspiration aimed at making substantive changes in how we teach and learn.”

Engineer, education entrepreneur, and researcher Dr. Richard Baraniuk, the 2021 McGraw Prize winner in Higher Education, has revolutionized college publishing by putting free and open-source books in the hands of tens of millions of students and faculty worldwide. As founder and director of OpenStax, the nonprofit educational and scholarly publishing project he founded in 1999, Baraniuk and his team address a major but often hidden barrier to college affordability: the cost of textbooks and related educational materials. OpenStax is grant funded and sustained and scaled by a novel ecosystem of ed-tech companies. Baraniuk has inspired hundreds of education entrepreneurs, who link to his work and create additional innovative tools. Baraniuk is the C. Sidney Burrus Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University.

Trailblazers in the field of special education, Lynn Fuchs and Doug Fuchs are the 2021 McGraw Prize winners in the PreK-12 Education category. Across four decades of methodologically rigorous and innovative research and development, Lynn and Doug helped establish Data-Based Individualization as the most respected approach to instructing students with serious learning disabilities and as the sine qua non of special education intervention. In addition, Doug and Lynn have produced many scientifically-validated programs in literacy and mathematics for children and youth ranging from academically talented to academically at risk. Doug and Lynn and their former doctoral students have worked with thousands of educators across the U.S., encouraging them to conduct these programs in a multi-tiered (RTI/MTSS) framework to provide instruction of appropriate intensity to students with varying degrees of need. In their current research, they explore children’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and how instructional programs can most effectively respond. Lynn and Doug are Institute Fellows at the American Institutes for Research and Research Professors in the Departments of Special Education and Psychology and Human Development at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

 Carol D. Lee, the 2021 McGraw Prize winner in Learning Science Research, has had a profound and lasting impact on the learning sciences by introducing transformative perspectives to the field. In her five-decade career, she adopted a broad ecological focus, closely attending to the role that people’s participation in cultural practices contribute to robust learning, with a special focus on literacy.  She addresses how the organization of learning environments contribute to wholistic development of youth.  Her work has led to significant theoretical and practical implications for how educators can support learning using an intersectional lens, particularly for African American youth. Lee has been recognized both for her research and her leadership in cultivating new voices from diverse and marginalized communities. Lee is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor Emerita in the School of Education and Social Policy and in Learning Sciences and African-American Studies at Northwestern University.

For more information or to register for the ceremony, please go to https://mcgraw-prize-celebration-2021.eventbrite.com. You may also follow @PennGSE and #McGraw Prize on social media.

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education nominees are nominated through a public nomination process, with winners chosen over three rounds of judging, including the final round by an independent panel of esteemed judges who are leaders in the field. Recent winners include Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code; Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools; and Sal Kahn, the founder of Khan Academy.


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. Harold W. McGraw, Jr. was the former Chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill and dedicated his life to education and literacy. 

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools and is currently ranked #1 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. Catalyst @ Penn GSE is a center for global education innovation that connects people and ideas to develop new ways to advance education in novel and meaningful directions.

The University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1740, is an Ivy League institution with a distinctive past. Its twelve undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools are located in Philadelphia on an attractive urban campus that serves a diverse community of more than 20,000 students from throughout the nation and around the world. Ranked consistently among the top universities in the nation, Penn has a longstanding reputation for excellence in graduate and professional education.

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