• Alberto Ibargüen

    “Our Hall of Fame has increasingly begun to recognize those journalists who pioneered and opened the spaces for us but definitely I think the one we have missed... is Félix Varela”

    Author, Columnist New York Daily News
    Guest Speaker at the “Félix Varela Awards”
    Washington DC, September 2010

    Juan González

  • Alberto Ibargüen

    “There comes a moment in every overwhelmingly big story when you know there is no way out except forward. Then, it takes a life of its own... and a reward in itself”

    First Prize Winner 2009
    El Diario La Prensa de Nueva York

    Julie López

  • Alberto Ibargüen

    “With so many important stories that need to be told and so many new ways to tell them, this is a very exciting time to be a journalist”

    First Prize Winner 2009
    New Haven Independent

    Thomas MacMillan

  • Alberto Ibargüen

    “The elements of success in Hispanic media (in the US) will always be giving that voice to the community, giving the opportunity for the community to speak in its own terms”

    President and CEO of the Knight Foundation.
    Guest Speaker at the “Félix Varela Awards”
    Philadelphia, September 2008

    Alberto Ibargüen

  • Alberto Ibargüen

    “Provenimos de tantos países, de tantas formas de ver la vida, que requerimos algo que nos unifique y, el Félix Varela a la Excelencia Periodística, cumple precisamente esta función”.

    First Prize Winner 2008
    La Opinión, Los Angles, CA

    Claudia Nuñez

  • Alberto Ibargüen

    “After witnessing the energy of Al Dia’s newsroom and meeting the organization’s dedicated judges during my visit to Philadelphia last Fall, I left feeling optimistic about the future of the craft”.

    First Prize Winner 2008
    Daily Review, San Franciso, CA

    Matt O’Brien

About the “Felix Varela” Awards

The “Félix Varela” Award for Excellence in American Journalism on Latino issues is the largest cash prize in this category in US Journalism.

The prizes are presented by the AL DÍA Foundation, chaired by Hernán Guaracao, former president of the National Association of Hispanic Publications in the US, and founder, editor and publisher of AL DÍA, a print and web-based news media organization with main offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The award was established to honor the memory of Father Félix Varela y Morales, an American intellectual of Latino origin who founded one of the first Spanish-language newspapers in the United States, in the city of Philadelphia, at the beginning of the 19th Century.

The Varela Awards will be offered in a competition among recent U.S. Journalism School graduates from any J-School located in any of 50 States, who articulate compelling reasons to receive a one-year fellowship for an AL DIA Foundation's "Varela Journalism Master Practicum," which practices the "Hospital Model of Journalism Education" in a truly multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual newsroom.

Who was FÉlix Varela?
  • A Catholic priest born in Cuba in 1788 who lived most of his life in the US. He came to Philadelphia, PA, in 1824.
  • Varela y Morales became that year in this city the founder of “El Habanero”, the first of several newspapers he published in the US.
  • “El Habanero” saw the light in Old City Philadelphia, the cradle of our Democracy and the Free Press.
  • Father Varela was also a prolific writer and the author of multiple essays on cooperation between the English and Spanish-speaking communities.
  • Father Varela translated into Spanish important English-language books, including Thomas Jefferson’s “Manual of Parliamentary Practice.”
  • In 1997 the United States Postal Service honored Varela by issuing a commemorative stamp.
Felix Varela

Félix Varela y Morales became in 1824 in the City of Philadelphia the founder of “El Habanero”, the first of several newspapers he published in the US.

Winners 2008


Imperio Narco

By Julie López from El Diario La Prensa de Nueva York

Claudia NuñezAn exhaustive and compelling investigation that connects the dots to reveal a decades-long drug smuggling operation linking Guatemala and New York, with tendrils reaching to Colombia and Mexico. Employing meticulous use of court documents, independent sources, and on-the-ground reporting in both countries, this three-part series examines the faces, the places and chronology of a vast criminal enterprise that moved thousands of pounds of drugs along a supply route that begins in South America and winds its way through Central America to the northeastern United States. Spectacular reporting.

Honorable Mention
  • Más indigenas en cárceles de EEUU: Claudia Nuñez, La Opinión, Los Angeles
  • Triquis se Afincan en Valle de Salinas: Eileen Traux, La Opinión, Los Angeles


Cross-Border Cops Arrest Father Jim

By Thomas MacMillan from New Haven Independent & La Voz Hispana

Matt ObrienAfter covering the arrest of a respected local priest for video taping police activities inside a Latino grocery store, reporter MacMillan stayed on the story, covering subsequent news events and allegations of harassment by police against Latino residents of East Haven. His series of follow-up stories about the racial and ethnic tensions in East Haven are a fine example of traditional shoe leather reporting, consistent news coverage and the use of video, digital photos and court documents to provide context for the overall story. A strong marriage of multimedia and journalism.

Honorable Mention
  • Brooklyn Family Keeps Latino-Jewish Traditions Alive: Dana Rosenblatt, CNN
  • Battle Zone: Daniel Newhauser, Cronkie Zine, Arizona State University.

Winners 2008

Spanish Print Category - First Prize

Esclavos del siglo XXI

By Claudia Nuñez from La Opinión

Claudia NuñezIn this well-documented series on Mexican immigrants lured to northern California by phony promises of good paying jobs who end up as virtual slaves in service jobs, Ms. Nuñez captures the human drama of this story of our times. The series is exquisitely crafted, meticulously reported and captures the human dimension of the male and female immigrants caught in a pernicious web of human trafficking, which has become a crisis of global proportions.

Honorable Mention
  • Guerra en los bosques: Traficantes amenazan, por Eva Sanchis, El Diario/La Prensa
  • Luchó hasta el fin: Voluntarios desafían una montana para encontrar a un inmigrante, por Hiram Soto, Enlace

Hispanic Immigrant Stories Category - First Prize

The Mayan Way

By Matt OBrien from Daily Review

Matt ObrienAn expertly told tale of the immigration of indigenous rural Guatemalans to a suburban community in the San Francisco Bay area. This series, published in English and Spanish, explores the push and pull factors of the Guatemalans immigration the violence and poverty that drives them north, the promise that beckons, and the risks they encounter to survive in the alien culture of the United States. The series is enhanced by excellent images and moving first-person audio accounts by the immigrants.

Honorable Mention
  • Death in the Desert: Jesus long journey home, by Mariana Alvarado Avalos, Arizona Daily Star.
  • The Best of all Bad Choices, by Angelica Herrera, The Chicago Reporter.

Entry Experience and Rules

AL DIA Foundation's "Varela Journalism Master Practicum" will allow Felix Varela Fellows to have daily interaction with AL DIA News Media's editorial staff and the many facets of digital media.

AL DIA News Media is a nationally award winning news media company, based in Philadelphia, that challenges mainstream media stereotypes of the Latino experience. Having built a solid brand reputation over the last 20 years, AL DIA has continued to grow and is ready to explode beyond the realm of traditional media. The company's online content includes its news website as well as its numerous social media outlets. It also has a robust events presence in the Philadelphia region, featuring dynamic events that host nationally elected and appointed figures as well as Fortune 500 leaders. Our Philadelphia print product has a 96% market penetration.

In 2014 the company will be launching a website with a focus on national content generation.

We're not a small company: we've been in business over 20 years and have a fancy Center City office with a fun view onto Market Street, but we don't forget our North Philadelphia roots, either.

Entry Procedures and Requirements
  • There is no entry fee.
  • No entry materials will be returned.
  • No faxed or e-mail entries.
  • MUST have Master's Degree in Journalism or related field
  • MUST have Basic knowledge of HTML, video editing (Final Cut Pro) and Adobe Photoshop
  • MUST have availability for a 10 month commitment
  • Complete questionnaire
  • Complete the two essay questions
  • Resume and a creative cover letter
  • 3 writing samples of your work in other publications/media vehicles
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • An interview

Materials may be used by the AL DÍA Foundation for promotional purposes of the "Félix Varela" Awards.


Entries for the 2014 & 2015 awards must be postmarked no later than September 22nd, 2014.

Entry Application

Copy of the application is available here in Adobe PDF format. The entry form must be downloaded, printed, and mailed to the address below.

AL DÍA Foundation
1835 Market Street, 4th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
e-mail: foundation@aldianews.com


Contact us

To receive updates or request additional information please write to us.


AL DIA Foundation

1835 Market Street
4th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103