In April and May 2020, Denise coordinated a civil society campaign to ensure teachers can discuss issues like gender equality, racism, sexual and reproductive rights in schools. Through public and media awareness campaigns and a manual against censorship in schools, Denise helped ensure the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil ruled three anti-gender municipal laws unconstitutional and stated that it is the duty of the state to address gender and sexuality in schools. She also co-authored a participatory methodology to overcome racism in schools.
With the other Brazilian Education Champions, Denise organised a public hearing in November 2019 where quilombola and Indigenous girls urged Brazilian leaders to support their right to learn. At the hearing, Denise presented a new report by Malala Fund Champions, which encouraged the National Congress of Brazil to renew the Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Education and Valuing Education Professionals (FUNDEB). FUNDEB is the government financing mechanism that makes sure marginalised schools get the resources they need to support their students. Unless Congress takes action, FUNDEB will end in December 2020. Their report also explained the structural racism that prevents students in Brazil from learning and recommends how leaders can address these inequalities with changes and increases in education funding. The report also included testimonials from girls about the challenges facing their schools, including poor bathrooms, unreliable transportation, underpaid teachers and insufficient access to technology.
As a result of the years of advocacy from education leaders like Denise, in August 2020, the Brazilian senate approved the constitutional amendment that makes FUNDEB permanent, an important step in ensuring that the government funds free and quality basic education for all students.
In 2019, Denise facilitated self-defence workshops for girls in São Paulo from different social backgrounds. The girls discussed gender-based discrimination and violence within and outside of schools. They shared their experiences speaking out for their rights and offered advice for each other. Ação Educativa published two publications on Brazilian girls’ rights and education, which Ação Educativa shared in workshops and online.
In November 2018, Denise with partners published the "Defence Manual Against Censorship in Schools," a guide for teachers on how to protect themselves from threats against free speech about gender and diversity. The manual saw over 130,000 downloads and received coverage in more than 30 media outlets.
Currently, Denise leads a national coalition of organisations that advocates for educational funding and other social and environmental policies and for a new economy committed to human rights and environmental sustainability.