The UN cultural agency on Friday named Brazilian footballer Vinicius Junior its "goodwill ambassador for education for all".
The 23-year-old Real Madrid forward said becoming a UNESCO representative was "more than an honour".
"It's an achievement and a duty which I'll carry with me for the rest of my life," he said at a ceremony at the club's training ground in Madrid.
"Of course, I want to be recognised as a great player, but also as a citizen who tried to make a difference."
UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said Vinicius had been chosen for being not only "an exceptional football player" but also "a committed advocate for equal opportunity through education in Brazil".
Vinicius, who has repeatedly been targeted with racial slurs in Spain, has become a leader in the fight against racism in football.
In 2021, he set up the Instituto Vini Jr. to help Brazilian children and teenagers from underprivileged neighbourhoods get back into school, according to UNESCO.
Vinicius last year finished sixth in voting for the Ballon d'Or and won the Socrates award, named after the Brazil football icon, in recognition of his humanitarian work.
He was signed by Madrid for 45 million euros as a teenager from Brazilian club Flamengo, and he is set to stay with the Spanish side until 2027.
UNESCO estimates that 250 million children and teenagers have no access to school, with social inequality being one of the main reasons they drop out of education.