An Investment in Latinx Students is an Investment in our Shared Future and Prosperity
By: Adriana Solis-López
This giving season I’ve been reflecting on what makes me so passionate about inspiring investments in the promise of Latino communities.
I joined Latinos for Education as Chief Development Officer in September. I am a Latina with two small daughters, and I believe in the promise of our future. I believe that every investment in Latinos is an investment in the future of our country.
Latinos now make up 20 percent of the U.S. population and we are forecasted to reach 29 percent by 2050. A quarter of all students in our public schools identify as Latino. Yet, less than two percent of all philanthropic giving goes towards Latino-led organizations and causes.
This is something I hope to change.
I know firsthand how transformative education can be. I grew up in an immigrant household in Southeast Los Angeles. My mother was a domestic and assembly line worker and my father was a farm and hospitality worker; neither made it past elementary school. My parents, both now retired, were unable to read or teach the alphabet to me and my siblings growing up, but my mother did instill a mandate from early on: get your college degree.
I had to fight the whole way through school for visibility and voice. I advocated my way into college prep, honors, and advanced placement classes. I did not have the guidance or support to apply to a four-year college. My K-12 schools never authentically engaged my parents; instead, they humiliated them for not understanding our educational system or the English language. My high school was 99% Latino, but I only had one Latino teacher (my Spanish teacher) who was also tasked with being the translator and the de facto tio for the entire student body. We did not have a name for the Brown Tax back then, but he paid it.
America’s dream of educational equity demands fierce commitment and collective action.
Latinos for Education is scaling fast to meet the challenges of this critical moment.
As we kick off the giving season, we are renewing our pledge to focus all our resources and energy on repairing, rebuilding, and reimagining a new education system.
Please join us by making a year-end gift. Together, we can rise up with one voice to claim equitable opportunity for our students.
My experience makes me even more passionate about partnering with others to create opportunities for Latinos, from cradle to career. The inequities I experienced as a first- generation high school and college graduate are the same ones that Latinos for Education is working to eradicate.
As I made my way through our education system, transferring from community college to a four-year institution and eventually earning a graduate degree, I gained more and more access to opportunity. I’ve been blessed to work with organizations that are making educational equity and opportunity a reality for more Latino students like me. That is why the work I do now, and the mission of Latinos for Education is deeply personal to me.
We need increased investments to expand opportunities for Latino students and a system that inspires them to reach their fullest potential. We need a system that supports them to dream and achieve bigger things, instead of locking them into the status quo with limited economic mobility.
It’s possible to build an education system that has more Latino representation at all levels— as superintendents, principals, educators, counselors, social workers, and support staff— helping our students aspire and thrive.
It’s possible to build an education system that gives Latino families and guardians a seat at the table, treating them as co-designers for the solutions and initiatives that will help their children succeed.
It’s possible to build an education system where the voice of Latino leaders is front and center, shaping policies and practices for all our students.
My years in K-12 classrooms are behind me, but my daughters and millions of other BLIPOC children are just getting started. I do this work for them.
Because when Latinos succeed, we all succeed.
Adriana Solís-López is the Chief Development Officer at Latinos for Education and leads the development and partnerships function across the organization. She has dedicated her career to social justice work and has worked in various local and international nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area for over ten years. In these last 12 years, she has worked in organizations focused on education, youth development, immigrant rights, workforce development, peacekeeping and environmental justice. Most recently, Adriana was the Vice President of Development at College Track, a national nonprofit focusing on college access and persistence, where she secured an eight-figure investment, the largest gift in the organization’s history. In her spare time, Adriana enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her family.