Francisco Barajas, Aida Alvarez Civic Leadership Fellow



With an insatiable hunger for justice and serving the community, Francisco brings a steadfast commitment and wealth of experiences as the Latino Community Foundation’s first Aida Alvarez Civic Leadership Fellow.

Proud of his humble beginnings, Francisco’s passion is fueled by the history of his roots and the institutional barriers that inhibit marginalized communities from social, political, and economic progress. He is the product of a hardworking woman who migrated to the United States with the hopes and dreams of providing a better life for her family. This woman, who he is proud to call madre, instilled in him a deep respect for human life and an empathetic alertness of the chronic struggle. From this, a commitment to serve others and break adverse generational cycles was born!

After graduating from California State University, Fullerton, Francisco served as a US Peace Corps Education Volunteer in rural South Africa teaching grades six through seven. Throughout those two years, he pioneered innovative strategies to increase student learning outcomes by implementing programs such as reading club, computer literacy, and remedial intervention. Most notably, he directed a full-length musical production of The Lion King with a group of 80 cast members. He saw this project as an opportunity to enable community participation and developed school-business partnerships that inadvertently led to a grassroots movement.

Having accumulated on the ground international experience, he transitioned into policy by joining the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program as a Research Policy Fellow for Sierra Leone. Brought on by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, he was tasked with identifying potential districts to launch a Girls Stay-In-School Pilot utilizing cash transfers to alleviate gender-based violence, teen pregnancy, poverty, health disparities, and to boost women’s empowerment. In addition, Francisco has also done work for Guatemala responding to school disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Empresarios por la Educacion, an education advocacy nonprofit, he drafted policy recommendations on distance learning strategies for under-resourced areas facing disparities such as limited technology access, food insecurity, and scarce resources. Following this, Francisco and his team were invited by UNESCO to publish their research in a book titled, Learning to Build Back Better Futures for Education. He has also done research on education services in U.S. detention centers for undocumented children and strategies to encourage undocumented students to pursue higher education in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Francisco received his masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a concentration in International Education Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. In his free time, he enjoys trying new recreational activities such as surfing, rock climbing, dance classes, and photography. Although he enjoys cooking, he firmly believes that his dishes will never taste as good as his moms!