After a 37-year career at a Silicon Valley high tech company, Ivan retired in 2011 to start Educa2 to fully focus on improving the education of Latino students and their parents. He is a 2015 grant recipient of both the SF Latina and SF Latino Giving Circles, totaling an investment of $20,000. Ivan was so inspired by the Giving Circle model that he also joined the SF Latino Men’s Giving Circle.
Tell us your background and what inspires you the most?
I’ve been in this country for almost 50 years and still consider myself a Latino.
I come from a poor Colombian family, but a very loving family. We are now spread all over the world, but still close. Everyone worked really hard, a lot of sacrifices were made and I had to be the example. I learned early on that selfishness doesn’t make you happy. My mother always guided me and taught me that kindness, perseverance and patience is what makes you happy.
I have an MBA and spent many years working in Engineering, International Sales and Marketing and general management.
What are you proudest of?
My son Juan David, he is my masterpiece. He is 31 years old and he works as a Senior Strategist with Matter, a design firm based in San Francisco. He is very kind and has a huge heart. Out of all my accomplishments, I’m proudest of him.
The program I run is my second masterpiece. Giving back is a huge part of what I do. I would never have been afforded these opportunities in Colombia so I want to do the most I can for my community. What changed my life was getting an education. I want to be able to give that opportunity to someone else. That is why I started the organization, Educa2.
What’s the greatest opportunity for Latinos?
To get the tools they need to be more proactive leaders not just for Latinos, but for all communities. We need to create more social impact opportunities and not just meet our individual needs. There needs to be more opportunities to be involved at the table. I’ve also learned that education leads to power.
What are some of the barriers that Latinos face?
Latinos are often looked at as lesser than others. There’s a negative image of Latinos that has been created. The challenge is to change that image and it is our job to do so.
In education, the school system by design doesn’t cater to the needs of Latino students.
Another fundamental barrier is we are such a large and growing population. There are huge holes in the education system especially for English Language Learners, for their parents and a lack of school support.
Tell us about Educa2 and your model?
Our model is focused on two things:
1) Equipping Latino ELL students with the innovative tools they need to succeed in school and in life.
2) Empowering parents to become actively engaged in their children’s education
It is an integrated model that helps advance the students’ learnings skills and empowers parents to be part of their growth. The academic goal is to bring struggling second and third graders to English Language proficiency level within one to two years, but also to develop socio-emotional traits (e.g. growth-mindset, grit, perseverance, mindfulness) children need to become creative, confident, happy, thoughtful, and resourceful students and adults.
In our compulsory parental engagement program, Educa2 parents are coached on navigating the US school system, and in ways of creating a nurturing, supporting learning environment at home. To develop teamwork and leadership skills, all educa2 parents must actively participate in school activity committees. With our partners we also train parents on basic computer and Internet skills and encourage them to take ESL classes at the local Adult school. In order to accomplish all these goals we must be able to build their trust and meet them where they are.
How do you build trust with Latino parents? We think this is very important and can help others.
I can only tell you how I do it. You have to be with the people. I sometimes go to the same church on Sundays and I intentionally shop at the same grocery store, La Hacienda Market, because some of the people that I’m working to empower are employees there. I eat and celebrate and share my life with this community I am building.
1) You have to become part of their community.
2) Communication is key. Schools need to learn how to better communicate with Latino parents and understand their culture and values. There is room for support and improvement. You can’t just send out an email and expect the Latino parents to show up.
What is your vision for the organization in the next five years?
1) Complete and validate the model;
2) Replicate and scale it; and
3) Find key partners – we cannot do this alone
We want to make an impact for the 190,000 ELL Students who live in the Bay Area and over 1.4 million in California.
What does success look like?
For the Kids: Happy Learners.
For the Parents: They feel like they count.
What does it mean for you to receive a grant from both the Latino Giving Circle and Latina Giving Circle?
Receiving this funding validates our work. The affirmation has been a major benefit to our organization, Board members and community. The money is nice, but it’s always more than the money that counts. This has given us a boost. All of our advisors, school officials, Board members were ecstatic to receive this news. I did not expect to get anything from Foundations.
What advice would you give other leaders who want to start a nonprofit?
I did at least two years of research before starting my nonprofit.
1) Get your ideas on paper, do your due diligence and create a business plan.
2) Have a passion for the work.
Why did you join the Latino Giving Circle?
The model is fantastic. It’s an opportunity for Latinos to learn about the work happening in the community and discuss how together we can make an impact. It’s a form of philanthropy that is engaging and dynamic.
What is your super-power?
I am trustworthy and been told I have a kind face. I am also very transparent. People will not trust you if you aren’t transparent.
When are you Happiest?
I am happiest surrounded by the people I love. Happiness is something you also carry inside.
If a child walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
I would ask, where are your parents?
Educa2 is an organization based in the San Francisco Peninsula and dedicated to improving the education of Latino students and their families. Educa2 equips elementary school Latino children with innovative skills to succeed in school and in life and empowers parents to actively engage in their children’s education.