Latinos In Action (LIA) offers an asset-based approach to bridging the graduation and opportunity gap for Latino students, working from within the educational system to create positive change. Our program operates as a year-long elective course taught by a highly-qualified teacher at the middle school, junior high, and high school level. The end goal of everything we do is to empower Latino youth to lead and strengthen their communities through college and career readiness. We accomplish this by focusing on four pillars: leveraging personal and cultural assets, excelling in education, serving the community, and developing leadership skills.
Because of this unique combination, the LIA model has proven effective throughout the United States. Our students go on to successfully complete post-secondary education and earn a livable wage at a higher rate than the national average while continuing to lead and strengthen their communities. In 2015, LIA was awarded the White House Bright Spot for Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Excellence in Hispanic Education.
By design, LIA students engage in three evidenced-based, core components during class time:
Our culturally relevant, college and career readiness curriculum bolsters students’ current academic performance while preparing them for their futures as college-bound students and contributing members of society. The curriculum offers high-quality instruction on post-secondary education options and readiness, personal development, professionalism, and an exploration of one’s cultural heritage through literary and performing arts.
Each LIA student gains real-life leadership experience by participating in student-lead service, social, and professional committees. We are scaffolding their leadership skills and then infusing the students back into the school community, better prepared to lead and serve.
From approximately October to April, LIA students serve as role models, mentors, and literacy tutors for neighboring elementary school students. This partnership helps both parties develop linguistic proficiency, refine social skills, and deepen their understanding of the value of being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural.
Growing up in Los Angeles, José began to recognize in high school that very few of his Latino peers participated in rigorous coursework, extracurricular activities, and community service. With the support of his mother, whom he credits for his passion and drive, José received a wrestling scholarship to Brigham Young University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Spanish, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, and finally a PhD in Educational Leadership.
As a teacher, and later an administrator, José saw again what he’d started to notice as a student in Los Angeles: Latino youth were disengaged and disenfranchised at school. In addition, they often shunned their cultural heritage, which he believes is at the heart of every Latino youth’s drive to excel. This gap kept students, who could offer the classroom and community a wealth of knowledge, experience, and unique perspectives, from graduating high school and college. In effect, this phenomenon kept students from reaching their potential.
José recognized the barriers these young Latinos faced within their own homes and communities. He saw himself in these students and reflected on the opportunities, experiences, and mentors that had allowed him— a low-income, non-English-speaking immigrant— to succeed.
The combination of these experiences and reflections led José to begin the Latinos in Action program.
Dr. Enriquez began the first class of Latinos In Action at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah.
LIA hosted its first Annual Youth Leadership Conference at with 1000 students at Mountain View High School.
LIA became an official non-profit and grew to 37 schools.
LIA started in six schools in Florida, in Broward County Schools.
In 2015, LIA was awarded the White House Bright Spot for Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Excellence in Hispanic Education.
The number of states with LIA doubles from four to eight as Arizona, California, Colorado, and Connecticut join the famiLIA.
Nevada and New York will both add LIA classes in 2019.