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“This is a big idea whose time has come” said Robert Renteria, International Award Winning Latino Author. Robert was a successful businessman who could not simply sit on the sidelines and watch our children becoming a blood bath of statistics. He closed his business and has dedicated his life to bringing our kids viable educational tools that address the now issues of bullying, gangs, violence, drugs and school dropouts.
Renteria was quoted “we have money for wars and can’t feed the poor, we have children, teenagers and adults alike walking around lost alone in a culture of darkness” and he decided to do something about it.
Everyday seven seconds in America a child is being bullied and everyday approximately 160,000 kids will not go to schools the following day in fear of being bullied or beaten by fellow students. There was approximately over 18,000 murders in 2017 and year to date in 2018 we have had 23 school shootings. “Where is the outrage, how many more of our babies will die” said Renteria?
Now, Renteria was frustrated when saying “we can do more of the same and have marches and protests screaming and yelling into a blow horn, we can have more prayer vigils, more panel discussions talking about the obvious, continue trying to put band aids on bullet wounds or we can actually try fixing these problems.” He believes that the ultimate weapon is not a loaded gun but an educated mind.
In 2008, Renteria released his first book From the Barrio to the Board Room, shortly after that same year Robert paid to have a curricula developed by principals and teachers to teach the Barrio book as a tool in middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities to improve student achievement. The curricula address’s what is called SEL-social and emotional learning, helping our kids with their critical thinking skills and bridging the educational gap.
Renteria came from humble beginnings growing up poor in the barrio of East LA, he knows exactly what challenges our children are facing every day. Robert said “when our children have to learn how to dodge a bullet before they learn how to read we have a serious problem”.
In 2009 a faith-based curricula was developed by pastors to teach the Barrio book in bible studies to help lead our kids to Christ so that they too can see the promise land. (Both the school based and faith curricula are donated to all schools and churches at NO cost!).
After Roenteria spent the first couple of years working with educators and speaking directly to thousands of students in schools across the country, he wanted to develop another tool that can literally be used to help curb and decrease gang members recruitment efforts. Robert knows intimately that the gang bangers try recruiting by preying on our innocent little kids in elementary schools so he released a high end graphic novel called Mi Barrio. This comic book was voted in 2012 the best graphic novel in Latin America, Spain and the U.S. for addressing youth issues. This award was presented on behalf of the International Latino Literacy Book Awards Co-Founders, Mr. Kirk Whisler and our very own Mr. James Edward Olmos.
Now that Renteria was successful in impacting kids 3rd grade and higher grades, he wanted to go back and reach the Pre-K, K, 1ST & 2ND graders. He then released a wonderful activity coloring book called Little Barrio. He was determined to promote high expectations for all children.
Renteria has developed over the past 12 & ½ years by investing over $350,000.00 to benefit our children’s futures and education, a comprehensive bilingual non generic book series and program that is culturally relevant. The Barrio books give our kids hope while teaching them to believe and to dream really big because if the dream is big enough the odds don’t even matter. The Barrio books resonate with the youth while also promoting student achievement. The Barrio books are used to inspire and motivate our kids of all ages, races and economic backgrounds teaching them to be accountable for their actions. The books and program are also used to teach our children that character is not just doing what is right when someone is watching you but rather it’s doing the right thing when nobody is watching.
Imagine actually doing more than teaching our kids to test but rather teaching them to think and to learn, to realize that there are serious consequences for their actions and to realize that they must be accountable for every step they take in life. Our kids need to focus to be motivated to embrace their clear choices to help them develop positive relationships which will impact their family, work, community and country.
What is needed now that this model has been tried and tested, a solution that’s working in real time is connecting with partnerships. What is needed are collaborations that require enormous energy, effort and especially enthusiasm to sustain innovative change with people who understand how to balance and achieve the Barrio vision. Our work is what endures. The endurance of our work is what is meaningful.
The From the Barrio to the Board Room track record reveals the reflection and feedback across the country and beyond. Leaders, businesses, corporations and investors on a local, district, national and international level who are seeking to impact social cultural relevance for our children with peace building through education and literacy, do reach out to Mr. Renteria who is also the chairman of The Barrio Foundation a (501c3) not for profit organization (www.fromthebarrio.com).
Significant to note is that Robert Renteria is the first and only Latino in the world to ever receive two national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. awards for his work as a civil rights community leader and a steady voice in educational reform.
Please contact him personally to get involved and to help make a difference at Robert@fromthebarrio.com. ¡Si Se Puede!
UC Davis is months from joining nine other Hispanic Serving Institutions that are also Research One. This achievement is a result of long term efforts among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. Together, they crafted a shared vision for making UC Davis a 21st Century leader in educating the next generation of Latinx leaders with the multicultural perspective on Science needed to solve the most vexing problems affecting our communities
Since 2012, the NSF-sponsored Center for Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS) has helped transform UC Davis as a leader in educating STEM Latinx students. With a mission of supporting discovery and innovation in STEM though an inclusive environment that recognizes, values, and supports the contributions of women scientists from under-represented minorities, CAMPOS has supported a total of 24 new scholars (the majority Latinx) who have brought to UC Davis multicultural approaches to their research, teaching, and service. These scholars range from a chemist, Assistant Professor Marie Cuevas Heffern, who is uncovering the roles and applications of metals in the endocrine system to develop therapeutic solutions to endocrine disorders to a computer scientist, Assistant Professor Cindy Rubio Gonzalez, who, through NSF support, is creating ways to protect software quality, an idea that the NSF recognized as innovative, important, and transformative for future research in software quality.
These CAMPOS scholars are transforming UC Davis in visible ways by conducting research that benefits society. This past year, for example, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Math Society featured Professor Mariel Vazquez among 24 other Latinx mathematicians in the US who are making significant contributions to the field. Prof. Vazquez works at the interface of mathematics and biology to study important biological processes such as DNA replication and repair. In January 2018, Assistant Professor Rebecca Hernandez received the Outstanding Science, Advocacy Award from the Center for Biological Diversity for her work to promote smart solar energy to safeguard our climate and precious desert landscapes. In May 2018, Assistant Professor Lillian Cruz-Orengo was one of two faculty to receive the Early Career Faculty Award for Creativity and Innovation for her work titled “A Novel Human Blood-Brain Barrier Model.” Cruz-Orengo has dedicated her research to finding cures for autoimmune disorders, like Multiple Sclerosis, a condition likely to affect women in higher rates than men and Latinx communities much more than previously studied.
CAMPOS scholars are also inspiring students through their work as dedicated teachers and mentors by promoting inclusive practices in STEM for future generations. In a May 2018 article for Scientific American, Assistant Professor Rebecca M. Calisi, who studies bird brains to understand how physical, chemical and social environments affect the reproduction and health of organisms, documented the challenges women in STEM face in an academic system that has traditionally not valued motherhood. Associate Professor Veronica Martinez-Cerdeño who studies the human brain to better understand autism, co-established her own foundation, The Ventricular Foundation. The Foundation promotes the dissemination of knowledge on brain development and its evolution and conducts outreach to educate the public and K-12 students about the societal benefits of neurobiological research. In March 2018, Martínez-Cerdeño joined Cruz-Orengo and Associate Professor Miriam Nuño, a mathematician who uses statistics to predict the success of surgical interventions to participate in the 18Th Annual UC Davis César Chavez Youth Leadership Conference Celebration to share their personal journeys to becoming scientists with 35 mostly Latina girls from dozens of California high schools. Their sincerity and openness in sharing their personal struggles of poverty, immigration status, language barriers, and lack of mentors inspired these young Latinas to become scientists just like these three impressive panelists.
In October 2017, only three months after becoming UC Davis’ seventh Chancellor and the first African-American in that role, Gary May inaugurated the speaker series “Leading and Breaking Barriers in Research, Higher Education, and Industry” at UC Davis. During his remarks, Chancellor May quoted Mariam Wright Edelman’s famous words: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” In this powerful phrase, Chancellor May has found inspiration to lead boldly. to sustain and grow the diversity gains at UC Davis. Not surprisingly, UC Davis Strategic Vision “To Boldly Go,” under Chancellor May’s leadership, includes diversity and inclusion as one of its top goals. A concrete measure of this commitment is UC Davis’ continued support for CAMPOS and the institutional transformation initiatives begun with the National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant. Under the co-leadership of its founding director Professor Mary Lou de Leon Siantz and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity Raquel Aldana, UC Davis will continue to invest in the success of existing and new CAMPOS faculty scholars as it emerges to become a 21st Century Hispanic Serving Institution. By doing so, May has remarked that, “we will give life to Edelman’s words and make UC Davis a place where all students can see themselves represented.”
By Professor Mary Lou De Leon Siantz, Ph.D., R.N. F.A.A.N. and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity and Professor of Law, Raquel Aldana, J.D.
Mary Lou De Leon Siantz and Raquel Aldana