Name: Gisselle Acevedo
Hometown: San Gabriel Valley
Profession: Para Los Niños President and CEO
“My name is Gisselle Acevedo, and I believe every child deserves to succeed.”
It’s hard to miss the news on an almost-daily basis about how our state’s fiscal crisis is negatively impacting education. If it’s not teacher furloughs and larger class sizes, it’s the elimination or reduction of arts or PE. Combine the shrinking dollars available for education with the critical importance of giving at-risk children the support they need to succeed in school – especially in the first 5 years of their lives – and you have a recipe for disaster.
Thanks to people like Gisselle Acevedo and organizations like Para Los Niños, the nonprofit that she runs, the future for at-risk children in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties isn’t as dire as it could be. Para Los Niños, founded more than 30 years ago, provides social support to 7,000 families at 22 locations in some of the most impoverished and dangerous areas of Southern California. Acevedo and her team work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to improve the education, physical health, mental health, safety, and economic well-being of children and their families.
“Where you grow up matters. It is a pivotal component of whether a child will thrive or sink into generational poverty, poor health and the abyss of the academic achievement gap,” said Acevedo. Para Los Niños works in communities to help families overcome such obstacles by plugging the gaps left by insufficient public support for vulnerable children.
Para Los Niños was recently selected by First 5 Los Angeles to lead the Best Start Metro LA pilot. Best Start is building collaboration among parents, business owners, child care providers, health care professionals, and community service agencies. By fostering parent leadership, this program is establishing solid resources for children and stronger communities for all.
“Through Best Start, we are building upon local community strengths to improve the lives of children prenatal to age 5 and their families,” said Acevedo. And that’s a recipe for success.