I GREW UP in a small farm town called Eloy, Arizona, which I thought was the center of the universe. It was 4,000 people—beautiful, very rural. My mom was one of the first Latinas in Arizona to be elected to the school board. People were always sitting around our kitchen table as my mom tried to help solve issues in our community. What she taught me was that people come to you to be heard, not to be told. Part of being a leader is doing more listening than talking.
If you can speak three languages, you can learn from so many different people. It opens your eyes to different experiences in life.”
When I became a civil rights attorney, I wanted to help kids like me who had grown up in a rural community, from what people said was “a disadvantaged background.” But I never felt disadvantaged. I wanted to take the stigma away. I wanted to ensure children could live the life they wanted to live, without all the labels.
The face of our country is changing. In the 2020 U.S. Census, one of the largest demographic swings reported was individuals checking more than one race box. My focus now is trying to reach the diverse population of kids entering schools in a format they can understand and relate to.
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I would describe Encantos as the first-ever global creator platform that brings diverse story teachers into living rooms for kids to learn 21st-century skills—the fundamental skills for the future. We have a creator named Tyrus, an African American father who teaches financial literacy through stories. We are also on this platform to teach kids resilience, grit, and empathy. But how do you translate grit to a five-year-old, right? So we have another creator who invented a character named Wally the Worried Walrus who teaches kids breathing skills and how to deal with the anxiety that has come with the pandemic.
Learning doesn’t stop at 2:30 when the class bell rings. So we partner with teachers and parents after the school day ends.
We know that many of our kids come from a multicultural environment. The ability to speak more than one language is a powerful thing. If you can speak three languages, you can learn from so many different people. It opens your eyes to different experiences in life. We want to encourage that growth in all children and help them be creative in thinking about what it means to be a global citizen because that’s going to be more important than ever.