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Teach For America Alumna Vanessa Lugo-Acevedo Receives Presidential Honor

Teach For America Alumna Vanessa Lugo-Acevedo Receives Presidential Honor

Photo: Champions of Change (Teach For America)

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President Obama and the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics recognized Teach For America alumna Vanessa Lugo-Acevedo (Colorado Corps ’10) and 9 others as White House Champions of Change Latino Educators. The 10 honorees attended a special ceremony at the White House on Friday, August 31st. The White House Champions of Change program honors everyday Americans doing extraordinary things in their communities.

Lugo-Acevedo, whose parents emigrated from Mexico to Carpinteria in Southern California before she was born, is a 2010 graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and the first in her family to attend college. As a Teach For America-Colorado corps member, she taught pre-kindergarten at Denver’s Cole Arts and Sciences Academy, where she continues
to teach today.

“I believe the Champions of Change honor can open doors for Latino youth in our nation and motivate them to pursue a career in education,” said Lugo-Acevedo. “Our children yearn for educators who will not only provide them with a quality education but an educator who will communicate to them that their culture, language, and backgrounds are valuable assets that will help them achieve success.”

She is being recognized as a White House Champion of Change for her success at building strong relationships with her students and their families and leading her students to reach
ambitious goals, such as mastery of kindergarten standards. The parents of her students report that they feel empowered to expect the best education and advocate for themselves
throughout their child’s academic career.

Teach For America is the national corps of top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders
in the movement for educational equity. Teach For America focuses on recruiting corps members who share the backgrounds of the students it serves, 90 percent of whom are African American or Latino. This year, 10 percent of Teach For America’s incoming corps identify as Hispanic, and the organization is committed to steadily increasing the diversity of backgrounds and experiences among its teachers.

“Vanessa’s impact on the Cole community is a model for all of our corps members and alumni, and we’re inspired by her work and that of her fellow honorees,” said Amanda
Fernandez, vice president of Latino community partnerships at Teach For America. “We recognize the critical influence that Latino teachers can have as role models for our kids growing up in low-income communities, and we’re committed to fostering the leadership of more Latino educators. This is an exciting honor for both Vanessa and her family.”

The White House Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative to honor ordinary Americans doing great work in their communities. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.