The California School-Age Consortium is proud to highlight Araceli Espinoza from CalSAC's Leadership Development Institute 360°/365 fellowship. Araceli is a leader who has demonstrated unrivaled commitment to the field and drive for advanced leadership in the out-of-school time and early learning field.
Araceli Espinoza, was born and raised in south east Los Angeles, and has been in youth work for the entirety of her career. She began working in her community as a youth leader while in high school; putting together a Battle of the Bands for the Latino punk bands in the area. In 2009, Araceli started working in literacy at her local library, where she also received literacy support as a young person. In the four years that Araceli worked with the library, she worked with various schools in expanding the Battle of the Books competition among the district. She eventually moved to San Francisco, to study the fine art at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in painting. Through her experience in art school, she made it a point to create art that celebrated the negative stereotypes, and also gave a face to women who are underrepresented in Mexico.
While studying, she stumbled across Girls Inc. of Alameda County in Oakland, CA. She began her career as a program leader in 2014. Going back to her roots of literacy work, Araceli found a way to incorporate art into her lessons, and expanding the curriculum with her young scholars. She found herself in a place to creatively create an art curriculum that touches on literacy, feminism, and cultural representation. Through Girls Inc. training, Araceli found a new love for math through art and music. Araceli presently works as an after school program coordinator at an Oakland elementary school.
Araceli’s fundamental values of giving back comes from being a first generation Mexican American daughter. She was taught to give back to the community in which raised her, to provide a space for young people to thrive in a world where they are seen as a stereotypes and may not be given the opportunities they deserve. Her goal is to build an after school program that improves the literacy skills of elementary students, and also build an enrichment program that provides a space for young scholars to creatively explore their interests. Representation matters in Araceli’s program, and encourages her team to bring their true selves.
Outside of work, Araceli takes care of herself by painting, visiting museums and galleries, hiking around the Bay Area, propagating vegetables, and in the summer enjoying some good old Dodgers beisbol.