In a perfect world, every student would have the tools and resources to graduate, pursue higher education and go on to have a fulfilling and successful career.

Unfortunately, systemic inequality prevents many students from achieving their full potential — and many of those students are students of color. 

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Thankfully, there are programs created with the sole purpose of lifting up marginalized and low-income students. Programs like City Year, that pair knowledgeable mentors with struggling students so that they can have a better shot at completing their education.

It’s no exaggeration to say that programs like City Year change lives. According to City Year, schools participating in their program are three times more likely to improve proficiency rates in math and two times more likely to improve on state English assessments. 

And now, for the first time in its 15-year history, City Year Los Angeles has a Latina Executive Director — Dr. Sandra Cano

Dr. Cano knows first-hand the hurdles marginalized students must overcome on their path to success. Raised in South Los Angeles, Dr. Cano is the daughter of an immigrant mother who worked hard enough to get Dr. Cano into private schools. With her education, she earned a degree at UCLA and became a teacher, and then a principal. She then committed her life to giving back, understanding not all students had her same opportunities.

“I am inspired to work for an antiracist organization that invests in the lives of young people who live in the communities near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Cano told mitú.

She is being acknowledged for the positive impact she’s making on her community. On January 21, the Los Angeles Rams gifted Dr. Cano with tickets to Super Bowl LVI as part of the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative. 

According to the NFL, Inspire Change is an initiative dedicated to “reducing barriers to opportunity and creating progress.” 

The LA Rams recognized Dr. Cano as a “social justice leader” who inspires change through her dedication to creating educational equity among students of color. 

For her part, Dr. Cano is blown away by the recognition from the Rams. “I feel that it is an honor and a privilege to do the work that I do,” she told mitú. “Being gifted something so significant for doing this work humbled me beyond words.”

Dr. Cano told mitú that she will be attending the game with her partner, adding that she felt fortunate to be able to experience such an exciting event with “someone who contributes to my life and helps make my work possible.”

To the young students who are struggling in school right now, Dr. Cano offers these words of encouragement: “There are so many folx that are dedicating their life’s work to create opportunities for you to succeed. You are not alone. We see you and we are here to serve you!”