About LIA

About Us

Latinos In Action (LIA) offers an asset-based approach to bridging the graduation and opportunity gap for Latino students, working from within the educational system to create positive change. Our program operates as a year-long elective course taught by a highly-qualified teacher at the middle school, junior high, and high school level. The end goal of everything we do is to empower Latino youth to lead and strengthen their communities through college and career readiness. We accomplish this by focusing on four pillars: leveraging personal and cultural assets, excelling in education, serving the community, and developing leadership skills.

Because of this unique combination, the LIA model has proven effective throughout the United States. In 2015, LIA was awarded the White House Bright Spot for Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Excellence in Hispanic Education.

By design, LIA students engage in three evidenced-based, core components during class time:

College and Career Readiness Curriculum:

Our culturally relevant, college and career readiness curriculum bolsters students’ current academic performance while preparing them for their futures as college-bound students and contributing members of society. The curriculum offers high-quality instruction on post-secondary education options and readiness, personal development, professionalism, and an exploration of one’s cultural heritage through literary and performing arts.

Leadership Development:

Each LIA student gains real-life leadership experience by participating in student-lead service, social, and professional committees. We are scaffolding their leadership skills and then infusing the students back into the school community, better prepared to lead and serve.

Literacy Tutoring:

From approximately October to April, LIA students serve as role models, mentors, and literacy tutors for neighboring elementary school students. This partnership helps both parties develop linguistic proficiency, refine social skills, and deepen their understanding of the value of being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural.

The Story of LIA

Dr. José Enriquez, founder and CEO of Latinos In Action, set out not to build an organization, but to build Latino students into the leaders he knew they are capable of becoming. LIA is what grew out of that vision.

Growing up in Los Angeles, José began to recognize in high school that very few of his Latino peers participated in rigorous coursework, extracurricular activities, and community service. With the support of his mother, whom he credits for his passion and drive, José received a wrestling scholarship to Brigham Young University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Spanish, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, and finally a PhD in Educational Leadership.


As a teacher, and later an administrator, José saw again what he’d started to notice as a student in Los Angeles: Latino youth were disengaged and disenfranchised at school. In addition, they often shunned their cultural heritage, which he believes is at the heart of every Latino youth’s drive to excel. This gap kept students, who could offer the classroom and community a wealth of knowledge, experience, and unique perspectives, from graduating high school and college. In effect, this phenomenon kept students from reaching their potential.


José recognized the barriers these young Latinos faced within their own homes and communities. He saw himself in these students and reflected on the opportunities, experiences, and mentors that had allowed him— a low-income, non-English-speaking immigrant— to succeed.


The combination of these experiences and reflections led José to begin the Latinos in Action program.


The Timeline of LIA


Dr. Enriquez began the first class of Latinos In Action at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah.


LIA hosted its first Annual Youth Leadership Conference at with 1000 students at Mountain View High School.


LIA became an official non-profit and grew to 37 schools.


LIA started in six schools in Florida, in Broward County Schools.


In 2015, LIA was awarded the White House Bright Spot for Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Excellence in Hispanic Education.


The number of states with LIA doubles from four to eight as Arizona, California, Colorado, and Connecticut join the famiLIA.


Nevada and New York will both add LIA classes in 2019.

Latinos In Action is currently in the following states. Feel free to hover over each state to learn more about each region’s program.



In 2014, Michael Ramirez, Cadre Director in Broward County Public Schools, met Dr. Enriquez. He instantly knew that he wanted to bring LIA to Florida, and worked to pilot the program in six schools during the 2014-2015 school year. The next year, the program grew to 16 schools in Broward County, four in Orange County, and one in Palm Beach. Michael Ramirez was also pivotal in launching the first annual Youth Leadership Conference at Florida Atlantic University. Just one year later, in the 2016-2017 school year, the program tripled in size and expanded into Hillsborough County, Lee County, and Seminole County. Florida LIA students are a powerhouse of excitement and achievement.


Laura Lee Carlisle was LIA’s first contact in Idaho. Through her work, we were able to begin Latinos In Action at Jerome High School, and later expand to Jerome Middle School in the 2016-2017 school year. The students are a force for good in their community, and are constantly serving and empowering others to get involved.


LIA launched Chicago’s pioneer school in the 2016-2017 school year, at Leman Middle School in West Chicago. These young students are proactive and take the initiative to make their goals happen.


Dr. Enriquez began Latinos In Action in 2001 at Timpview High School. Thanks to the visionary leadership of administration and teachers, in combination with the impact of thousands of LIA students throughout the state, LIA is now in 106 schools and 23 districts.


With the help and support of Superintendent Dr. Mario Ventura, LIA launched 4 classes in 2 schools in Isaac School District in the 2018-2019 school year. Their district has been the definition of support, and Arizona’s LIA students are hard workers who are making a difference.


Connecticut joined LIA with full force in both Hartford and New London School Districts in the 2018-2019 school year. There were many superintendents and educators that came together to make this possible, including Dr. Alberto Vazquez, Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Dr. Michael Conner, and Viviana Conner. Connecticut LIA students are joyful and eager to participate in all aspects of the LIA program. They are excellent models as the first LIA students in the Northeastern states.


LIA reached the West Coast in the 2018-2019 school year when Venture Academy piloted LIA in the Stockton Unified School District. Their students are a model of strong elementary school partnerships, and work hard to unite the community.


With the support and excitement from Principal Patricia Hurrieta and many other district leaders, LIA launched at Grant Ranch ECE-8 School in Denver Public Schools. LIA’s Colorado students are well-organized and have a lot of energy, which they put to good use as they plan service projects and explore their heritage.


LIA expanded to Nevada by partnering with Clark County School District. With the help of visionary superintendent Jesús Jara they launched with 3 schools in the 2019-2020 school year and added a 4th school for 2020-2021.

New York

New York Public Schools was the first district to launch LIA in the 2019-2020 school year. Hicksville Public Schools will become the 2nd district and school as they launch LIA in the 2020-2021 school year.


In 2019 Iowa launched LIA with one school in the Des Moines Public Schools district. Associate Principal Steven Schappaugh heard about LIA while visiting Florida, and with his excitement and enthusiasm made it happen in Iowa! The school district added a 2nd school in the 2020-2021 school year.


Massachusetts will join the Latinos In Action famiLIA in the 2020-2021 school year with one school in the Holyoke Public Schools district.