Edgar J. Palacios, MBA
President & CEO, Latinx Education Collaborative
Edgar J. Palacios is the President & CEO (founder) of the Latinx Education Collaborative (LEC), a nonprofit, start-up organization that works to increase the representation of Latinx education professionals in K-12. Edgar previously owned a nonprofit consultancy (EJPKC, LLC) and has had the privilege of working with organizations such as Community Builders of Kansas City; Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City; El Centro, Inc.; Show Me KC Schools; and the Kauffman Foundation.
Edgar served as Executive Director of Blue Hills Community Services (BHCS), a community development corporation situated in the heart of Kansas City’s urban core and led BHCS through a merger with Swope Community Builders. Prior to his time at Blue Hills, Edgar also served as Senior Director of Resource Development & Community Engagement at Connections to Success and Chief Engagement Officer at Central Exchange.
Edgar is an MBA graduate of Rockhurst University. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Tell us about the Latinx Education Collaborative? What work are you doing, and what difference are you making for our community?
I founded the Latinx Education Collaborative in 2018 to increase the representation of Latinx educators in K-12. According to a report the LEC released in February of this year, there are only 261 Latinx teachers in the greater Kansas City area. When you compare that number to the 51,000 Latinx K-12 students in our community, you recognize the disparity. Data demonstrate that when students see themselves reflected in the teachers that serve them, they have better educational outcomes.
The LEC thinks about this work in three verticals: community, pathway exposure, and building culture. Latinx teachers tend to feel isolated in their schools and leave the profession at higher rates than other communities. We strive to build a home where teachers feel less isolated, more supported and loved. We recognize that our future teachers are in schools today. We invite students to consider education as a viable career option and share the impact they could make. We also want to shift the paradigm from “How do we recruit new teachers of color?” into “How do we build school communities where teachers of color will thrive?” As the saying goes, “if you build it, they will come.”
The LEC also recently launched an affiliate organization, Revolución Educativa (RevED), in order to build sustained collective power in the Latinx community around issues of education. Latinos make up the fastest-growing demographic of students and we need to make sure that their voices and needs are heard and met.
Ultimately, the LEC wants to build a world where Latinx educators are abundant and thriving in spaces where Latinx people feel a strong sense of belonging and their identity is affirmed.
You are about to host the fourth Evolución conference – what have you learned in the last four years? What have you been able to accomplish with this conference?
Evolución is our version of homecoming; it is our signature event. We find a lot of joy in curating a space where our community of educators learns from Latinx leaders in this work. Evolución reminds me of three things: the power of convening, the need for community, and the passion of our people. When we bring educators together, we encourage them to build partners in this work, better their practice and remind them why they chose education as their career.
As an advocate and change agent in Kansas City, what is your advice to other professionals or young people who may want to make a difference in our community? How would you encourage them to get involved?
Kansas City is rich with opportunities to get involved. It is crucial to determine the causes for which you are passionate, find organizations that work in those areas, get connected, and offer help. I also think it is important to seek mentors and friends who will provide honest feedback and encourage you on the tough days.
As a rising leader in Kansas City, who have been your role models? What advice have they given you that has helped in your journey?
I am blessed with many people who take the time to encourage my dreams and push me towards realizing them. My role models have a few traits in common: they have an expansive vision, they are inclusive, they are community-centered, they are not afraid to take risks, and they enjoy what they do. A few words of wisdom I have received over the years include “trust, but verify”; “the invitation is so important”; “joy is an act of resistance”; “pa’lante”; and “you might consider a different approach”.
You are deeply involved in many Hispanic and LatinX organizations and initiatives in Kansas City, including serving on several boards – what do you want people to know about the energy in KC? Where should people look to learn more?
The Hispanic/Latino community is strong and present. We are here, we’ve been here, and we’re not going anywhere. We have great institutions in our community: El Centro, Guadalupe Centers, Mattie Rhodes, Hispanic Development Fund, Hispanic Economic Development Corporation, Hispanic Chamber, LNESC- KC, the Latino Arts Foundation, and so many more. They each do their part to uplift and elevate the needs and aspirations of our community. We have incredible leaders paving the way for new generations to achieve their wildest dreams. I’m simply doing my part in service to those who came before me and those yet to come.
The Evolución Conference 2021 takes place on October 23rd. Learn more about and register for the Evolución Conference on the LEC website