Richard Garcia is a 7th generation Chicano from El Valle de San Luis in southern Colorado. He was born and raised in Monte Vista, where he attended Elementary and Junior High School. Due to a devastating illness that took his mother away, Richard’s family had to move to Denver and his plans were to continue his education. However, by the time Richard was 17; he decided to join the US Navy instead, and spent four years serving his country. After the US Navy discharged him, Richard started a family Denver. In 1970, Richard was given the great opportunity to enroll at the University of Colorado and without thinking it twice, he got his GED; four years later, Richard graduated with a degree in Political Science. In 1978 he went on to receive his Master in Education, and his Administrator License, all from the University of Colorado.

While attending CU during the 70’s, Richard and his wife Anna enrolled their four children in the Boulder Valley Schools and that was his beginning of a long journey and significant passion for Parent Involvement. He began researching how effective Parent Involvement benefitted the children and became a strong advocate for Parent Involvement in the schools. His research led him to believe that the more the parent is involved, the higher aspirations that child will have in completing his/her education. Richard’s involvement in his children’s public education while helping other parents motivated him to create the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition (CSPC) in 1980 and like all great ideas; this one also started in the basement of his home in Lafayette where Richard lived with his second wife Teresa and their two daughters.

  • The CSPC evolved to provide assistance to all parents but still attained a special focus towards the Latino parent. Richard created a number of programs and an annual statewide conference that provide a complete educational experience to Latino families. He knew that Latino parents didn’t have a place to contact for support and that there was not an organization that catered specifically to Latino parents.

  • For the last 32 years CSPC has, thanks to the support of several school districts and other founders, offered an Annual Parent Conference that has became the strong pillar for many families of many cultures and communities, such as, Native American, African American, Asian American, Latino and Anglo. Every year, the conference has addressed the crucial topics in education so all the parents in Colorado can make informed decisions pertinent to their children education. These conferences have brought many high ranking State officials and local professionals such as bilingual teachers, Health directors, Law enforcement, etc.

  • His first program was the Los Padres; he got the idea from his involvement with former Governor Romer’s Responsible Fatherhood Initiative in 1994. Through a grant from the Youth Crime Prevention Intervention (YCPI) in 1996, the Los Padres program was created. Fathers, particularly Latino fathers, are not engaged as much as the mothers when it comes to child growth and development, and participating in their child’s school or assisting the child in their school work. The Los Padres Program helps fathers in engaging more effectively in their child’s life and to have better communications with the entire family. Later on, the mothers, noticing firsthand how successful the Los Padres Program was, began to ask for a program for them and that is how the Las Madres Program began in 2000.

  • The second program was Parent Leadership Teams (PLT). This program was created in 2001 and it assisted parents in learning more about and how to navigate the school system for the benefit of the child. The program brings parents, teachers and administrators together to develop their schools Parent Involvement Plan. The teams are assembled and after some training develop a plan that benefits everyone, especially the children.

  • The third program was the 3 StepEarly Childhood Education Program for Parents. This program came as a result of Mr. Garcia’s attendance at a national training on Family Engagement for Head Start programs. The national Head Start bureau recreated an early childhood parent program called Exploring Parenting in the 21st Century and Richard became a national trainer for this curriculum. He brought this information to the CSPC and combined the section on Early Reading, Early Math and Early Writing with some parts of the EP 21st Century curriculum to make the 3 Step Program. The 3 Step Program has been implemented in schools throughout the state via the Parent Information Resource center grant from the US Department of Education.

  • The 4th and most active program within the CSPC is the Providers Advancing School Outcomes (PASO). This program is a high intensity training program that encompasses ECE from A to Z. It is a program that transforms the informal childcare provider or more popularly known as “Family, Friend and Neighbor” childcare providers (FFN) into Early Care and Education Teachers. Mr. Garcia created this program as a result of a grant received from the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation. Richard used his vast knowledge of ECE and the Child Development Associate program to create this curriculum. The curriculum is 120 hours with 240 hours of home visitation. It covers all of the 8 ECE subject areas required by the Council for Professional Recognition.

Mr. Garcia brings all of his experience and knowledge to leverage support for the families and their children. 

“if we expect to make a dent on the problems that plague the Latino community, we must start early”.Richard Garcia