Seeing young people not get their fair shake day after day can have a lasting impact on someone.
That was certainly the case with Richard Farias, who began his career as an educational liaison in the Houston, Texas juvenile justice system and now most recently, founded the Houston-based nonprofit American Latino Center for Research, Education & Justice.
“I became much more empathetic,” Richard told Lindsay Peyton of the Houston Chronicle. “I saw my job as trying to help kids, instead of trying to catch them and lock them up. I have a lot more insights on how to help them with the day-to-day.”
Moving on from the justice system, he started one of the first charter schools in Texas in an effort to address the problems he saw. Later on, Richard became the executive director of an alternative high school that gave dropouts a second chance.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker awarded Richard a lifetime achievement award in 2011, but as the launch of his new nonprofit demonstrates, he’s not done helping people yet.
Now with the help of his wife Rita, Richard is seeking to transform Houston neighborhood by neighborhood to become a city that boosts its low-income Latino youth to success. While the Latino population in northwest Houston is growing, Richard told Peyton, “there’s minimal support services for Latinos and their children here.”
Using their knowledge and experience, the couple has already started helping families at a mobile home park in the area. Describing it, Rita said, “You wouldn’t even know it’s there, and the living conditions are terrible.” As they work to transform the neighborhood, they keep the goal of their nonprofit in mind: To enrich the lives of low-income communities through education, arts, justice, and economic opportunity.
While the Fariases are zeroing in on one neighborhood, their nonprofit is also focusing on the big picture — by organizing the Latino Education Summit at Rice University in August. “It will hopefully serve as a catalyst to affect changes at the state level,” Richard told Peyton.