February 2015 Alumni Spotlight
February’s Alumni Spotlight with John-Moreno Escobar, MPA ’14
John Moreno-Escobar is a successful social entrepreneur, community leader and executive innovator – he’s also a proud School of Public Affairs alum. His deepest passion is education equality and access to higher education for all. As a native Colombian, he founded the Colombian Education Fund (ColEF) and initiative to help Colombian students around the world access financial resources to pay for their studies. He also founded a not-for-profit called LYHEP (Latino Youth for Higher Education Program) to help newcomer Latino students and families in New York City understand the education system. We speak to him about the Colombian Education Fund, his role leading a new CUNY initiative, and his education at the School of Public Affairs.
Where did the idea for the Colombian Education Fund come from? What direction is it going in?
The idea of creating an education fund for Colombians was in my mind for many years; the Colombian diaspora is one of the most active in NYC but we have been lacking of organizations that can help the community to improve their quality of life. I have always believed that giving information and educating people about their options is the best key to unlock their true potential. In 2013 I gathered with a group of Colombian students, entrepreneurs, educators and community leaders to launch the first ever Colombian education fund to provide students of Colombian origin not just scholarships, but support as well. For example, mentors, an annual leadership conference, internships, and more. We are in our third year, and so far we have granted five scholarships (with a record of 140 applications) to incoming college students and sophomore college students. We also hosted our first “Liderazgo Summit” conference in the summer of 2014 with more than 20 students from more than seven Latino American countries and with highly recognized speakers. We are looking to provide more scholarships in the next years and help more students and their families to pursue the real American dream: access to affordable and quality education!
What is the purpose of the new role of Student Life Manager for Urban Initiatives at CUNY and what do its duties consist of?
My current position at the central office consists of supporting students of diverse backgrounds to get involved and succeed in college. We want to support our undocumented students and our growing Latino population, and empower students via technology tools to participate in the many educational and academic programs that the university has. At this point, I oversee the CREAR Futuros peer mentoring program,participateat the CUNY-Latino Opportunity Network, the DREAMERS Advisory Council and support the CUNY-TheDREAM.US scholarship program.
How has your education at Baruch College served your current roles?
CUNY has been critical for my success as an immigrant – especially the School of Public Affairs and Baruch College. I got involved in college activities like the Student Senate, the Baruch College Soccer Team and student clubs. In my case, the exposure to professors that have been in politics, not-for-profit organizations, government, and advocacy work really help me to understand the realities of all these areas. The biggest value of all my time at Baruch was the fact that 90% if not 100% of my professors were professionals that were exposed directly to what they were teaching. For example, former Gov.Cuomo, former NYC Commissioners and former executives.