Editor’s note: KCultivators is a lighthearted profile series to highlight people who are meaningfully enriching Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by WeWork Corrigan Station, a modern twist on Kansas City office space.
Proportionate cultural and ethnic representation can be life-altering for young people — especially in the classroom, said Edgar Palacios.
“I’m working hard to increase the number of Latin American education professionals in schools,” he said, discussing his new venture, Latinx Education Collaborative. “It’s a very small portion of a bigger pie, but it’s something that I can tackle, and there’s a lot of work to be done within that small piece of the pie.”
As an emerging startup in Kansas City, Palacios’ effort strives to attract prospective educators from Latinx backgrounds, then support and keep them to help bridge the gap between the Latinx students and teachers, said Palacios, founder and CEO.
“Folks from the Latinx community are coming into the education field at higher rates, but they’re also exiting at the highest rates,” he said. “So there’s some culture competency work that needs to be done.”
Roughly 25 percent of incoming kindergartners across the country identify as Latinx, the collaborative’s website reads. Only 8 percent of educators do.
“When students are represented by teachers and administrators, all students have better educational outcomes,” said the former executive director of Blue Hills Community Services. “I felt a calling for this, especially with some of the privileges that I have. How do I open the doors for others? And how do I help support incoming kindergarteners?”
An official launch celebration and holiday party for Latinx Education Collaborative is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Havana Room Event Space.
“The population is shifting. Latinx people are about to be the majority minority, so if we’re not represented in these spaces, what kinds of decisions are being made on behalf of our community?” Palacios said. “When you think about elections 18 years down the road, for example, or you think about what our community could look like 20 years from now, it starts today. So, if we’re not providing all students with the best educational opportunities and focusing on equity and social justice, then we’re not giving them a fighting chance.”
Startland News sat down with Palacios to learn more about the passions and idiosyncrasies that drive him. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by WeWork Corrigan Station, which provides entrepreneurs and businesspeople a community and a workspace.
Hometown: Miami Beach, Florida
A historical figure you’d like to have coffee with and why? George Washington, only because I want to understand why he went ahead and decided to fight the British. I think it was kind of a ballsy move. What was the real reason behind it?
Weirdest thing you’ve eaten? Rocky Mountain oysters.
What is the animal you’d like to be in your next life? A jaguar, because I think they are really fierce and they run fast.
You’re up to bat for the Royals, what’s your walk-up song? “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj Beyonce.
What is KC’s biggest area for improvement? Latinx representation in positions of power.
What is your favorite food joint in KC? Cane and Wine Bar.
What is some new technology that you’re most excited about? I just had a demo on virtual reality. I think there are so many possibilities.
What would you do if you were not in your line of work? I think I would become a travel agent. I love to travel, and to help people experience the world would be pretty cool.
What do you hope to be remembered for? That I did the best I could to help my community. I think ultimately it’s about the people who we serve. Make sure you use your privileges to help others.
What’s your favorite travel locale? Deluth, Minnesota. It’s eight hours away from KC and absolutely gorgeous; very picturesque town that makes you appreciate nature.
What’s your mantra/motto? Jay Z’s quote: “I’m a business kind of man, not a businessman.”
Hidden talent or ability I used to sing opera.
What keeps you up at night? Emails. I am terrible at responding to emails.