June 16, 2021 by HCDE-Texas
Afterschool activities became the change agent for a timid, young boy named Adrian Izaguirre, who grew up in a low socioeconomic neighborhood in southeast Houston.
The 27-year-old is a program coordinator for City Connections at the Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids). Izaguirre helps facilitate grants in 11 Houston City Council districts to nonprofits that provide afterschool programs for at-risk, urban youth.
A jovial Izaguirre wears a natural smile as he works with people from all walks of life. He navigates complicated contracts with ease. He uses his people skills to network with elected officials and a bounty of nonprofit afterschool service providers.
No one today would call Izaguirre reluctant or bashful but rather fluid, lively and resourceful.
“I was a shy kid, but when I reached high school, I grew out of it a bit,” he said. “I was asked to share my afterschool experiences, and it helped me create a voice for myself which I carried on from high school to college to my current career.”
Still, it is afterschool which has been the constant in his life since second grade as he stayed after for tutorials. In middle school, he was diagnosed with adolescent type 1 diabetes. Through afterschool, he learned healthy eating habits and found sports.
By high school, he was enlisted as a CASE Ambassador through a high school afterschool program, which built leadership skills at Chavez High School in Houston ISD.
When CASE for Kids Director Lisa Thompson-Caruthers met Izaguirre, he was the featured youth speaker at a national conference, the Afterschool Alliance Breakfast of Champions in Washington, D.C.
“He was a confident young man who was interested in serving as an advocate for afterschool and sharing his experiences while honing his voice and making a difference in the world,” she recalled.
Izaguirre earned a scholarship to the University of North Texas in Denton and majored in radio/TV. He remained attached to afterschool endeavors and was named an innovative afterschool mover and shaker in the “30 Under 30” awards through the National Afterschool Association.
Once he graduated, he was recruited for the CASE for Kids City Connections job.
“He is civic-minded and great for City Connections,” Thompson-Caruthers said. “He makes sure both sides are being supported, from the elected city officials to supporting the nonprofit clients receiving the funds.”
As the challenges of the pandemic ensued, Izaguirre helped afterschool service providers transform their in-person programs into virtual offerings and communicated the opportunities throughout the council districts.
Manager Mary Glover recalls how Izaguirre helped approximately 70 service providers post their links and lessons online so that children and their families could get the resources they needed.
“This provided immediate online learning to the thousands of children registered in the City Connections programs,” she said.
A few months shy of his fifth anniversary with HCDE and CASE for Kids, Izaguirre is taking on a new challenge as he accepts a job at NALEO Education Fund. NALEO provides national leadership on key issues that affect Latino participation in the political process, including immigration and naturalization, voting rights, election reform, the Census, and the appointment of qualified Latinos to top executive and judicial positions. From helping his constituents with issues ranging from voting rights to naturalization to health issues, Izaguirre knows his experience with CASE for Kids and afterschool has served him well.
“I learned how to create great relationships with community and local government, which is not always an easy task,” he said. “You have to knock on doors and make them your friends.”
What he will miss most about his job at CASE for Kids are the kids. From theater performances to rocket launches to homework tutorials, the kids made it worthwhile, he insists.
“I believe a lot in afterschool because it helps kids expand their horizons,” he said. “I lived it. I know it works because it worked for my classmates and me.”
5 things you might not know about CASE for Kids employee Adrian Izaguirre:
- Proud to be the “dad dog” to six chihuahua-mix breeds.
- Since 2017, the huge Astros fan has attended all the post-season games, including the World Series.
- He has been dating Iris Lopez for five years (and she loves to accompany Adrian and his dad Jose to the games).
- Serves on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Alumni Committee to recruit rodeo scholarship recipients as future volunteers.
- Currently volunteers as promotions coordinator for the Go Tejano Rodeo Committee.