Admired leader well-known for increasing Latino parent engagement in education

LOS ANGELES, CA – MALDEF mourns the recent passing of Raul Borbón, visionary leader of Asociación de Padres de Pasadena Latinos por la Educación (APPLE), parent activist, and longtime advocate for improving equity and quality in the public education system.

Raul came to the United States over thirty years ago. He began his community involvement as a volunteer, teaching English and literacy classes in Pasadena Central Park, before becoming a community organizer working with Latinos in Northwest Pasadena. He was a member of the Instituto de Educación Popular en el Sur de California (IDEPSCA), where he participated in projects supporting day laborers in the Los Angeles and Pasadena areas and coordinated IDEPSCA’s family literacy project in East LA. He is well-known for being the visionary behind the IDEPSCA parent movement to influence school reform, APPLE.

Raul worked closely with MALDEF on its Parent School Partnership Program for seven years. He and his wife, Susana Zamorano, developed a strategy to ensure that hundreds of Latino parents were trained on the Parent School Partnership Program in Pasadena and were themselves staunch advocates for parent engagement. Many of those parents became leaders in their communities, serving on local school advisory and decision-making committees and successfully advocating on behalf of English learners.

While Raul's work was focused in Pasadena and the Pico Union area, he also influenced the field of parent engagement and social justice at large by sharing his strategies and best practices with others through his active participation in MALDEF's National Parent Alumni Network and the Parent Organization Network in Los Angeles. MALDEF honored Raul and Susana jointly at the 2007 Los Angeles Awards Gala with the MALDEF Parent Activists Leadership Award.

MALDEF's Vice President of Community Education, Gina Montoya, said:

"Raul was a teacher at heart. His devotion to providing people with needed educational programs and services, and his use of popular education to build capacity in the grassroots community that we serve, is, and always will be, an inspiration. His work with MALDEF's Parent School Partnership and Domestic Violence Prevention programs led to more positive outcomes, as did his guidance and mentorship to MALDEF's community education staff. We have lost an education rights champion and we are deeply saddened by his loss."

Raul also co-developed and piloted, Aprendamos, to increase academic achievement for students in kindergarten through third grade; and led the Central American Resource Center’s (CARECEN) parent and youth programs, where he developed a variety of programs critical to the overall success of Latinos.

His latest project, El Centro de Educación del Pueblo (CEP), trained leaders to become practitioners of popular education and honored the contributions of immigrant women in social movements. The mission of CEP is to create social, cultural, and educational change in the Latino community, particularly among immigrants, utilizing programs rooted in social justice that believe in an equitable multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society.

Two memorial services will be held in honor of Raul Borbón:

Friday, December 2, 2011
Villa-Parke Community Center
363 E. Villa Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
6-8PM in the Auditorium

Friday, December 9, 2011
2845 W. 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005
4:30 PM in Romero Hall, 2nd Floor

Donations for the family or his last project El Centro de Educación del Pueblo (CEP) should go to CEP's fiscal sponsor: The Flintridge Center, 236 W. Mountain St., Suite 106, Pasadena, CA 91103.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund