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About Us

THE EL MONTE PROMISE FOUNDATION is a non-profit organization that unites the community’s efforts to create a seamless cradle-to-college pathway in the greater El Monte region. This locally-run effort unites parents, students, and community leaders from school districts, colleges, local governments, businesses, non-profits, and private foundations to actively coordinate systems and mobilize resources for the educational benefit of local students.

These efforts ensure that the community works together as a whole to increase the expectation that all students can attend and succeed in college.


Board Officers

Community Member

Mr. Seymour is a retired teacher and administrator of the El Monte City School District for 43 years, where he served as Superintendent for the last 25 years. He has also taught for the last 20 years at Cal Poly Pomona in the Administrative Masters Program. He is active both in the El Monte community and at Boys Republic in Chino Hills, where he has served on the Board for over 25 years. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, he attended local schools and graduated from the University of Southern California.

Parent and Community Advocate

Mr. Correa is a long-time parent advocate and is passionate about making the community better for all children. He is a founding member of the El Monte Promise Foundation and was a part of the El Monte Community Building Initiative. He helped to found Community Leaders for a Better El Monte and Soccer for Success. He is the owner of M-Co Electric.

El Monte City Councilmember

Mr. Velasco is the Board Vice President of El Monte Promise Foundation and City Council Member for City of El Monte. As a prominent actor, producer, and publicist, he is considered the “Information Voice” of Hollywood and Hispanics and is sought after as a speaker in the United States, Mexico, and Latin America. He is a successful actor who appears in both American and Mexican television and films. Mr. Velasco is involved with many local, national, and international non-profit organizations. Mr. Velasco was raised in the city of Los Angeles and is a native of Jalisco, Mexico.

Director of Parks and Recreation, Los Angeles County
Ms. Garcia is a founding member of the El Monte Promise Foundation and an ardent believer in building better communities. Ms. Garcia currently serves as the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for Los Angeles County. She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in that position since the founding of the department in 1944. 

She works to achieve her vision through her active participation in numerous civic and professional organizations. She serves on the Board of the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO), Baldwin Hills Conservancy, Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority (BHRCA) and the El Monte Promise Foundation. She served as a member of the Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees, the Chair of El Monte City Planning Commission and on the Board of the Watershed Conservation Authority (WCA), the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles River and Mountains Conservancy (RMC), the California Community Foundation’s Community Building Initiative, and on the Board of New Economics for Women.

Ms. Garcia was honored as the 49th Assembly District Latina of the Year for Community Involvement. She attended Citrus Community College, transferred and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. in Urban Planning. Ms. Garcia enjoys traveling, attending Dodger games and spending time with her growing family. Ms. Garcia is a life-long resident of the beautiful community of El Monte.

Mr. Marquez is a member and a former president of the El Monte Promise Foundation. Formerly the Board Treasurer and Co-Chair of the El Monte Coalition of Latino Professionals. He serves as liaison of the El Monte Coalition of Latino Professionals.

He is currently the Director of Student Services for the El Monte City School District, a position he has held for the past ten years. Previously Mr. Marquez worked as both teacher and administrator in the El Monte/South El Monte community.


Educational Advisor

Ms. Berg worked for many years in conjunction with the El Monte Promise Foundation from its infancy and formally joined the Board of Directors four years ago. She has been a longtime educator and advocate for higher education in the Greater El Monte Community since 1987. Ms. Berg holds a B.A. in Spanish Translation, a M.A. in School Counseling and a M.Ed. in School Leadership. She has lived abroad and attended school in both Argentina and Wales and has travelled throughout South America and Europe. Ms. Berg has deep ties to many students and families in the Greater El Monte area spanning her 34 years in education as a College and Career Counselor and advocate for all students to have the opportunity to attend college and succeed in their personal educational endeavors. She has served on the Cal-SOAP Board in the Los Angeles region for 25 years to support underprivileged youth to pursue their higher education goals. Ms. Berg is a staunch believer that it is important to be a community volunteer and “give back” to others. She has been a longtime volunteer with the Boy Scout and Girl Scout Programs with her own children in addition to being an active participant in civic activities.

Community Member

Ms. Gutierrez was born in Concordia, Sinaloa, Mexico and has lived in the City of El Monte for more than 30 years. Her education includes receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the Centro Universitario de Mazatlan. Ms.Gutierrez has worked as a volunteer with the Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund (MALDEF) to advocate for and promote education in our communities. Ms. Gutierrez, in cooperation with other members of her community, founded the Jeff Seymour Family Center in El Monte. She has been recognized by the Los Angeles County Bilingual Directors’ Association in 2011, and by the Golden Apple Awards in 2012 for her commitment as a parent to improve educational services in the El Monte School District. Ms. Gutierrez was a recipient of the award “Unsung Heroine, Woman of the Year 2014” by California State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, for her community work in the City of El Monte. Ms. Gutierrez has served on the El Monte Promise Foundation Board since 2014. Ms. Gutierrez is an avid reader and loves to travel.

Community Member

Mr. Lopez-Mena is the Director of Special Education for the El Monte City School District.

Community Member

Tracy Moronatty is a parent advocate for her son and all the children of her community. Her experience directly involves high need communities within the El Monte and South El Monte region. She volunteers with the First 5 LA Community Partnership, and with the Parents as Leaders Support Group (PALS). She received the 2013 Women of Achievement award for her volunteer work with the El Monte Alliance to Keep Youth Tobacco Free. Ms. Moronatty attended Rio Hondo Community College and studied Chicano Studies. She is a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona with a BS in Communications, PR option. She is currently working as a Research Analyst at Special Service for Groups Research and Evaluation.

Dr. Ocegueda is the Dean of Academic Affairs for Pasadena City College.

Parent Advocate

Ms. Perez has been active member of the El Monte and South El Monte communities for more than 20 years with different organizations that are working with different projects to improve the lives of children and their families. She believes working together in our communities will make a difference in the lives of our children. Ms. Perez hopes that her work with the El Monte Promise Foundation leads to all children having the opportunity to go to college for better opportunities in their lives.

Community Member

Ms. Pinedo is the Director of Instruction and Assessment for the El Monte City School District.

El Monte / South El Monte Chamber Of Commerce 

Mr. Rausch is the Executive Director of the El Monte/South El Monte Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown El Monte Business Association. His focus is to reach out to the business community and provide the tools necessary to assist in their success. Before joining the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown El Monte Business Association in 2011, Mr. Rausch was owner and operator of Edward’s Steak House in El Monte and Chairman of the Board of the California Restaurant Association in 2004. Mr. Rausch earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Southern California.

Community Member
Mr. Vu is an administrator for the El Monte Union High School District and he is on a mission to save the world.

advisory board

Ms. Maldonado French is the Superintendent of the Mountain View School District. She has 25 plus years of experience in public education. Prior to taking the lead in Mountain View, Ms. Maldonado French spent six years with the Los Nietos School District in Whittier, serving two years as Director of Instructional Services, Assessment and Special Projects and the last four years as Superintendent. Her expertise is in addressing the needs of English Learners, providing specialized training for principals and teachers, and maintaining effective and positive employer-employee relationships through consensus building and collaboration.

Dr. Maribel Garcia is a product of El Monte City Schools having attended Columbia School and graduated from El Monte High School. Armed with a passion for educating and empowering El Monte youth, Dr. Garcia embarked on her teaching career in 1998 at the very school she attended – Columbia School. Aiming to effect greater change on behalf of students, Dr. Garcia served as Assistant Principal of Rio Hondo School, and later, Columbia School. In 2008 she became principal at Columbia where she implemented systems that drastically improved the school’s standing. In 2013 she was appointed as Superintendent. Dr. Garcia attended UCLA and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership. She is an active member of the El Monte community, serving on boards and supports organizations that promote quality of life, access to resources, and equitable opportunities for El Monte students. Dr. Garcia enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her family and friends.

Ms. Morales is an ardent believer in building well-planned, sustainable communities – communities that work in synergy to create safe and thriving communities focused on families and children.  To meet that effort, since November 2018, Ms. Morales serves her community, now as a Councilwoman and currently Mayor Pro-TEM for the City of El Monte, and previously as a planning commissioner.  During this tenure, she has been able to move policy and ordinances – focused protect families and children related to supporting housing, infrastructure, and education collaborations among local stakeholders.


Outside of El Monte, Ms. Morales is full-time research-practitioner focused on higher education diversity, equity and inclusion for the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education.  Currently, she is finalizing her Doctoral degree from USC, enjoys mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, marathon running, and spending time at the gym.  Ms. Morales is married to Dr. Jorge Morales, a recent USC EdD graduate and long-term high-school administrator, and mother to video-gaming aficionado, Aarón Morales.

A longtime community resident, Dr. Zuniga attended elementary school in the Mountain View School District before his student days at El Monte High School.  Dr. Zuniga began his career in education as a teacher and coach at El Monte High School.   He then assumed Assistant Principal positions at South El Monte High School and Arroyo High School, and in 2007 was promoted to Principal at South El Monte High School.  In 2012, he was named Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. In 2016, he was named Interim Superintendent until his appointment as Superintendent.

Dr. Zuniga resides in Arcadia, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and his Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Azusa Pacific University.  He recently completed his Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Zuniga is very involved in the local community.  He previously served on the Board of the El Monte City School District, is an active member of the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association, and is affiliated with several professional organizations, including the Association of California School Administrators. 


Our work is not possible without the generous contributions from our supporters and funders. These individuals, organizations, foundations, and businesses help keep our work going.

OUR team

Jennifer Cobian is the Executive Director for the El Monte Promise Foundation. She is a dedicated advocate for education and equity for all children and families. Jennifer also serves as a member of the El Monte City School District Governing Board and is in her third year as President of the Board. Under her leadership, the El Monte City School District has increased opportunities and outcomes for students. In 2020, five EMCSD schools were honored with California Distinguished School Awards, the highest educational honor in the State. Jennifer received her BA from UC Santa Cruz, MA from the University of Chicago, and teaching credential from Cal State Los Angeles. She has worked as a Speechwriter for the Governor of California in Sacramento and as a teacher in the El Monte City School District. She is also passionate about giving back to the community. Jennifer is a member of the El Monte Women’s Club, a soccer coach for AYSO, and a troop leader for an El Monte Girl Scout Troop. She also volunteers with Boy Scouts of America, and has served on various committees for the El Monte Union High School District.

Jennifer is a proud mother of four and lives in El Monte with her husband and children.

Francisco Arroyo serves as the El Monte Promise Foundation’s Scholars Savings Program Coordinator. He is tasked with managing the operations of the Scholars Savings Program in collaboration with Opportunity to Assets. Francisco greatly enjoys the work of promoting children’s savings accounts because he believes encouraging families to plan and save has not only a significant impact on a child’s motivation to pursue higher education, but it introduces families to opportunities to learn about financial literacy. Francisco highly values work centered around financial literacy because through first-hand experience as a first-generation college student he understands the financial commitment needed to pursue a higher education with limited financial resources. The work of the El Monte Promise Foundation is doubly as important to Francisco because he grew up in the City of El Monte, attended the local elementary schools, and graduated from El Monte Union High School District. Francisco is a college graduate currently studying Information Technology and Computer Systems at Rio Hondo College for his own personal interests and development. Francisco has earned an A.S. in Computer Information Technology with a focus in Computer Systems from Rio Hondo College, as well as a B.A. in Psychology with a focus on Biological Sciences from University of California Davis

Samantha Ruiz is the Community Outreach Coordinator for El Monte Promise Foundation where she increases local, regional, and national connections for the Foundation’s collective initiatives. Sam is a proud first-generation Latina college graduate representing the city of Pico Rivera and is currently pursuing her Master in Public Health degree at California State University, Long Beach; she holds a B.A. in Human Biology with a focus in Cross-Cultural Health and Healing from Pitzer College. Although prepared to enter a career in the allied health field, Sam’s experience at an academically taxing four-year institution that lacked comprehensive support for first-generation students sparked her active engagement in college-access work. She has 5+ years’ experience in work that addresses the inequities reflective of the sociopolitical determinants of health, particularly access to quality education. On her own time, Sam enjoys outside recreation, concocting herbal medicine, practicing yoga and cooking new foods.

Alejandro Araujo has joined El Monte Promise Foundation as a Scholar Savings Assistant to continue his passion in connecting deserving families to resources that will promote a college-thriving environment in the home. Alejandro is the youngest of 10 siblings whose family grew up in the East Los Angeles/Monterey Park communities. He is the first in his family and among his childhood friends to graduate from a 4-year university. With his community as a support system, Alejandro navigated a collegiate system that was virtually unknown to him. This experience led him to be invested in guiding youth and families to  have access to institutions of higher learning. Alejandro graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Latin American/Latino Studies and an emphasis on Education. He has over 7 years’ experience in college-access work and has worked for an organization which applied the collective impact model of community transformation in their work, a framework that the Foundation is a product of. In his freetime, you may see Alejandro performing with his Latin band in a local festival, fulfilling his foodie desires at local restaurants and dodging punches and kicks in his Muay Thai class.

Carmin Hermosillo works as a Scholar Savings Program Assistant where she promotes the importance of having families and students start young in forming the habit of saving, specifically using the 529 plans catered for college expenses. Although her formal education is in Communications/Public Relations from University of La Verne, her main focus has been working in educating and promoting the importance of a solid personal finance foundation. Carmin believes that with the right financial fundamentals students and families will have an easier time navigating through college and life events. She brings her experience as a Financial Coach and working experience in Banking and Investments to the El Monte community in hopes that her contribution can lead to asset creation for first-generation families with long lasting financial empowerment.

Athena Bowery is the AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow with the El Monte Promise Foundation. She grew up in Abu Dhabi from KG onwards because her father was an English as a Second Language teacher. Her high school years were spent in an over-capacity school in Texas where she felt a reverse culture shock as a white-passing Taiwanese-American in a majority white and self-racially segregated social environment, before spending her final year at a school in Oklahoma with her cohort of 31 fellow students with no music program. She then went on to experience being a Freshman at the University of Iowa before dropping out and working full-time in Northern and later in Southern California. She later earned her Associates of Arts – Transfer degree in Sociology from Fullerton College in 2016 before transferring to UCLA to receive her B.A. in Anthropology & Sociology in 2018. She will be concluding her second VISTA year of service with the Foundation in February 2021.

As an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer, Ayabami M. Bass partners with El Monte School District and community liaisons to develop financial literacy materials and workshops for preschool through 12th grade students. Also, she aids with recruiting student board members and developing wellness components for the Roadmap to College.

Prior to this role, she worked as a case manager serving the Los Angeles homeless population helping them secure permanent housing. Also, Ayabami has past experience with young adults with autism and behavioral health disparities. She has volunteered as youth mentor during undergrad and as a Youth Mentor Director for Los Angeles High School of the Arts.

Ayabami received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication with a focus in Intergraded Marketing and minor in Business from Tennessee State University. In addition, she holds a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University. Ayabami is a first-generation college student and is honored to have the chance to help educate future first-generation college students and their parents about financial literacy and the pathway to college.




EMPF adopts a three-year strategic plan with a focus on helping the community respond to and recover from the COVID 19 crisis while providing foundational support for the cradle-to-college pathway.

EMPF kicks off the Roadmap to College, a grade-based guide for students and families to prepare for college from PreK through 8th grade.


EMPF is one of nine programs in the state awarded the Every Kid Counts Grant from the State of California to support the work of the Scholar Savings Program.


The Scholar Savings Program is expanded to cover all three school districts and over 30 schools.

The El Monte Promise Foundation hosts the 1st Annual College and Career Conference with our partners.
EMPF partners with Abriendo Puertas to provide classes that support parents as a child’s first teacher, as agents of change, and as key players in creating positive outcomes for children.


EMPF commissions teachers to develop and pilot financial literacy curriculum for elementary students.

Building on the El Monte Pledge Compact, Rio Hondo College becomes the first Community College in LA County to offer 2-year free tuition.


EMPF produces its first Educational Scorecard, a document that highlights the progress of the Foundation in improving educational outcomes for El Monte students.


The United States White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics formally recognizes El Monte Promise Foundation as a Bright Spot for the foundation’s commitment to improving educational outcomes for students in the region.

Working hand in hand with parents and schools, El Monte Promise Foundation officially launches the Scholars Savings Program (SSP). SSP offers families and parents the opportunity to open a college savings account for their children, a resource that provides an accessible means to families who otherwise would not have a way of saving for their children’s college education.

El Monte Promise Foundation completes 2-part series of Parent Financial Literacy workshops and holds the first Parent Advisory Committee retreat.

El Monte Promise Foundation receives a grant from Citibank to promote financial education. The Foundation is also awarded a second AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow



El Monte Promise Foundation establishes Parent Advisory Council, and begins the launch of the Scholars Savings Program. The foundation also initiates the EMPF internship program, and convenes an elected officials briefing. 

El Monte Promise Foundation Board of Directors adopts the foundation’s five-year strategic plan and develops a shared Mission and Vision statements, a 1st-8th grade Financial Literacy Curriculum, and a Fundraising Plan.



 El Monte Promise Foundation becomes a project of Community Partners, hosts the first funders briefing in collaboration with California Community Foundation, and convenes the first EMPF board retreat.

The California Community Foundation awards El Monte Promise Foundation with a planning grant to convene the El Monte City School District, Mountain View School District, the El Monte Union High School District, Rio Hondo College, parents, business community, City and community leaders to develop an educational scorecard and work program.

El Monte Promise Foundation develops the Scholars Savings Program and establishes organizational branding. 

El Monte Promise Foundation is awarded its first AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow.


The El Monte Promise Foundation is established. The CBI, comprised of community leaders, develops the El Monte Promise Foundation to take on the work as the backbone organization, responsible for convening and coordinating the work of community stakeholders.

El Monte Promise Foundation establishes a leadership structure and Board of Directors and Advisory boards and develops by-laws.


CCF publishes “A Pledge and A Promise: Building a Seamless Pathway to College for El Monte Students and Families”, outlining the community’s needs.


Rio Hondo College convenes UC Irvine and Cal State LA to form the El Monte Union Pledge. The Pledge is established to provide El Monte Union High School District graduates with a clear path from high school to community college and a four-year university.


The California Community Foundation holds a series of community listening sessions and re-focuses the CBI on a collective-impact education initiative to support the educational outcomes set forth by parents and the community.


The California Community Foundation establishes its El Monte Community Building Initiative (CBI) to invest $10 million over 10 years to increase educational standards, community resources, affordable housing, healthy lifestyles and opportunities in the El Monte region. The CBI commits to fund non-profit organizations in the community to support these goals, including Amigos de Los Rios, Community Leaders for a Better El Monte and Soccer for Success.