Founded in 2011, the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation is paving the way for a future where Hispanic/Latino Americans nationwide not only embrace higher education but thrive in its pursuit. Committed to championing the advantages of college education, the Foundation is actively endorsing the significance of achieving and completing higher education for Latino youth.
In its forward-looking mission, the Cisneros Foundation seeks to bridge the existing disparities in college attainment by establishing a robust network, providing essential resources, and building a supportive ecosystem that empowers and guides Latino students toward higher education. Aiming for a future where each supported student finds their path to a college or university that aligns with their needs, the Cisneros Foundation is dedicated to ensuring a comprehensive support system, including wrap-around services. These services not only facilitate a seamless transition into higher education, but also create an environment where students feel acknowledged, anticipated, and supported.
Emphasizing scholarships, policy advocacy, and improved access, the Foundation goes beyond conventional support by offering mentorship, experiences, and opportunities with accomplished Hispanic/Latino professionals who share similar backgrounds and life experiences. This strategic approach enables the students to envision themselves in similar roles, fostering a sense of belonging and possibility.
In shaping a culture where college is not just a distant possibility but a tangible expectation backed by support mechanisms, the Cisneros Foundation is actively cultivating a transformative legacy of empowerment, education, and achievement for generations of Latino students to come. The Foundation’s vision is one where higher education becomes a cornerstone for unlocking potential and realizing dreams, contributing to a brighter and more inclusive future for the community it serves.
President, The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation
Meet Jacki Cisneros, the President of the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation. Jacki is dedicated to empowering Hispanic American youth and their families with a deeper understanding of the numerous advantages of pursuing higher education. With an unwavering dedication and a passionate commitment, Jacki spearheads the Foundation’s efforts to cultivate a vibrant and supportive community for Hispanic/Latino students in higher education.
From Jacki’s perspective, the positive impacts of higher education reach beyond individuals and play a pivotal role in strengthening entire communities. She actively collaborates with community stakeholders to foster and promote support for Hispanic education initiatives.
Recognizing the unique challenges faced by first-generation, college-bound Latino students, the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation advocates for effective education policies and raises awareness for the specific circumstances these students encounter. The foundation uplifts and supports inclusive, effective, and sustainable educational environments for Latino students.
Jacki believes that the journey toward college should begin as early as kindergarten. She is passionate about partnering with the community to organize kindergarten book giveaways and promote early literacy skills in young children. To date, the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation has provided more than 5,000 books to kindergartners in Southern California, nurturing a love for reading and inspiring children to dream big.
Prior to her foundation work, Jacki enjoyed a successful 18-year career in broadcast journalism, covering news and entertainment in Los Angeles. She is a two-time Emmy award winner and worked as an assignment editor at several Los Angeles news stations.
Jacki grew up in both Pico Rivera and Yorba Linda, California. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.
Veteran and Education Advocate, The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation
Gilbert Cisneros serves as the Veterans and Education Advocate for the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation and is passionately committed to improving the level of Hispanic education in the United States.
Gilbert and his wife, Jacki, have devoted their lives to philanthropy, having made their first donations to their alma maters, the George Washington University and the University of Southern California, to endow scholarships for Hispanic students. This was followed by endowing a scholarship with the Navy Supply Corps Foundation. They soon partnered with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the City of Pico Rivera, California to create Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera, with the goal of putting a college degree in every Hispanic household in the city. Their philanthropic journey eventually led them to form The Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation in 2011, funding it with an initial $20 million and expanding their programs across the San Gabriel Valley.
Most recently, Gilbert served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness for the U.S. Department of Defense. As Under Secretary, he was a senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense, managing recruitment, military readiness, as well as the education and health benefit programs within the Department of Defense. This included the 160 schools that the Department operates across 11 foreign countries, seven states, and two territories. During his tenure, Gilbert oversaw the expansion of Universal Pre-Kindergarten for all military families.
Prior to his appointment with the Department of Defense, Gilbert was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing California’s 39th congressional district from 2019 to 2021.
Gilbert proudly served as a Supply Officer in the U.S. Navy, completing both a Mediterranean and a Western Pacific Deployment. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. He received a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship.
Gilbert is a staunch educational advocate having graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the George Washington University. He has received his MBA from Regis University and M.A. in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.