I grew up in the Bronx, in New York, and was raised by a single mom who left her home in Puerto Rico when she was just seven. My mother struggled to make ends meet and for most of my childhood, we were on public assistance. I did my best to stay in school and stay away from trouble, which wasn’t easy. I was lucky, though. I got help from the dedicated and wonderful people at an afterschool program run by ASPIRA of New York, a Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Services organization.
The staff and volunteers at ASPIRA gave me the support and the encouragement I needed not only to graduate from high school, but to go on to college and succeed. While in high school, I interned at Time Warner. That internship turned out to be the launching pad for my career. After high school, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Hobart College and went on to work for Time Warner for ten years, before moving to Florida and taking a position with Bright House Networks in Orlando.
Today, I’m working to help ensure that other kids get the same kind of support and encouragement that I had. As the Director of Corporate Community Relations at Bright House Networks, I have helped Bright House Networks become involved with afterschool programs throughout the many communities it serves. I developed and launched the Bright Kids Network, which (I am proud to say) has invested more than $1 million in afterschool programs across the state of Florida. The Bright Kids Network provides afterschool scholarships for youth from low-income and single-parent families and helps to fund new programs.
In the last few years, Bright House Networks has also sponsored young people to come to Washington, DC and advocate with their representatives on Capitol Hill on behalf of the afterschool programs that do so much for all children. We have also sponsored local Afterschool Ambassadors in Orlando and Tampa who are focused on raising and maintaining visibility on this important issue.
I know first-hand the difference that afterschool programs can make in kids’ lives and it is my honor and pleasure to be able to support the kinds of programs that did so much for me.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Reinaldo Llano serves on the Board of Directors for the Afterschool Alliance.