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Charlie Cervantes stands at Podium at Tipping Point Breakfast

Fathers Group Promotes Strong Start for Early Childhood Development

PUBLISHED: Jan 19, 2024

“Preschool — that’s where it starts. Right? That’s where our next astronauts, mayors, judges, pilots all start.”

Charlie Cervantes is a Fatherhood Engagement Specialist at Izzi Early Childhood, a Tipping Point grantee that provides comprehensive child development and support services to children (ages 0-5) and their families across San Mateo County

Charlie’s passion for early education began back when he was an Izzi dad. After his children’s teacher encouraged him to get involved in the classroom, he never looked back. 

“I saw early childhood as the foundation for everything.”

He started by volunteering at Izzi, and then later enrolled in college courses to get certified to work in the classroom. “I went from a teacher’s aide, to a teacher, then lead teacher.” Now, Charlie has been an educator with Izzi for over twenty years. 

As a family engagement specialist, Charlie sees how important it is for each member of the family to be part of building a strong foundation for their child. Yet, fathers and male figures often didn’t have a space to build community with each other. 

“I had an idea to start a group just for dads. A place to talk about the victories and challenges of raising a family.” 

The Father’s Cafe is just one opportunity for family members to get involved at Izzi. Teachers foster community by inviting caregivers to visit or volunteer in the classroom, attend parent workshops, and serve on Izzi’s parent advisory council.  

“If you feel welcomed and empowered,” Cervantes said, “I believe that you feel more comfortable, that you’re not alone in the community, and that you have something to give.” The first Father’s Café in East Palo Alto was such a success, Izzi expanded the program to sites all across the county. Charlie continues to see how the effects of the Father’s Cafe ripples out to strengthen families and the entire Izzi community. 

“That’s what this work is all about. To see the parents find their energy and enthusiasm. Helping them find a place in the community to share their talents. Heal old wounds. Start fresh for their kids.”

Charlie spoke at Tipping Point’s annual Breakfast on December 8, 2023 to honor Izzi Early Education’s work in the community. The Tipping Point Breakfast is an opportunity for our grantee community to share their exemplary work that builds a better Bay Area for us all. We are honored to share Linh and Brianna’s stories and highlight Opportunity Junction’s success helping families earn enough to live and thrive here. Learn more about Tipping Point’s impact, and view additional stories highlighted at the Breakfast, including from grantees and Improve Your Tomorrow and Opportunity Junction.

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