While I am hopeful that my story, “From the Barrio to the Board Room,” inspires millions to live the American Dream, I am humbled by your stories of inspiration that you have been sharing with me about your journey in life. Join me in creating a melting pot of empowerment to share with the world – Share your story here with the world and help millions of others see that with hard work and determination you can do anything!

Robert Renteria

Your Stories

Letter from a parent
September 2nd, 2009
Mr. Dan Bridges
West Aurora High School, Principal
Aurora, Illinois 60506

 Dear Mr. Bridges:

 As the mother of three children that have attended West Aurora High School, I must share with you how much each of my three kids have benefited from the many programs, clubs and activities that are carried out at West High. From Diversified (that my eldest attended), to projects such as The Invisible Children, where my daughter Cristina fine-tuned her communication and fundraising skills, West High seems to catch them all and give them something to hang on to while they travel the tumultuous teenage years. Choir has been a safe haven to my son; this is his niche where he feels most successful, no matter what else is happening in his life.

 In the midst of all these years that I have participated as a parent in the student life at West High School, I have become more and more aware of how important role models are for our youth. 

 With this in mind, I would like to mention that I recently attended a reception event of a youth advocacy leader and author, Mr. Robert Renteria, just featured also on National Public Radio (WBEZ). His book From The Barrio to the Board Room, a book now published in both English and Spanish, tells the personal story of how he turned his life around against all odds.  It’s the kind of story that not only would inspire a teenager but capture their attention. 

 Mr. Bridges, you never know where those “at-risk” teenagers are hiding. They come in all forms and all colors and ethnicities; from any family and any district, including ours. My own oldest daughter was one of them. Motivational and advocacy speakers are a great way to reach our youth at their critical high school years. 

 I think that Robert Renteria has a powerful message to deliver and a great story to tell. 

I enclose his brochure and business card that I received at the event, in case you have any interest. The business card has a punched hole because it was attached to a red rose. I kept the rose.

Cordially yours,
Stephanie Pringhipakis

West Aurora High School, Parent


In a world of instant celebrities, it’s refreshing to read a book about an everyday person, doing everyday work, achieving the American dream.  From the Barrio to the Board Room is one such book.  Robert Renteria’s life from the barrios of L.A. to ownership of his own business shows that life is not a one try shot at the top, but the hard work and dedication of one man towards his lifelong dream.

This book depicts the real world and the real struggles of a young Hispanic man facing life on life’s terms. Encountering a difficult family life, discrimination, substance abuse, gang activity, and everyday life difficulties, the book is real.  The book is real because it shows that life is not a fairy tale of instant glamour and fame, but one of perseverance and hard work towards a goal.

This book was refreshing to me and my students because it took out the formula of luck and situation for success, and re-formulated it based on hard work, dedication.  In a world where a lucky few people claim instant success, it’s important to know that hard work and dedication is a more realistic way to achieve the American dream.  As a teacher I found it important to show to my students that it’s not only the latest pop culture stars reaching the American dream, but the everyday person fighting and holding to his or her dreams.  As for my students, they were generally interested in the story and the everyday struggles depicted in the book, since these struggles seemed more relevant to their lives.

Thank you very much for writing such a wonderful book.

—Tim St.Clair, East Aurora High School, Pride Supervisor

After reading From the Barrio to the Board Room last May, Mary quit her job in July and started her own private practice. “I was afraid but I read his book and it inspired me, and I thought, ‘I can do this,’ and then I started to put my plan into action. The book is what inspired me to try. My practice is going great. It’s a lot of hard work and I love it. It’s because of him that I quit my job – his book helped motivate me to pursue my dreams.”

— Mary McMillan
Clinical Social Worker

“THANK YOU so much for coming out on a Sunday evening to spend time with B2M. The brothers are still on Cloud Nine because of your visit. We have decided to make From the Barrio our 2nd quarter book to read with small assignments for each section. We will come together at our January meeting to discuss the book and it’s impact on the lives of the brothers. I cannot even put into words how much this will influence their entire lives!!”

— Clayton Muhammad
Founder, Boys II Men mentoring program,
Aurora, IL

“This book has to be the most emotional and most inspiring book that I have ever read it shows people that you can have a purpose in life and you have to believe in yourself and try to work has hard as you can to succeed in life. I found the book so inspiring for me I can do what’s best for my life.”

— Efren Ferrer, Jr.
High School Student

After hearing Robert speak at the Hispanic Heritage Breakfast I was touched
and excited!!! I went home and read his book within 2hours. I was tearing a
lot because I was able to see myself. I felt he was writing the book about
me. I appreciated his boldness and his mission!!! Robert is AWESOME!!! What
an inspiration he is to all Latinos!!!

—Sonia Gonzalez
Agent, Senior Insurance Agency

When I returned back to the office I grabbed your book that Jeff had on his
shelf as I was truly inspired by you when we had dinner 2 weeks ago. You are
a true blessing as I have a great opportunity upon my many travels to meet
various and interesting people and you honestly touched me. You are a true
testament to many youths of today and I know your book will reach thousands
and I know it will inspire and change the lives of many to stand up and do
the right thing and get out of the barrio that they may live in (Rich or Poor)
and get out in the world and make a difference for themselves.

I began reading your book last Wednesday night and did not put it down until
after I read it all the way through, which ended up being after midnight. I
told your story to my 16 year old daughter last weekend and asked her to read
it when I bring it home to her this coming weekend.

The greatest thing I gained from who you are is the fact that we as many young
and up and coming business professionals lose sight of what is important and
that is we forget about the people side of life and business and focus on the
bottom line all too much.

As I told you, I have 3 children (16, 8 & 3) in which I was one who never
wanted any children, but to make a lot of money (Selfish, self absorbed individual).
I have discovered that I could love someone more than myself. The hard part
was to have the 2nd child, which took over 8 years after the first, because
I loved my only one child and did not feel I could give the same love to any
other child as I did with her. Not True as I have found out!! The difficulty
in life is not getting enough time to mold them into the people I want them
to become, but I try to find time as much as I can.

I plan on reading your book to my 8 year old over the weekend when I go back
home, as you know I took this position at Hamilton and commute from West Michigan
to Detroit on the weekends until my house sells and I can get my family here.

Please call me anytime as I feel fortunate to have met you and got the chance
to know you. It was a great pleasure for me!

Keith Garris

I am american challenge



The From the Barrio Foundation is currently implementing From the Barrio to the Classroom in Chicago Public Schools and schools and youth prisons around the country. To view where the program is being utilized see our program usage page.

learn more


"This book is for everyone who wants to be touched in some way by the mere fact that we exist in a world that can be a better place if we reach out to bring others up."

-Zaida Rodriguez, Former President, Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Read What Others are Saying

your stories

"After reading From the Barrio to the Board Room, Mary quit her job and started her own private practice." "I was afraid but I read his book and it inspired me, and I thought, "I can do this," and then I started to put my plan into action." - Mary McMillan Clinical Social Worker
submit yourstory