Shirley Acevedo Buontempo

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo

Founder, Latino U College Access, Inc.


Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, a 30+ year marketing and nonprofit professional, is the Founder of Latino U College Access (LUCA), where she has built a thriving organization that brings together cultural relevance, bilingualism, and program strategy to provide college access and opportunity to first-generation Latino youth.

Born in Puerto Rico and a first-generation college graduate herself, she is a dedicated advocate for the transformational power of education and for helping Latino students achieve their dreams through higher education. With a passion for social justice and a deep understanding of the Latino community’s challenges, she is committed to advancing opportunity and equity for those most in need. She serves on LUCA’s Board of Directors and was nominated to serve on the Westchester County Hispanic Advisory Board. Under Shirley’s leadership, founded in 2012, LUCA grew from a pilot program in one local high school with 2 LUCA Scholars to a recognized leader in college access and success with an annual revenue of over $1.3M. Her vision expanded the organization's services to reach over 6,000 Latino parents and students and coached over 300 Latino U Scholars annually to apply, enroll, and graduate from college successfully.

Shirley was one of five national winners selected as a Fellow to receive the 2019 AARP Purpose Prize in recognition of her efforts in building a nonprofit organization by utilizing her life experience to “create new solutions that make the world a better place for people of all ages.” LUCA’s programs have also been recognized as Examples of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education, a national advocacy and research group that brings attention to evidence-based practices that accelerate Latino student success in higher education.

Before founding Latino U College Access, Shirley had a successful career in Hispanic Marketing and Advertising, having worked for Grey Advertising, Saatchi and Saatchi, and CPC International. She received a BBA in Marketing and an MPA in Nonprofit Management from Pace University. Shirley was a 2014 Fellow of the National Hispana Leadership Institute and has certification from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Executive Leadership and the Center for Creative Leadership.

What inspires you about the impact of Latino Changemakers that you see all over the US?

Latino Changemakers serve as inspiring role models and champions who break down barriers to forge pathways for opportunities and empower the Latino community. Changemakers embody the exceptional talent, diversity, and resilience of our community while showcasing the remarkable contributions Latinos can make to the future of America.