A poor rebel with no agenda to lose.
That’s how Oak Cliff native Adan Gonzalez says his father would describe him, although it’s something they laugh about now.
Gonzalez is the founder of the Puede Network, a community-based organization that has several programs to help bolster underprivileged kids and students in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, specifically the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. He also graduated from both Georgetown and Harvard before returning to his childhood neighborhood in Oak Cliff to teach elementary school.
Officially, the Puede Network says its mission is “to cultivate and prepare America’s students to be candidates for scholarships fellowships, higher academic pursuits, and inspires them to develop into servant leaders and community stewards.”
That mission is an extension of Gonzalez’s own mission. He says “My purpose in life is to empower our community to be the best version of themselves.”
The Puede Network offers various programs to empower, ranging from providing incoming college students with basic resources to youth leadership and education programs. It’s more than just motivational talks or care packages – Puede interfaces and directly effects the lives of young people in the community and gets them involved in making it better.
“I’ve seen my community suffer through a lot of different things,” says Alexis, a lead youth volunteer with the Puede Network, “I see a lot of my struggles in my community. And I just feel like I want to be the change that my community ever so greatly needs.”
For Gonzalez, the Puede Network is also about changing the narrative and perception he says his community has. “My parents are not criminals,” he says, “my community are better than what people illustrate. And I think part of what we’re trying to change is all the negative statistics that exist in, about our community.”
The Puede Network has grown to offer programs and groups not only for youth, but also parents. Another one of their initiatives is Puede All-Star Parents, a bi-weekly group that encourages conversations about difficult topics such as race, immigration, cultural sensitivity, community engagement, poverty, dignity and respect.
Despite the impact and growth of the Puede Network, Gonzalez remains humble. He says “at the end of the day, you know, that’s who I am. I’m just a kid from the hood with dreams that we can make each other’s lives better if we work together.”
For more information about the Puede Network and their programs, visit puedenetwork.com.