Lino Sanchez is founder and executive director of Urban Achievers, an organization committed to significantly improving the outcomes of children and families living in under-resourced and underserved Boston communities by providing learning experiences and opportunities that foster physical, social, and intellectual development.
Lino grew up, like many urban youth then and now, in a world of limited options and narrow horizons. Raised by his mother, Lino’s childhood was punctuated by moments of deep hurt and broken trust from those closest to him: the verbal and physical violence of an addicted stepfather, sexual abuse by his priest, and his mother’s abusive boyfriend who kicked him out of the house. At age 13, Lino was homeless, with nowhere to go. And while many of his more privileged peers in other parts of Boston and its suburbs spent their teenage years in Advanced Placement classes, at homecoming football games, and filling out college applications, Lino dropped in and out of school and in and out of gangs, eventually selling drugs just to get by. At 17, his future collapsed. Stabbed in a fight and left for dead, Lino was convicted on five counts of armed assault with intent to commit murder and sentenced to 7 ½ – 15 years.
It was in prison that Lino began the long, slow work of personal and professional rebuilding, and it began with a commitment – that no child, simply by accident of birth, should miss out on the chance to live a healthy and enriching life from day one, with the power to see clearly and choose freely what his or her future can be.
After earning his GED, Lino completed his bachelor’s degree in human services. He worked in youth development and gang/drug prevention for the city of Somerville and the Roxbury YMCA before becoming director of graduate support and the dean of students at Epiphany School in Dorchester. During that time he also spent several years directing Epiphany’s residential summer intensive program at the Groton School as well as leading basketball camps to engage local youth both athletically and academically.
Now, as Urban Achievers reaches more and more Boston youth with its program of academic enrichment and hands-on experience, Lino remains committed to the hope that no child growing up today in Boston’s underserved neighborhoods has to endure what he did. That instead of fates determined by poverty and racism and a nation that looks the other way, youth in every urban community would be fully served, fully supported, and fully empowered to achieve.