The Last Word: Pasos for Oak Cliff’s Jesse Acosta on Brush with Netflix Fame

“It could have been a scam. [We] could have maybe been kidnapped.”

Jesse Acosta
Pasos for Oak Cliff
.…on how his nonprofit, which gives sneakers to kids in need, landed he and his co-founder a trip to New York to promote a Netflix movie, via D Magazine.

Acosta and his co-founder, Alejandra Zendejas, are a sneakerhead couple who instill confidence in children across Oak Cliff and Texas by giving them free new pairs of sneakers, with the students nominated by their schools for the nonprofit gifts.

Somewhere in New York, Netflix was watching. The streaming giant emailed the co-founders an invitation to fly to the Big Apple to help promote “You People,” a comedy movie starring Jonah Hill as a sneakerhead in an interracial, interfaith romance. A sneakerhead couple in their own romance, Acosta and Zendejas made the trip and came home with shoelace-shaped gold rings designed by Sean Wotherspoon and jeweler Greg Yuna.

[Photo: Pasos for Oak Cliff]

According to D’s Catherine Wendlandt, Pasos for Oak Cliff has given over 2,100 pairs of sneakers to kids so far. Acosta, a teacher at Kimball High School, co-launched the nonprofit after noticing that many economically disadvantaged students wear worn hand-me-downs. To source the shoes, Pasos organizes community shoe drives before school begins in the fall and before the winter holidays.

Besides the shoe giveaways, another initiative the couple leads is Pasos All Stars, a month-long summer program that teaches ninth-graders math and literacy through the lens of the sneaker design industry. 

The kids “were the ones showing up earlier than us,” Acosta told D. “Sometimes they wanted to stay even longer.” And the kids stepped up with results, improving theirmath and literacy skills by at least half a grade year, Acosta told D.

Read D’s full story here.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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