In 1994, Martin Flores, then 21, experienced the tragic death of his brother, Rogelio, 17, who was a victim of a drive-by shooting incident in East Los Angeles. Both brothers were actively involved in the community, specifically with the graffiti abatement program, which put murals in place of graffiti.
Instead of turning his pain and sorrow into violence, Martin initiated a program to address the issues facing young people in his community. He felt that had the shooter received more attention at home and school, he may not have dropped out of school and become a killer. He established the Rogelio Flores Foundation in 1994, in memory of his brother; to help young people stay out of gangs, drugs and to encourage them to further their education.
The Foundation operates on the motto, "Teachers of the Children" and believes that the youth should be involved in addressing issues that face them. The volunteer base primarily consists of high-school and college-aged "teaching interns" who tutor and provide personal guidance to approximately 80 second through sixth-grade students in the Foundation's Si Se Puede! (Yes You Can) Tutorial Program.
In addition to assisting younger children in their studies, the "teaching interns" receive assistance in the areas of application writing, test taking and essay writing as they pursue higher education. The Foundation has also raised funds to take the "teaching interns" to different schools in the University of California system. To date, out of the 36 juniors and seniors who have participated in the visitation program, 30 are either in college or are applying to go to college.
La Belleza Del Barrio (The Beauty of the Neighborhood) Program, another component of the Foundation matches adult artists with "taggers" (people who spray paint graffiti on neighborhood buildings) to adorn stark walls and freeway overpasses with murals depicting Hispanic culture. These programs, he feels, do more than beautify the neighborhood, they also educate the youth of their rich Mexican/Latino heritage.