With hit songs like “Hips Don’t Lie,” Colombian artist Shakira is best known for her catchy lyrics and fancy dance moves. But now she’s building a reputation for being an advocate for children all over the world. Her most recent effort: raising awareness about the importance of early education in the United States.
In December, Shakira joined President Obama’s early childhood education campaign, Invest in Us. The campaign was launched at a White House Summit on Early Education in Washington, DC, and focuses on learning opportunities for kids from birth until kindergarten.
Shakira, who is pregnant, took part in the Summit remotely. The singer joined a Twitter chat with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to answer questions.
During the chat, Shakira shared her thoughts about the importance of education. “Poverty is perpetuated by the lack of opportunities like universal access to quality [education],” she tweeted.
A major objective of Invest in US is to “build a better nation by expanding high-quality early childhood education.” According to an analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, early childhood education for all could bring substantial economic returns to society—to the tune of roughly $8.60 for every $1 spent. These benefits would be due in part to improved health and lower rates of involvement with the criminal justice system. Kids with learning and thinking differences might also benefit.
Shakira narrated a Spanish-language video to support the campaign. Other celebrities like Julianne Moore, Jennifer Garner and John Legend are also participating in Invest in US.
This isn’t the first time Shakira has worked with President Obama. In 2011, the President appointed her to the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Nor is it the first time she’s advocated for kids. In 1997, when she was just 18, Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) Foundation to help improve the living conditions of vulnerable children. And in 2006, she created the ALAS foundation. ALAS promotes child development, specifically in the area of education.
Since ALAS was founded, Shakira has traveled the world promoting the importance of early childhood education. Her work has earned her the title of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
So the next time you hear “Hips Don’t Lie,” remember there’s an advocate for kids behind all those nifty moves. Shakira is one of many celebrities talking about the importance of learning and education.
This post was originally written in Spanish. Click on the “Español” button at the top of the page to read the post in Spanish.
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About the author
Gaby Bobadilla, MA started her career as an editor and translator 20 years ago at Scholastic in New York City.