Teacher Creates ‘Pasos for Oak Cliff,' Aims to Give Shoes to Students in Need

Self-proclaimed 'sneakerhead' teacher Jesse Acosta set out to help low-income students

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An Oak Cliff teacher is helping low-income students step into the new school year with confidence.

As soon as teacher Jesse Acosta stepped foot inside Oak Cliff’s Kimball High School, he saw a need.

“I’ve seen some students wear, like, some really worn out shoes and I always wanted to give them a pair, but I never knew how to approach the situation,” he said.

Some low-income students, he says, are often bullied for their shoes and feel the need to isolate from others.

A particular concern for this U.S. and Mexican-American studies teacher known for strutting in with the hottest sneakers on Fridays.

“We love shoes,” said Acosta with a smile. “We’re ‘sneakerheads.’ We own more shoes than the average person. Probably too many shoes.”

So Acosta and tutor Alejandra Zendejas stepped up and created non-profit ‘Pasos for Oak Cliff’ giving kids new shoes to walk on.

Pasos means ‘steps’ in Spanish.

An online fundraiser surpassed their initial goal and raised $4,500, he said.

With the money, they were able to hand out 150 pairs of shoes to Oak Cliff children who signed up for the program.

Pasos for Oak Cliff founders Alejandra Zendejas and Jesse Acosta prepare for shoe giveaway

This helped about 60 families in the neighborhood, said Acosta.

“Some of them couldn’t believe it,” he said. “They thought it was a joke.”

Seventh grader Jacqueline Antopia is among children who received a pair.

“They were my favorite color and honestly it was the type of style that I wanted,” she said with a smile thinking of her pink Nike shoes.

Antopio says she is grateful her parents have one less worry when back-to-school shopping.

“It just makes people, like, really happy even in these difficult times,” she said.

Acosta launched the non-profit in August with the hope of also helping families struggling amid COVID-19.

The launch coincided with his own family’s struggle with the virus.

Acosta’s grandfather was admitted into the hospital with COVID-19 and died several days later.

NBC 5 profiled the family's loss in August.

“It just made it more real as to what some families are going through,” he said.

‘Pasos for Oak Cliff’ has a waitlist of over 400 children.

Acosta is raising money for another giveaway in late November with the goal of helping at least 200 students.

For every $5 donation, participants are entered into a giveaway for a pair of Yeezy shoes or Air Jordans, said Acosta.

If you would like to help, click here.

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