A Proud Legacy of Supporting Education and Leadership for Latino families in Atlanta

For over two decades, Los Niños Primero has been dedicated to providing educational support to underserved Latino students, youth, and their families. Our programs aim to prepare children, youth, and parents to excel in their communities while fostering a love of learning at any stage of life.


Our story begins with Los Niños Primero founder and Executive Director Maritza Morelli who emigrated from her native Venezuela to Atlanta, Georgia. She came to the United States motivated and determined to contribute to her new community. Her steadfast determination and intentional actions have helped to measurably improve the lives of countless Latino children, youth, and adults. She has managed this vital work by building a cohesive, inclusive community, centered around the Los Niños Primero organization.
In 2001, she partnered with Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church to create a culturally poignant and inviting education program to support Latino children in the area of Sandy Springs, Atlanta that, along with their parents, were struggling to find the resources they needed to thrive in the public school system, and Los Niños Primero was born.

Alongside bilingual speech pathologist and diagnostician Martha Barrios Mead (1951-2017), the first Los Niños Primero Summer Program launched at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Sandy Springs with 17 Latino students joining for two weeks of learning and fun. The early years of Los Niños Primero are a true reflection of the power of community, and they set the course for our visionary curriculum that to this day has impacted over 6100 Latino children, youth, and families.

Maritza’s leadership has established Los Niños Primero as a trusted resource to Atlanta’s underserved Latino population. Her visionary and compassionate leadership has fostered a trust in the Latino immigrant community that benefits and serves all Atlanta residents by inspiring a more civically engaged, healthy, stable and educated populace.

In 2022, Maritza received the Congressional Honor for her leadership and skilled execution of Los Niños Primero’s mission to empower Latino students and their families. Congresswoman Lucy McBath selected Maritza as one of the three Latina leaders whose names and stories have been entered into the Congressional Record.

In September 2021, The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce selected Maritza Morelli as one of 50 Most Influential Latino Leaders in the state, and in 2020, Maritza was chosen by Atlanta Business Chronicle for their Women Who Mean Business award, as one of the 21 powerful women who have made significant strides in their careers while making a difference in their communities.

In May 2020, Maritza was chosen by the Latin American Association to receive their 2020 Inspiration Award, and in January 2019, Maritza and Los Niños Primero were recognized with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the city of Sandy Springs.

Under her leadership, Los Niños Primero was recognized as the Top Nonprofit Organization in Atlanta by Mundo Hispanico.

Prior to leading Los Niños Primero, Maritza Morelli earned her bachelor’s degree in special education and her master’s degree in child psychology.


Our programs and vision now go beyond early education support focused on helping  Latino families as they navigate the US public school system. Now, our focus is on supporting whole Latino families from early childhood to college through comprehensive academic and leadership development programs that look to inspire Latino children, youth, and parents.

Early Childhood Education

Inspired by the Finnish education system, our early education programs have an exciting curriculum, applied by Georgia Certified teachers and aligned with Play Based Learning and Project Based Learning practices, as well as Social, Emotional, and Ethical Learning, to provide a comprehensive education in language, math, science, art, and yoga.

Youth Service and Leadership

Our youth programs include a service component, as well as a leadership and career exploration curriculum. In 2023, we will launch Creciendo Juntas: A Big & Little Sister Mentorship Program (Girls Growing Together), connecting generations of Latina young adults and girls that will support and empower each other. 

Family Leadership and Education Programs

Parents are a core component of our vision to ensure Latino children and youth develop learning skills that they will carry with them beyond the classroom and into their communities. To make this vision a reality, we center our parent programs around three pillars: supporting them with the academic tools they need to be active voices in the public school system through MALDEF’s curriculum for Parent-School Partnership; Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (developed at Emory University) and building healthy habits  with Cooking Matters that target their mental well being; and leadership initiatives through Fostering Family Leaders and our Coach Parent program.

Martha Barrios Mead Scholarship

In 2018, as the first Los Niños Primero preschool students were college-aged and considering their academic futures, an endowment was established that would honor and cement Martha’s legacy as architect of Los Niños Primero’s impact in Latino children.

Since our inception, we’ve strived to develop human beings with strong ethical principles, understanding that a humanistic approach to education goes beyond the classroom setting. Through our arts, sports, cultural enrichment, and well being programs, we inspire and nurture the human mind, body, and spirit.


Dance, Orchestra, Chorus, and Theatre (in partnership with the Alliance Theatre) all improve children’s creativity, critical thinking, motor skills, language development, and social skills, promoting self discipline and expression.


The LNP Soccer Academy is an affordable program that consists of two teams: U8-U12. The Soccer Academy inspires and advances a better quality of life for our young players by integrating social, health and emotional well-being instruction.


Our partnership with GoldFish Swim is made possible by funding from the City of Sandy Springs, and it helps our young students gain strength, endurance, and an important life skill.


In partnership with bilingual counselor Rosa Camarillo, we strive to give families the wellness education, tools and resources that they need to feel happy, healthy, and capable of managing life’s pressures.

For 23 years, Los Niños Primero has been dedicated to providing comprehensive educational support and nurturing the academic, social, and emotional well-being of Latino children and their families. Our journey as key innovators in the education space in Atlanta is just getting started as we creatively cultivate a culturally learning environment that empowers teachers and students alike through Play & Inquiry Based Learning, fostering a new generation of independent thinkers ready to engage the world around them.

We are proud of our enduring and storied legacy of success and remain committed to empowering the next generation of Latino leaders in our community.