How Eva Longoria Is Creating a Better World for Young Latinas (Exclusive)

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Eva Longoria is using her star power for a good cause -- and she wants others to join her. 

In honor of International Women's Day, ET is shining a light on the 43-year-old actress and director's work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, which aims to create a better world for young Latinas. 

Longoria, who has been fighting for Latinx visibility and opportunity for decades, started the Eva Longoria Foundation in 2012, to help young girls in the Latinx community build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship. ET was with the new mom as she visited one of the grantees of her foundation, DIY Girls, at the Girls Athletic Leadership School. 

"[This program] helps young middle school girls with electronics and robotics, and just introducing them and exposing them to STEM subjects, getting them excited about it," Longoria explained. "It also teaches leadership and mentorship and everything that is really going to help them build life skills and get them prepared for the world."

The Desperate Housewives alum, who welcomed son Santiago with husband José Antonio Bastón last June, confessed to ET that being a mom herself has made her even more emotional when it comes to seeing the success of her foundation, and how it has impacted girls' lives. 

"We're in the day-to-day, head down, feet moving, working [mentality], and sometimes I get tunnel vision... and then today, when you stand back and you see the impact that all that work is making, even on one family or one child, and then when you see a group, it's just overwhelming," she expressed. "It makes all of those days of hard work worth it." 

Longoria -- who earned her master's degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge in 2013 and wrote a thesis on the value of Latinas in STEM careers -- noted that she grew up in a family where higher education was encouraged. She wants young Latinas to have the same experience and opportunity. 

"I had really great role models in my sisters. They were very smart, they were all computer engineers, they all went to college, they all got their master's. All my aunts and my mom, everyone was very educated, so the word 'college' and 'university' was always used in my house," she recalled. 

"We have come to find through the foundation [that] the word 'college' has not been introduced to a household until it's too late, maybe your senior year and a counselor comes to a classroom and says, 'What about college?' and they are like, 'Oh, is that a possibility for me?'" Longoria explained. "That's what we're trying to do, is just provide this infrastructure of opportunity for all of these young girls."

The producer couldn't have been more excited to visit the Latinas affected by her foundation. "I am so proud to see these programs working and actually changing their lives," she gushed. "To hear a little girl say, 'I want to be an 'engibneer' when she means engineer, like, she is even too young to pronounce the word right, is everything to me."

Longoria also wants fans to know that it's easy to get involved. "People do see the glitz and the glamour of charity work and they... think you have to be rich or famous to do charitable work, and it's the exact opposite," she shared. "It's the women here today running the program, it's the parents who make sure their children are enrolled in something like this, and it's the kids who really want better for themselves and really don't know how to do that [who are the heart of this foundation]." 

The philanthropist is all about supporting fellow women in all aspects of her life, recently talking with ET about the importance of "uplifting" fellow Latina actresses like America Ferrera and Gina Rodriguez. See more on their friendship in the video below. 

Get more Latinx news on ET MÁS, ETonline's new section featuring the latest celeb, film, TV, music and style news.

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