We work to provide scholarship opportunities for college-bound Latino(a) students in Western Massachusetts.
In 1988, a group of Latino friends and educators sat around a kitchen table to discuss how to help Latino(a) students succeed beyond high school.
Frustrated by the lack of scholarships received by Latino(a) students, Angel Nieto, Carlos Vega, Sylvia Galvan, Gloria Arce, Aida Oquendo, and others began meeting to brainstorm how best to respond. The result was the Latino Scholarship Fund (LSF), one of many scholarships administered by the Community Foundation Of Western Massachusetts.
Donations totaling over $2,000 were received that first year. Since that time, the number of students receiving the award has grown through the support of community groups, local college staff and faculty, and LSF friends. With the help of a challenge grant by a local entrepreneur, the continued support of Peoples Bank, and the association with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the LSF was able to grow and expand its reach, and its annual award banquet has since become a major celebration of local Latino achievement.
Each year, at an annual banquet, we award $1,500 each to 12 Latino(a) students in Western Massachusetts who are selected through the Foundation scholarship review process.
“Working with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has been pivotal to our efforts and enabled the fund to reach more students,” said former Latino Scholarship Fund Board Director Maddie Marquez. “It is essential that our efforts are transparent, well known, and above reproach. Partnering with the Community Foundation helps to ensure that these three objectives are met. It also has allowed us to reach more young people in the community and simultaneously allowed students who have become familiar with the LSF to complete the single CFWM application to become eligible for other community scholarships offered through the CFWM as well.”
CFWM volunteers review scholarship applications. Students are selected on the basis of need, academic achievement, and community involvement. Many of the applicants have overcome adversity to pursue their dreams of education and success. “This scholarship’s very existence and the experience of attending the dinner have given hope to students aspiring to attend college and helped to change lives,” said Marquez.
Past recipients are invited to attend the dinner in future years to welcome the new recipients and to encourage their sense of community. In addition, recipients meet LSF banquet honorees — Latino(a) and non-Latino(a) adult professionals working in a range of fields to improve and enrich communities in the region.
LSF continues to reach out to individuals and institutions to meet the pressing need for financial support.
“Working with the CFWM has allowed us to better serve deserving students of very limited means in the greater Holyoke/Springfield area,” said Marquez. “Ours has proved to be a partnership whose accomplishments and promise bode well for students and community alike.”