At the Latino Scholarship Fund (LSF) banquet on May 23, 2017, we are awarding twelve scholarships to Latino college-bound, low income, high school seniors in Western Massachusetts. At the annual awards dinner, in addition to honoring these students, we also publicly recognize outstanding Latino leaders and allies in a range of fields as role models to our youth.
Awarding scholarships to deserving Latino scholars at our annual banquet attended by over 200 educators and friends of the Latino Scholarship Fund has important impacts on the entire Pioneer Valley community.
A college education increases people’s opportunities in life and directs them to be more engaged citizens. Yet our recipients and their families tell us repeatedly how rare it is for them or their friends to meet professional Latinos who have attended college. Seeing and meeting others at the banquet who have achieved sends a powerful message to young people.
The media presentation of Latino youth is often extremely negative, and students can be influenced by these images. The membership of the LSF and its friends is very diverse, and this is apparent at the Awards Banquet. Our public work counters the negativity that is too prevalent.
Colleges are struggling to meet the needs of their accepted students. We find that our students are too often “gapped.” Because of their high need, the colleges cannot award the levels of funding necessary. Our grants can make the difference between attending and not attending college.
A number of former LSF recipients who are in college now, attend this year’s awards banquet and talk about what the scholarships meant to them and how willing they are to mentor others. This is important visibility of the impact of this program for awardees, their families, past and prospective donors, and educators in the Valley.
The impact of the LSF Scholarships extends beyond the awardees themselves.
Our scholarships often mean the difference between attending college and not enrolling. As a community we cannot afford to lose any of these students.
We reach out to recipients once they are in college to encourage their participation in organizations on their campuses and to assist us with the banquet to support their civic consciousness. We believe such efforts promote greater civic participation beyond college. For several years, for example, a college graduate has been on the CFWM scholarship selection committee.
Our recipients serve as role models to others to demonstrate that extreme poverty should not preclude college attendance.
The Latino Scholarship Fund is important to the community for numerous reasons.
It promotes college enrollment though scholarship support to those students who are working hard to transform their life trajectories.
It is a powerful reminder to recipients’ families and their friends AND community members about the necessity of supporting our youth who aspire to attend college.
By honoring exceptional Latino adults and allies, we remind the young people that they too can aspire to achieve at the highest levels and that giving back is a measure of success. This year we will present three awards:
Harry Melendez, Director of Culture and Inclusion at Holyoke High School and founder of “I’m Running for Holyoke.”
The Center for New Americans that serves refugees and immigrants in the Pioneer Valley by providing English instruction, assisting with citizenship papers, offering job training.
Sylvia Galvan, a well known and tireless advocate to improve educational quality for all students, pre-school through college in Holyoke and Springfield and throughout the Pioneer Valley.