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Esperanza awards more than $120,000 in scholarships


CLEVELAND, June 22, 2018: Esperanza Inc. today awarded more than $120,000 in college scholarships to 106 Cuyahoga County students at its annual Fiesta of Hope Celebration.  The event also celebrated the nonprofit’s 35th Anniversary as the leading advocate for education in the Latino Community with the unveiling of new branding and logo.

“We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our students to achieve in high school and continue their education in college,” said Victor Ruiz, Esperanza Executive Director.  “We are also grateful to our staff, volunteers and community partners whose continued commitment is critical to Esperanza’s role in supporting our students’ success in the classroom.”

Fiesta of Hope, which also serves as Esperanza’s major annual fundraiser, drew more than 800 elected officials, business and community leaders to the Renaissance Hotel to celebrate the academic achievements of Cleveland’s Hispanic students. Since awarding the first college scholarship in 1983, Esperanza has awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships to more than 1,100 students through its scholarship program.

Cleveland Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, the first Latino diocesan bishop in the entire Midwest, delivered the keynote address, focusing his message to the scholarship recipients and their families emphasizing the importance of continuing their education to live a life of purpose.

In addition, two scholarship recipients shared their personal stories of persistence to overcome barriers to achieve success, as well as their inspiration to persevere.  Abraham López, born in Colombia and celebrated becoming a U.S. citizen just last month, will begin his freshman year at Cleveland State University in the fall.  Abraham is inspired to pursue a career in medicine after witnessing for two years the care and compassion of the doctors who treated his two-year-old brother after accidentally drinking a toxic cleaning solution.

Nyleishca González, born in Puerto Rico, will begin her sophomore year at Cleveland State.  Despite the death of her father and losing her mother to addiction at a young age, Nyleishca, with the support of her aunt who adopted her, not only graduated from Lincoln West with honors but maintains an above 3.0 GPA in college while also working part time.

“The vast majority of our students are balancing family, financial and cultural challenges in addition to the rigor of a college curriculum,” Ruiz said.  “That is why the work of Esperanza over the last 35 years – to provide financial assistance and support resources – is essential to ensuring our students’ success in high school and in college.  We are definitely seeing that our comprehensive post-secondary support program is, in fact, having a direct, positive impact.”

Esperanza’s college scholarship program is one part of the organization’s five-year strategic plan to provide students the comprehensive support they need to succeed in college.  Esperanza also provides college mentoring and the semester-long Lideres Avanzando Program, which helps students understand the higher education system and provide the skills and support necessary to graduate with a college degree in a reasonable timeframe.

Of the nearly 162 students who graduated from high school in the last three years and participated in Esperanza’s post-secondary program, 88 percent have persisted in college. This figure is in stark contrast to national numbers which demonstrate that while college enrollment for Hispanic students has risen dramatically, college success among Latino students continues to lag other groups.  The share of Hispanic 18 to 24-year olds enrolled in postsecondary education increased from 13 percent to 37 percent from 1972 to 2012; however, Hispanic students are more than one-third less likely than their peers to complete their degrees.

Scholarship recipients were selected after an extensive application and interview process.  All recipients must be a Cuyahoga County resident, have at least one parent who is Hispanic, and be legal U.S. residents.  In addition, recipients must be enrolled as full-time students, demonstrate financial need and maintain a 2.5 GPA.  Students may re-apply for scholarships annually as long as they maintain a 2.5 GPA and participate in Esperanza’s College Mentoring Program and volunteer to assist with Esperanza programs and activities.

Esperanza scholarships are provided through generous sponsorships from local businesses, organizations and private donors.  Contributions to the program can be made through the Esperanza website, http://www.esperanzainc.org/support_us/donate.

Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/26/18 13:20:13 -0700.




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