PUEBLO, CO — As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we're recognizing a local organization that's helping Hispanic students pursue higher education and a college degree or certificate.
The Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation was founded in 1988, and this academic school year, the organization has helped more than 375 students by giving out more than $750,000 in scholarship money. Many of the students use those funds to go to college at CSU Pueblo, Pueblo Community College, while others pursue their degree in different parts of the country.
"College has always been a dream of mine. One of the missing factors for sure was finding a way to pay for it," said Philip Flores, a megatronics engineering student at CSU Pueblo. Flores, 22 years old, is among the hundreds the organization has helped. "Without the scholarships, it would've been hard, I would have had to take out an insane amount of loans and thankfully with the scholarships, I'm able to be here."
The foundation's primary goal is to serve students in Pueblo County through scholarships and majority of the recipients are Hispanic because the county's demographics and population.
"What we're seeing is first generation students in our community, they struggle being first time students in their family," said Janelle Quick, the executive director for the foundation. "We're able to serve those students and their families and tell them why college is so important or post secondary options are important. We can help their families navigate and understand that process."
"They call me when they get internships, they tell me when they got good grades, we get graduation announcements delivered to us, we get thank you notes, and all of those things make us realize that the work we're doing makes an impact," said Quick. "These are our leaders for our community, five, ten, 15 years from now."
The organization works closely with the county, state, and private partners to receive funds. They also receive funds from the marijuana excess tax fund.
Phillip's 20-year-old brother David is another scholarship recipient.
"It's helped me a lot with trying to achieve my dream of going to be a video game artist, and with the help of the scholarship, I'm able to take courses to help me upgrade my skills to where they need to be," said David, an art major at CSU Pueblo.
The scholarships range anywhere from $2,000 to $2,500 and making a big impact for local students.
For the two brothers, who grew up in Pueblo, they were honored to get some of the funds. When the scholarship recipients are announced, they then take a photo with other scholarship recipients at the county courthouse.
"It was very motivating to see all the different students and reactions and the smiles to continue their dream just as I have," said Phillip. "It means a lot to know that my city, my hometown was able to find resources here to continue my college dream."
The organization also provides workshops all year-long on things like how to fill out resumes and financial aid papers, or fine tuning writing and math skills, test-taking skills, or how to communicate with professors
Every day during Hispanic Heritage Month, the organization is also celebrating local and national heroes in the Hispanic community. If you go to their social media pages, you'll see a different person recognized each day.