Since the inception of the Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation in 2007 the organization has provided scholarships to more than 238 Hispanic students, opening doors that allowed students to take their first step toward higher education.
The Foundation was developed by leaders of the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of building future Hispanic leaders and creating an educated workforce. From 2008 to 2011, the Chamber administered the Scholars Program and KHEDF served as the financial administrator. In 2012 the Foundation took over the Scholars Program.
The Chamber provided the first award of $1,000 to a graduating high school senior in 2008 and the number of scholarships awarded has continued to grow.
In 2009, five scholarships totaling $14,000 were awarded by the Chamber. In 2010, the Chamber awarded 16 scholarships totaling $29,650. In 2011, 14 scholarships in the amount of $41,160 were awarded by the Chamber. The awards continued to grow as the Foundation assumed administration of the Scholars Program. In 2012, 39 scholarships were awarded by the Foundation for a total of $46,316. In 2013, the Foundation awarded 43 scholarships for a total of $57,175. In 2014, 53 scholarships were awarded by the Foundation for a total of $67,304. And in 2015, 50 scholarships were awarded by the Foundation for a total of $82,158.
Leading the scholarship effort has been Charles Rivera, who served as president of the KHEDF Board from 2007 to 2011, and Yolanda Camarena who has served as president since 2011.
The KHEDF Board members serve as important role models for the scholarship recipients. They are all college graduates, some with multiple degrees including doctorates. Some were scholarship recipients themselves or they worked their way through college. All stand as living proof of “Si se puede.” (It can be done.) For some, they were the first in their families to attend college and earn a degree. The support of the Board through scholarships, in-kind contributions, and professional services are instrumental to the success of the Foundation and our mission.
Since 2012, an anonymous donor has contributed $50,000 and offered a challenge to the Foundation to match the contribution to provide support of the scholarship fund. The Foundation met that challenge and made it possible for 39 scholarship grants to be awarded. Since 2013, KHEDF has been fortunate to have a donor match pledges made at the awards and scholarship recognition dinner.
In 2012 the Foundation began to expand its efforts to assist students by developing workshops that would help students prepare for and succeed in a post-secondary education. “Making the Most of College” was designed to prepare KHEDF scholarship recipients for entering college by providing insight on how to make the most of their college experience and educating students on the skills necessary to ensure success. In 2014, the workshop was funded by a grant from Cox Communications.
In 2013, the Foundation launched “Tu Futuro: Through Education and Leadership.” Hispanic high school juniors from USD 259 with leadership potential and an interest in pursuing a post-secondary education are invited to participate in this leadership workshop. In 2014, a college fair was added to the workshop. The workshop has been funded by the AT&T.
These workshops will continue to be a staple of the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to help students succeed in college.
For every scholarship granted, there are many other qualified Hispanic students who could benefit from a scholarship. In the Wichita school district alone there are over 50,000 students. Hispanics comprise approximately one-third of those students.
KHEDF requires scholarship recipients to maintain a 2.5 grade point average to continue to receive Foundation assistance.