More than half of the scholarships being presented by the Scholars of Toledo Foundation will be awarded to Latino students graduating from Toledo Public Schools this spring, foundation officials announced Monday.
Shanda Gore, the foundation’s board president, said the school district and the University of Toledo are working to make sure more students of color are aware of, and applying for the scholarships, and that there is more diversity among minority student applicants.
“We have built a really strong team of counselors whose job is to reach out to our students and families,” said Ms. Gore, the University of Toledo’s assistant vice president, who oversees the Office of Equity and Diversity. “I’m a first-generation college student myself.”
More than 80 scholarships totaling about $60,000 will be awarded to about 45 graduating seniors from Toledo Public Schools this spring through the Scholars of Toledo Foundation. The announcement was made at the University of Toledo’s Driscoll Alumni Center.
“During the 10 years we’ve offered the scholarship we’ve provided students with over $1 million,” Ms. Gore said.
Guisselle Mendoza, executive director of Adelante, Latino and Community Resource Center, said the news is welcome because Latino students often get overlooked, or not made aware of resources and opportunities like scholarships.
“This is really good news,” Ms. Mendoza said. “Latinos are always told they’re not included.”
The bad news is many Latino and African-American students don’t do well in school. In Toledo Public Schools, the graduation rate for Latinos students in 2012 was 58 percent, African Americans 61 percent, and bi-racial students 56 percent, compared with 72 percent for white students, according to the most recent state report card.
“One in four started college but never finished, and all they have to show for it is a lot of debt,” said Kevin Milliken, foundation board member and community-relations coordinator for Herzing University in Toledo.
Ms. Gore said the foundation is trying to build partnerships with various community organizations to help them address retention and graduation issues.
Ms. Mendoza said Adelante offers early literacy and after-school programs for middle-school-age youths and hopes to restart its high school program in September.
Adelante would welcome the opportunity to work with the University of Toledo and Toledo Public Schools to help improve the success of Latino students, Ms. Mendoza said.
“We already have the infrastructure in place that could fit into their efforts to help keep track and work with the students’ parents,” she said. “You have to earn the trust of the children and their parents if you want to help them.”
The Scholars of Toledo Foundation offers a variety of scholarships, Ms. Gore said. For example, a Libbey High School alumni has donated funds to start a new scholarship this year, the Libbey Legacy Lives Scholarship, for graduates of his alma mater.
More than 110 students applied for scholarships this year, Mr. Milliken said. Fewer than 50 students applied for scholarships last school year, he said.
The scholarship program is a joint effort between the school district and the University of Toledo, Ms. Gore said.
Scholarships will be presented during a May 14 Salute to Scholars event at the Premier Banquet Hall, 4480 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets to the 6 p.m. event are $50 per person and can be purchased by contacting the foundation at 419-450-7672.
Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.