Hispanic Heritage Foundation

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The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) annual Phoenix Regional Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards honors Latino high school seniors from the Phoenix area for their accomplishments in the classroom and community, focusing on various categories. Santiago Amieva, Hispanic Heritage Foundation senior manager of programs and chief of staff talks about the youth awards and the foundation.

Jose Cardenas: This week the Hispanic heritage foundation honored 21 Latino high school seniors from the Phoenix region for their accomplishments in the classroom, community, and focus on various categories at ASU. Here to talk about this, Santiago Amieva, Hispanic Heritage Foundation senior manager of programs and chief of staff. Welcome to "Horizonte." Talk about the events this week.

Santiago Amieva: Sure. Just to give you a little background on Hispanic heritage foundation, we were created in the middle '80s by president Ronald Reagan. Sixteen years ago the foundation created the youth awards program.

Jose Cardenas: Here in Arizona.

Santiago Amieva: All over the United States, Arizona being one of the many markets. We have recognized the best and brightest Latino high school students across the country, Arizona being one of the markets.

Jose Cardenas: How do you do that?

Santiago Amieva: We receive thousands of applications to our office. We get students to supply through colleges, high school counselors, their teachers. We do a huge push online, through social media. Through different kinds of PR methods. Through the youth awards program --

Jose Cardenas: What are you looking to honor? What are the qualities that you are looking to?

Santiago Amieva: The students are nothing short of amazing. They recipients average over a 3.8 GPA. Captains of the soccer team, captains of the chess club. Going to the top universities in the country after high school, some of them even have their own start-ups and nonprofits already created.

Jose Cardenas: Is there a committee that selects them or how is the process handled?

Santiago Amieva: We do it internally as well, and we have community leaders chip in and sometimes the corporate sponsors help us as well.

Jose Cardenas: Why would a student be interested in applying for this? What's the benefit to them? As I understand it, it is not just up front, but later on as well.

Santiago Amieva: Students receive an educational grant for when they go off to college. Grant can be used for tuition, used to buy books or a laptop. It can be used to fund a start-up if they so choose. We don't just give them an educational grant and say good luck, we will see you in four years. We stay with them, follow them, a huge network of students. This was started in 1988, in our 16th year of this. Huge network of student 18-34 that have gone through the program. We provide dozens of other opportunities, not just for educational grants, but opportunities for fellowships, internships, full-time placement in other positions.

Jose Cardenas: How many awardees a year?

Santiago Amieva: It depends on the amount of corporate sponsorship, but 15-21 per region, 10 markets across the country, including Phoenix.

Jose Cardenas: There are categories that they are selected for.

Santiago Amieva: This year, six categories ranging from business entrepreneurship, mathematics, innovation technology, sports and fitness, community service. A wide range of many different tracts and fields. These are leaders of today, not tomorrow. We want to make sure that they're going to all of these different fields. Latinos need to fill the job placement for America in all of these different fields.

Jose Cardenas: If I had a student, let's say my granddaughter and she was applying, would she pick one of those six categories?

Santiago Amieva: She could pick as many as she wants. Whatever really she wants to do. Whatever her career choice is. We stay in touch with them. They receive the grant, let's say they want to major in engineer and mathematics, we have a corporate sponsor who offers them a fellowship later on in college or post-graduate. It depends on what the student wants to do.

Jose Cardenas: Does this mean they would have already shown aptitude, let's say, for engineering or mathematics?

Santiago Amieva: Absolutely, I told you earlier, these students are amazing. They're also doing these things in high school and will continue to do them through college and post graduate and off to the professional field as well.

Jose Cardenas: And that is a factor for them being selected for that particular category?

Santiago Amieva: They answer some short questions so we get a better feel of who they are. They're very well-rounded, captains of soccer team, countless hours of community service into the area. Absolutely that goes into the selection process.

Jose Cardenas: If people want more information about the program, how do they get that?

Santiago Amieva: Visit our web site, hispanicheritage.org --

Jose Cardenas: We have that on the screen right now.

Santiago Amieva: On our different programs for -- they can find anything they want on that web site.

Jose Cardenas: It sounds like an amazing program. Congratulations on 16 years of awards here in Arizona and thank you for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about it.

Santiago Amieva: Thank you.

Santiago Amieva:Senior Manager of Programs and chief of Staff, Hispanic Heritage Foundation;

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