There’s a huge need for increased opportunity for our area Latino students. Many intelligent and talented Latinos who are Wisconsin residents are unable to meet their dream of an education due to lack of financial resources or access to federal aid.
Latinos United for College Education Scholarships (LUCES) is a powerful resource for these students and their 2015 LUCES Fifth Annual Gala Event Scholarship Banquet Aug. 21 is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Latino students’ college success and to raise money for the cause.
“It’s the Fifth Annual Gala Event and it’s our 10th anniversary as an organization,” LUCES founder and President Pedro Albiter tells Madison365. “We are very excited to have made it this far and to have grown so much over the years to this big event that we now have at the Concourse Hotel downtown.”
LUCES is a nonprofit organization that works to ensure bright futures for young Latinos in Wisconsin by providing several merit- and need-based scholarships. “We’ve grown from [giving] one scholarship to three to six. On Friday, we will be giving out seven scholarships,” Albiter says.
In September of 2005, Albiter started a small group called Club Mexiquense and worked with small issues involving the Latino community in the South Central Wisconsin. “Very few people knew what Club Mexiquense was about even though we really worked hard with the Mexican Consulate to bring the mobile consulate to the cultural center,” Albiter remembers. “We served more than 1,000 people every time we brought the consulate here to provide Mexican passports and Mexican I.D.s. Many of those were used to get a GED at MATC or to open businesses or for people to travel and visit their families.”
In 2011, Albiter says that they wanted the organization to be more visible in the community and they changed the name to LUCES. “We became a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we began to expand what we do,” Albiter says.
LUCES added a Mentoring Scholars Program, an initiative sponsored by the LUCES board of directors and coordinated by Dr. Rocio Del Pilar Martinez where LUCES “Rising Stars” are mentored by a successful and well-established Latino professionals in the career of the student’s choice. “There’s a huge need for mentoring Latino students. Many drop out or struggle in school and they just need to have somebody there for them who understands them and what they are going through,” Albiter says. “That’s why we created the Rising Stars mentoring program.”
The growth of LUCES is evident not only in the development of its programs but in the expansion of its Annual Gala. The first LUCES Annual Gala was held at Edgewood College and about 80 people attended. Albiter is expecting about 250 people at the Concourse Hotel this weekend for the Gala that will be sponsored by Arellano and Phebus Law Firm.
The 2015 LUCES Gala will recognize Latino scholars for the academic achievement and community service through scholarships sponsored by local business. In addition, LUCES will recognize the LUCES Educator of the Year. “This is an award for somebody who is making an incredible difference in the life of a student,” Albiter says. “This year’s winner is Matthew Martinez of Verona High School.”
The event will also feature a silent auction with great things to bid on like a night at the Concourse Hotel, a weekend in a northern Wisconsin cottage, and a hand-crafted Aztec calendar. DJ Latin Fresh, Otimo, Madison Brazilian Dance, and Grupo Candela will perform.
“[Madison College’s] Dr. Jack Daniels will welcome people to the event and [attorney]Victor Arellano will be the keynote speaker,” Albiter says. “Rebecca Lopez of Milwaukee will be the mistress of ceremonies.
“It’s going to be a fun event but it’s also very powerful to see all of these young people in the room getting ready to embark on higher education and getting the support of the community,” Albiter says. “I want to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, teachers/mentors, board members and everybody who makes LUCES possible. This has truly been a community effort.”
The 2015 LUCES Scholarship Banquet will be held Friday, Aug. 21, 6 p.m. at the Concourse Hotel, 1 W. Dayton St. There are still tickets remaining for this Fifth annual Gala Event.
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