There are still a couple of weeks to apply for scholarships from Latinos United for College Education Scholarships(LUCES), a nonprofit organization that works to ensure bright futures for young Latinos in Wisconsin by providing several merit– and need-based scholarships. The deadline is May 30.
“The process is similar to last year. Students need to download the application from our website and fill that out and fill out the seven questions,” LUCES founder and President Pedro Albiter tells Madison365. “The requirements also include two letters of recommendation from their counselors or teachers or somebody that knows them well.”
The LUCES Scholarship recognizes outstanding Latino high school students in their senior year, college students, or adult returning students that have completed their GED/HSED who have shown previous involvement in volunteer/leadership or community activities.
LUCES will determine which students will come in for an interview and the scholarships will be awarded after interviews are done. “We gave out seven scholarships last year. This year, we are hoping to give out between 8 and 10 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. “For the first five years we were working on the Club Mexiquense and working with the state government and they provided us with the scholarships … but that was only for kids from Mexico,” Albiter remembers.
In 2011, Albiter applied for federal nonprofit status and changed the name to Latinos United for College Education Scholarships, or LUCES. “We’re now open to every student throughout Latin America. We started out with one scholarship and built every year to where we are at now,” he says. “We have grown quite a bit, but we’re still a small group and we depend on the generosity of the community. We really rely on publicity from articles like this to get the word out and to help us find more supporters and donors.”
LUCES will be recognizing Latino students for their academic success and community service through scholarships at their 2016 LUCES Annual Gala Event Scholarship Banquet at the Concourse Hotel on July 15. Jesus Salas, a noted pioneer in the fight for civil rights, will be the keynote speaker. Salas participated in a series of landmark actions in the 1960s and together with Father Groppi, he helped organize the Welfare Rights March in downtown Milwaukee and was a leader in the landmark march from Milwaukee to the state Capitol building in Madison. Salas was part of a multiracial group of civil rights leaders who together protested segregated housing, pushed for greater worker protections and demanded greater access to education for people of color.
“He was one of the civil rights advocates who led the march from Wautoma to the state Capitol with Obreros Unidos (United Workers) for better working conditions for migrant farm workers,” Albiter says.
Salas has exhibited a profound commitment to the rights of migrant workers and has pushed for enforcement of laws that would protect them from exploitative conditions including low wages, unhealthy working conditions and poor housing.
“We were looking for somebody who was a match for what we do, and he was perfect,” Albiter says.
What they do is to provide an increased opportunity for Madison-area Latino students. There are so many intelligent and talented Latinos who are Wisconsin residents, Albiter says, that are unable to meet their dream of an education due to lack of financial resources or access to federal aid.
“I just love helping out Latino students and giving them the opportunity to continue their higher education and to graduate and to begin their American Dream,” Albiter says. “Whenever I see one of our LUCES scholars in the community, I feel very happy … I feel very proud.”
To learn more about LUCES scholarships, click here.