Grisel Claudio and Baltazar De Anda-Santana sing a duet at a previous Latino Education Council's annual Karaoke for Education Scholarships

“Three years ago, we were thinking: What can we do to raise funds like other organizations do? There were too many dinners and things like that. We wanted to do something different, something fun,” remembers Sal Carranza, president of the Latino Education Council of Dane County. “Personally, I’ve always been very interested in karaoke myself. So I thought that this could be something fun where people can come and we could start this own unique fundraiser that is much different from your traditional fundraisers.”

With that, karaoke and scholarships were brought together and the Latino Education Council’s annual Karaoke for Education Scholarships was born. At every Latinos United for College Education Scholarships (LUCES) annual banquet, the Latino Education Council sponsors a scholarships for a deserving Latino student through the funds that they raise on this very special night. The third annual Karaoke for Education Scholarships will be held tonight starting at 5 p.m. at Cuco’s Restaurant, 4426 E. Buckeye Rd. The restaurant will be the host of many singers – both good and bad – who will be helping the Latino Education Council raise money for these scholarships.

“This will be our third year – our third Karaoke for Education. It’s a fundraiser for scholarships. All the money goes for sponsoring a scholarship that we award through LUCES,” Carranza tells Madison365. “It’s a fun event with a lot of community people, prizes, and camaraderie.”

Members of the Latino Education Council’s executive team at a previous Karaoke for Education Scholarship fundraiser: (L-r) Baltzar De Anda-Santana, Sal Carranza, Ananda Mirilli, Clara Barbosa, Grisel Claudio, and Oscar Mireles.

The Latino Education Council’s mission is to create a better future for the Latino community by supporting their academic success and to provide appropriate and timely information and support for parents and teachers so that they can more effectively help students succeed. Three years ago, they hosted the first-ever Karaoke for Education at the Nomad Pub, which many Madisonians know as the former Cardinal Bar, and it was a very successful event. Since then, it has moved to Coco’s, who have their own separate area for karaoke.

“We start usually around 5 p.m. It says we go to 8[p.m.], but we usually go as late as we can,” Carranza says. “We usually go way, way later than that.”

The Latino Education Council will be giving away a variety of gifts at the event. But you have to sing to be entered in the drawing. Every karaoke song costs $5 – but keep in mind your donation goes straight to Latino scholars in need. “Every singer will get a ticket that goes into the raffle. The more times you sing, the more chances you have to win a prize,” Carranza says.

Like a true fundraiser, it costs $5 just to get in the door. “And we also have this thing where if somebody is not singing very well, somebody can pay for them to come down,” Carranza laughs. “So, it’s a fun event and everybody knows the money goes for our scholarships.”

(L-r) Lourdes Godinez, Rissel Sanderson and Marcus Miles get ready to sing at a Karaoke for Education Scholarships event.

What is the crowd like at this annual event?

“We have a mixture of everybody in the community. It’s really diverse. Obviously, our Latino community comes out in force,” Carranza says. “You never know who will show up.

“We have a lot of people who love karaoke but just as many people who love supporting young scholars,” he adds. “

Latino Education Council President Sal Carranza presents an award to Rocio Rivas at a LUCES Awards Banquet.

And what is Carranza’s go-to karaoke song?

“I have several, actually,” Carranza smiles. “My pièce de résistance is obviously ‘La Bamba’ because everybody knows it. Another one I sing is ‘El Rey’ – ‘The King.’ That’s a popular Mexican song. I also have a couple of songs in English that I like to sing.”

The money raised from the night goes 100 percent to scholarships. The Dane County Latino Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event and will provide the money that is needed for the deejay and for all the prizes in order to maximize the fundraiser for scholars.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Carranza says. “We’re hoping to see a big crowd.”

Latino Education Council of Dane County’s Karaoke for Education Scholarships will be held Thursday, 5-8 p.m. at Cuco’s Madison, 4426 Buckeye Rd.