LAEF hits a milestone and continues to look ahead
One of the oldest Hispanic organization in Colorado is about to turn 70 and its Executive Director couldn’t be happier.
“It’s exciting to know that we have been around for all these years and decades helping thousands of students go on to get a better education and help improve our state,” said Jim Chavez, Executive Director of the Latin American Educational Foundation, which will celebrate its platinum anniversary.
Over seven decades LAEF has established itself as a leader in meeting higher educational needs of Hispanic students in Colorado, awarding nearly $7 million dollars through 7,000 scholarships in the process.
In celebration of those feats and its 70 years in existence LAEF will hold its annual gala on March 2nd at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver with a different feel from years past.
“Unlike past galas it’s definitely going to be more of a celebration event,” Chavez said. “We’ll be celebrating the legacy of this organization, so we’re going to have a little bit more fun and really celebrate some of those people and companies and partnerships and friends that we’ve had over the years.”
Though he wasn’t at liberty to disclose it, Chavez added that part of that celebration would include some special surprises.
“We’re just gonna try to have a little bit more fun and celebrate all the good years and good things that this community has done with LAEF,” he said.
Many organizations like LAEF have sprouted up during its 70 year run, but none have managed to match its tenure. As to why he thinks LAEF has managed to stand the test of time, Chavez said it is due, in part, to the organization’s perseverance.
“We’ve continued to prove and demonstrate to the community that we do good work,” he said. “We help young people get their college degrees and we show the community that the investment that people and companies have made in the past years has paid off by students going on to accomplish great things.”
Along with that Chavez added that LAEF has always been an organization of integrity and objectivity.
A major part of LAEF’s commitment is to the student body it serves and it does so in several ways from providing services that include college planning and transition to assistance with college enrollment and registration. They also help students navigate the tedious waters of financial aid while applying scholarship support, mentoring and career planning that looks beyond college.
“Our mission has never changed,” Chavez said. “Our mission has always been to provide access to higher education for Hispanics in the state. But, over the years we have increased the size of the scholarship to make the scholarship more meaningful and help meet the costs of their education.”
In fact in LAEF’s first year in 1949, the organization gave out seven scholarships that totaled $559. Now students who qualify can receive scholarships that reach as high as $3,000. Not only that, Chavez added, but those scholarships are renewable, which motivates LAEF scholarship recipients to not only get to college, but graduate to better career opportunities once they get there.
“We want to make sure that these students reach that finish line and get their degree,” he said. “We’ve got a fantastic graduation rate, which means that students are persisting year after year.”
As with any organization that is celebrating a milestone, there is still a future to look forward to and for Chavez and the rest of the LAEF staff and board of directors that future looks bright.
“We need to keep going into the future because we know the Hispanic population is growing and we have a lot of work to do in the state,” Chavez said. “We need to get many more young Hispanic students to college to get a degree. There will be a greater need in the coming 20 and 30 years for this organization to help students in this state.”
For more information on LAEF or to make a donation visit www.laef.org.