Since 1949, the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF) has worked to provide access to higher education to Hispanic and Latino students in Colorado. LAEF helps students and their families navigate the college going process, with scholarship support and critical wrap around services. But for Hispanics and Latinos, succeeding in college is not just about the individual student. It is a family effort. Our students succeed when their families succeed. And the family succeeds when their student succeeds.
In the past 12 weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant health and economic hardships throughout our communities, and disproportionately impacted communities of color. This has been particularly damaging to LAEFĺs scholarship recipients and their families.
Since the pandemic started, nearly 500,000 people filed for unemployment in Colorado. More than 60 percent of our scholarship recipients lost their jobs and 50 percent of our scholarsĺ parents are now unemployed. This leaves many of our students and their families unable to provide for their basic living expenses, such as food, housing, and health care. This also makes returning to school next fall doubtful and puts at risk the ability for students to ultimately earn their college degree.
While businesses are starting to re-open, the recovery will be a difficult and long process. In response, we have established the LAEF COVID Emergency Fund to provide financial support to scholarship recipients and their families to meet their immediate basic needs. Our goal is to raise $100,000 to help meet these needs and provide additional scholarship support to ensure these talented students are able to complete their education. We have already raised nearly $50,000!
LAEF has already made 22 grants of $500 each to scholars and their families to help cover these needs. Marie Gomez who is a Junior at the Colorado State University at Pueblo majoring in Biology with a minor in Spanish. Marie wrote a very heart-warming message, ôThank you for reaching out to me during this difficult time. I was very stressed when I lost my job and was not able to pay my rent. With the help of LAEF, I was able to pay my monthly rent.ö
The COVID pandemic also caused our universities to take the drastic action of closing their campuses, sending all students home to limit exposure to and spread of the virus. The closure of campuses presented even more challenges as students were forced to transition to online learning. Many students, especially those from lower income families, did not have adequate computer equipment or internet access at home. These students relied on computers in their school library, or shared computers with friends, and relied on campus internet service.
LAEF identified four scholarship recipients who were not able to continue with their education because of this lack of technology. After learning of their needs, LAEF immediately provided these students with laptops to successfully finish the semester. One of those students is Jesus Dorado, a junior at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in Biology. His goal is to become a physician that serves Hispanics and under-served populations. Jesus wrote a note to LAEF to ôthank you all for giving me the support I need to finish up my school year with the laptop you all provided me. Amidst the uncertainty that lies ahead, I can be assured that I will not be struggling to complete assignments, study for the MCAT, and complete my medical school application. The laptop provided is beyond what I could have asked for and I am grateful to have this support system through you all. This has been extremely beneficial for me and I hope this support can continue for others in the future because it really does make a difference.ö
LAEF is deeply committed to increasing the college degree attainment level of Hispanics and Latinos in Colorado. You too can join this cause and help provide emergency funds to support the immediate needs of our scholars and their families. Please visit LAEF.org to learn more.