By Arnoldo Avalos, LCF Trustee
I am grateful for my teachers, little league baseball coaches, and for the after school tutors who spent those extra few minutes to help me with difficult math problems. I was one of seven siblings in a migrant worker family and many generous people took the time to invest in me. My parents sacrificed everything to ensure that I grew into a mature, responsible adult who would make them proud. I often reflect about all the precious time that people gave to help me develop into the person that I am today. These teachers, mentors, co-workers took a vested interest in my life and they changed me forever. It is now my time to pay it forward.
Just this month, my wife, Alma Ruth and I launched the Avalos Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private, family foundation with a mission to provide financial support for students who lack the resources to succeed. Education has been the greatest equalizer in our lives. My wife is an elementary school teacher who is passionate about giving kids the tools they need to succeed. I was born in Mexico, but the United States gave us many opportunities to create a better future for ourselves and our families. We want to ensure that young Latino students have the support that they need to do the same.
The Avalos Foundation will be funding 10 scholarships per year, with the potential for annual renewal to reach a goal of funding 40 students every year.
We chose to focus our work on the upper Sacramento Valley region because that is where I grew up. Unfortunately, this region of California has very high unemployment rates and a median income of $20,000, compared to the National poverty level of $23,000. The high dropout rates are simply unacceptable. For example, in Tehama County 67% of high school students dropped out in 2009, and only 15% of residents have a bachelor’s degree. We must do more to help our students believe in a better future.
Given the dire need in the upper Sacramento Counties and because I am a product of this region, The Avalos Foundation will provide college scholarships to community college and high school students from Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Colusa, Yuba, and Sutter Counties as well the City of Pleasanton who are accepted and attend one of the University of California campuses. The scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate high academic achievement, dedication to community service, and financial need.
You can like us on Facebook at http://avalosfoundation.org/Home_Page.html or visit our Foundation website at https://www.facebook.com/AvalosFoundation . You can also help us spread the word, to ensure that we are reaching the targeted scholars.
I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday season and I hope that you find the time to give back. There are many ways to pay it forward. You can volunteer at an after school program, donate your professional expertise by serving on a board, and you can also write a check to a cause that is close to your heart. I want to inspire a culture of giving for and by the Latino community. I know that if we come together, we can make a difference.