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    F&M Bank SLI Scholar College Award to support financial sector career opportunities

    HARRISONBURG, VA – The college-access nonprofit Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) has partnered with F&M Bank to establish the F&M Bank SLI Scholar College Award for Latinx students pursuing business and entrepreneur-related studies and careers.

    Designed to empower SLI scholars to achieve financial sector careers and recognize their leadership in related service and activities, the $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to SLI scholars studying relevant fields in college. The partnership will also include opportunities for personal finance management programming, internships, and job shadowing.

    “Our company’s values are based on supporting our neighbors to build better communities where we all live, work, and play,” said Holly Thorne, F&M Bank senior vice president. “Scholarship programs are critical in the face of today’s changing higher-ed landscape, which is why F&M Bank supports SLI scholars who are undertaking academic programs that will empower them as they develop into our future community and civic leaders.”

    A 501c3 nonprofit, SLI creates college access opportunities through collaborations with public school teachers and local university faculty, staff, and student mentors. SLI also offers financial assistance to its scholars, since 2012 providing more than $466,000 in college scholarship awards, computer awards, and dual enrollment tuition assistance. SLI alumni have attended 21 colleges and universities.

    “Our partnership with F&M Bank will benefit SLI scholars even beyond the named college award,” said Stephania Cervantes, SLI managing director. “Personal finance management programming will also help them develop the tools to manage their economic trajectory and open doors to potential career paths and professional development opportunities.”

    F&M Bank is headquartered in the Shenandoah Valley, with a network spanning the I-81/64 corridors from Winchester to Waynesboro and beyond.  The only publicly traded organization based in Rockingham County, the Company’s core values of enthusiasm, flexibility, responsiveness, community, and fun drive its corporate philanthropy, volunteerism, and local decision-making. The bank supports clients with a robust digital banking suite, full-service branches, and essential services like mortgage loans, title services, wealth management, business banking, and agricultural lending. With philanthropic efforts totaling over $300,000 annually, and a team dedicated to volunteering, our responsibility is to provide a bright future right here.

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    Help SLI scholars maximize their potential!

    DONATE TODAY: vasli.org/donate

    “Whether it’s community college, a four-year university, or even just AP classes and dual enrollment while in high school, education has the power to change the world. By giving to SLI you can ensure that Latinx students have access to these opportunities and they can maximize their potential.” –Stephania Cervantes, SLI managing director

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    SLI alumna Dulce Alonso speaks at JMU

    SLI alumna Dulce Alonso (Harrisonburg High School ’15, George Mason University ’17) spoke to a crowded audience on the subject of civic engagement and citizenship at a university event hosted by JMU’s Center for Civic Engagement and JMU Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies. Dulce (bottom row, second from right) was made to feel at home by JMU students who are peer mentors for SLI’s high school scholars.

    Watch SLI Beginnings to hear Dulce talk about her SLI experiences.

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    SLI meets Dolores Huerta at Somos JMU Latinx Conference

    A SLI highlight from the inaugural Somos JMU Latinx Conference was meeting keynote speaker Dolores Huerta, celebrated Latina labor leader, activist, and community organizer and founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. (Thank you, Karina Kline-Gabel, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the JMU College of Arts and Letters, for the photo and for leading the conference!)

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    SLI grads name college picks

    Pictured: Harrisonburg High School’s 2022 SLI cohort

    HARRISONBURG, Va., June 15, 2022 – Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) scholars graduating from high school have named their university choices.

    Among the colleges and universities selected by the cohort of 18 students – six in Harrisonburg, eight in Richmond, and four in Winchester – are:

    • Bridgewater College
    • Eastern Mennonite University
    • J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
    • James Madison University
    • John Tyler Community College
    • Laurel Ridge Community College
    • Old Dominion University
    • University of Virginia
    • Virginia Union University

    Their anticipated fields of study include computer science, history, nursing, social work, pre-dentistry, and pre-veterinary sciences.

    “SLI produces new opportunities for Latinx students facing struggles during the college process,” said Janefer, a SLI scholar graduating from Harrisonburg High School. “SLI opens new doors by not only helping us pay our dual enrollment tuition to obtain college credits while in high school, but also by challenging us to serve the community without receiving anything back.”

    At a SLI graduation celebration in Richmond, scholars and their families were addressed by Rubi, a SLI alumna who now works for Gartner, Inc. 

    “SLI gave me and my parents hope, and reinforced my belief that if I was dedicated and determined to fight my way through, I could actually go to college,” she said. “I knew that graduating from college would help level the playing field for me as a Latina in the professional world, and I’m proud to say that thanks to my education and the invaluable support I’ve received throughout the years from the SLI family, I now have an amazing job in Washington, DC at the world’s leading IT research and business advisory firm.”

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    SLI scholars share joy and gratitude during the Great Community Give

    “What brings you joy?” Watch SLI scholars Guadalupe, Israel, Amy, Rosely, and Gabriela share in this video for the Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham’s Great Community Give:

    During the campaign 39 donors contributed $9,350 to SLI’s mission to support Latino/a/x high school students with college access through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, scholarships, and supportive mentorships. Thank you!

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    WHSV Community Spotlight: Scholars Latino Initiative

    By Chelsea Church/WHSV

    HARRISONBURG, VA – “For 10 years, the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) has been helping create opportunities for students at Harrisonburg High School. The organization has several locations in Virginia made up of a group of outstanding students looking to further their education after high school.” WATCH AND READ MORE

  • Janefer
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    A letter of gratitude from Janefer, SLI scholar

    Dear SLI Community of Support,

    As a SLI scholar, I want to express my gratitude to you for your support for Scholars Latino Initiative.

    Growing up, education was always the first thing. If I would arrive home with a grade below an A, my mother would always tell me, “You need to try harder in order to be able to qualify for scholarships and go to college.” Due to my mother’s hard work of raising me correctly, I was accepted to SLI my freshman year. 

    I am pushing myself to receive a degree in honor of my mother. She wanted everything in education but unfortunately she couldn’t afford it, so she crossed the border for me and my future and that has no price. 

    My college goals are to successfully receive my associate and high school degrees and then continue in a four-year university, attend dental school, and become a successful orthodontist. I will be successful for my mother and those hard working parents who crossed the border for their families. 

    Besides being beneficial to college, SLI has helped me become more outgoing and know what it’s like to help our community, especially those in need. Through community service, SLI scholars help elementary children, adults, homeless people and other people in need in many different ways. We can make a change as high school students. SLI has also helped me become more independent, go my own way, and make a fundraising activity to help us raise money for those who actually are in need. 

    SLI understands how difficult it is for Latino families to contribute to their children’s education, and produces new opportunities for Latinx students facing struggles during the college process. SLI opens new doors by not only helping us pay our dual enrollment tuition to obtain college credits while in high school, but also by challenging us to serve the community without receiving anything back. It is our choice to help, and we do it with much love and dedication. 

    Thank you.

    Harrisonburg High School ’22

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    Noche de Salsa ’21: Appreciations / Agradecimientos

    A celebration of college access opportunities for Scholars Latino Initiative scholars, COVID-conscious Noche de Salsa ’21 at Steven Toyota in Harrisonburg featured a Latin-flavor drive-thru dinner & margarita with park & watch live Salsa dancing and an online raffle. WATCH THE SLI APPRECIATIONS VIDEO.

    In the following video, learn about SLI directly from its scholars and read their notes of thanks, plus hear from SLI Board Chair Jason Good and recognize Noche de Salsa’s generous sponsors. *La presentación en español de Jason Good, el presidente de la junta directiva de SLI, está abajo.

    Thank you!

    A message from Jason Good, Chair of the SLI Board of Directors:

    On behalf of the board of the Scholars Latino Initiative, thank you for your support. Thank you, thank you. By partnering with SLI, you undoubtedly directly made a positive impact in our communities. Since our founding in the Shenandoah Valley in 2012, our SLI family of supporters has consistently grown through new donors and increasing generosity, driving our work to support Latino/x high school students with college access through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, scholarships, and supportive mentorships.

    In just the last five years, you have tripled your donations. Tripled. As a volunteer board and a community based non-profit organization, this immense generosity makes our work possible. These donations have a direct impact on the scholars. In 2021, our annual budget now has over $100,000 allotted for direct scholar financial support through scholarships, computer awards, and dual enrollment support. The family of SLI scholars now has grown to 118 current scholars and alumni who have attended more than 20 colleges and universities.

    We are not an organization that only provides financial support. SLI is built on providing comprehensive support and partnership with students through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, and supportive mentorships. Our programming directors, including university faculty and high school teachers, are truly training the leaders of tomorrow.

    We are humbled and honored by the stories of incredible scholars. Alex, arriving in the US as a freshman in high school from El Salvador without speaking English, joined SLI as a sophomore at Harrisonburg High School and by the end of his junior year had a 4.1 GPA, was taking multiple AP, dual enrollment, and honors courses, and is planning on studying computer science in college.

    Ángela, a first generation SLI college student, shared “Scholars Latino Initiative has changed my life tremendously and has provided me with help in many ways, giving me guidance and helping me financially and emotionally… When I had the opportunity to join SLI, I saw doors open my way. I was able to meet more people like me who wanted to achieve their dreams. I was able to connect with important people who would academically guide me to choose the right path for my future.”

    Thank you for joining us on this day and for your incredible generosity. We are honored to work in the Harrisonburg community and partner with incredible organizations, companies, schools, and community members like you.


    Un mensaje de Jason Good, el presidente de la junta directiva de SLI:

    De parte de la junta directiva de Scholars Latino Initiative, gracias por su apoyo. ¡Gracias, gracias! Al colaborar con SLI, sin duda, han tenido un impacto positivo en nuestras comunidades. Desde nuestro establecimiento en el valle en 2012, nuestra familia de partidarios ha crecida con donantes nuevos y generosidad cada vez mayor, haciéndolo posible realizar nuestro trabajo apoyando estudiantes Latinos y Latinx con crear oportunidades de estudiar una carrera universitaria desde nuestros programas de preparación académica, desarrollo de liderazgo, becas, y mentores y amistades que ofrecen un apoyo social y la fortaleza para enfrentarse a las dificultades que acompañan acceder al sistema educativo.

    En solo los últimos cinco años, han triplicado las donaciones. Triplicado. Como una junta directiva voluntaria y una organización comunitaria sin ánimo de lucro, esta generosidad inmensa resulta en que nuestro trabajo sea posible. Estas donaciones tienen un impacto directo con los estudiantes. En 2021, nuestro presupuesto ahora tiene más de cien mil dólares asignados para apoyo financiero estudiantil directo a través de becas para la matrícula universitaria, becas para computadoras y becas para los cursos dual-enrollment. La familia de scholars de SLI ha crecido a 118 estudiantes actuales y ex alumnos quienes han asistido a más de 20 universidades.

    No somos una organización que solo ofrece apoyo financiero. SLI fue establecido con la filosofía de proveer apoyo comprensivo que incluye preparación académica, desarrollo de liderazgo, y mentores y amistades de apoyo. Nuestros directores de programas, incluyendo profesores universitarios y maestros de las escuelas, verdaderamente están preparando los líderes del futuro.

    Las historias y testimonios de los estudiantes nos dan honor y humildad. Alex, llegando a los Estados Unidos en noveno grado de El Salvador sin hablar inglés, empezó con SLI en su segundo año de Harrisonburg High School y a terminar su tercer año tenía un GPA de 4.1, estaba tomando varias clases de AP, dual enrollment y honores, y está planeando estudiar ciencias de computación en la universidad.

    Ángela, una alumna de SLI de primera generación universitaria comentó que SLI ha cambiado su vida de una manera tremendo y la ha ayudado de varias maneras, dándole apoyo y ayudándola emocionalmente y financieramente. Cuando tenía la oportunidad de empezar con SLI, vio puertas abrir y tenía la oportunidad de conocer a otros como ella quienes querían realizar sus sueños. Podía conectar con personas importantes quienes la ayudaron a escoger el camino correcto para su futuro.

    Gracias por estar con nosotros en este día y por su generosidad increíble. Tenemos el honor de trabajar en la comunidad de Harrisonburg y colaborar con organizaciones, compañías, escuelas y miembros de la comunidad increíbles como ustedes.

    Jason Good, Chair
    SLI Junta Directiva

    And Thank you! to the local businesses and organizations that donated raffle prizes:

    Raffle winners have been notified by email.

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