• Notes of gratitude

    When you donate to Scholars Latino Initiative, you are supporting SLI scholars directly through college scholarships, computer awards, and dual enrollment tuition assistance – in addition to helping to make possible SLI’s collaborations with university and high school faculty and students that provide mentorships and other valuable college access opportunities.

    SLI scholars are grateful for these opportunities! READ MORE THANKS

  • Meet Maria, SLI scholar

    SLI scholar Maria (Godwin High School ’22) is using her experiences and love of academics to help others in similar situations. An equity ambassador for her school, she also leads students in tutoring their English as a Second Language (ESL) classmates. READ THE INTERVIEW

  • Graduating SLI scholars name university picks

    PHOTO: Harrisonburg SLI’s graduating scholars are (from left) Savannah, Lisbet, Eliana, Leslie, Helen, Jennifer, Luisana, Jan, Noel, and Daniella.

    This year’s 22 graduating Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) scholars – 10 in Harrisonburg, five in Richmond, and seven in Winchester – have announced their higher education plans. They will attend:

    • University of Pittsburgh
    • University of Richmond
    • University of Virginia
    • Virginia Commonwealth University
    • Virginia Tech University
    • Virginia Union University
    • The College of William & Mary
    • James Madison University
    • Eastern Mennonite University
    • Bridgewater College
    • Blue Ridge Community College
    • Lord Fairfax Community College
    • Northern Virginia Community College

    “These scholars represent a positive future for our communities,” said Carlos Alemán, university professor and SLI program director in Harrisonburg. “We’re proud of them and look forward to hearing about their successes in college and beyond.”

    SLI supports Latinx high school students through college access program opportunities and access to dual enrollment tuition assistance, computer awards, and college scholarships, awarding $364,800 in direct student support to date.

    In addition to providing direct financial support, SLI collaborates with local university faculty and high school teachers to offer its scholars rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, and supportive mentorships, all of which help prepare students for college.

    “I am a first-generation student,” said Amy (Handley High School ’21) in a recent interview. “Lots of people think that it’s just like going to school and getting good grades, but sometimes it’s about building connections.” 

    Her SLI mentor “really helped me a lot,” Amy said. “I didn’t really know the whole application process and I didn’t know how early you should start, but she would keep texting me and reminding me.”

    READ AND WATCH AMY’S INTERVIEW

    With her new university experiences beginning in just weeks, Amy is looking forward to building new connections.

    “I hope I have a good first day, because I’m going to be meeting a lot of people, a lot of teachers, and trying to get my way around,” she said. “But I’m excited.”

    ADDITIONAL NEWS:

  • SLI scholar interview: Guadalupe ’24

    Richmond SLI scholar Guadalupe ’24 enjoys photography, baking, and school – and “will work hard” in SLI toward a professional career.

    What are some of your interests? 
    I enjoy listening to music, as well as working with photography (see above) during my leisure time. Occasionally I am found in the kitchen baking. I enjoy baking brownies as they are a joy to eat and the process is easy. I love attending all my classes, personally I enjoy English and Career and Technical Education classes.

    What would you like to share about your family? 
    I am the oldest daughter of three children. I live with both my father and mother as well as my siblings. My parents have always been supportive of my decisions and have helped me grow as a person full of respect, discipline, and humbleness. I have lived in Richmond ever since I was born.

    What are your college and career goals? 
    I aspire to attend college because I would like to be open to opportunities that can help me enter a professional career. Lawyers and business leaders have always been top interests for me.

    How did you learn about SLI, and why did you decide to join? SLI site coordinator Ms. Orellana introduced me to SLI. This program prepares you for college and how college works. I am thankful for the program, for Professor Kaufman and all the resources associated with SLI. I hope to learn a lot from this program and will work hard.

    >MEET MORE SLI SCHOLARS

  • Partnership with Sacred Heart Center Names Scholarship Recipient

    PHOTO: Elizabeth (second from right) is the recipient of the 2021 “For Your Success” college scholarship award sponsored by Canastas Chicken Restaurants, Sacred Heart Center (SHC), Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI), and an anonymous donor. With her are (from left) Elizabeth Solano, youth programs coordinator at SHC; Lyons Sanchezconcha, a member of the SLI Advisory Council; and Ever Guevara Rodriguez, Canastas owner.

    A 2021 graduate of Huguenot High School in Richmond is the recipient of the 2021 “For Your Success” college scholarship, sponsored by Canastas Chicken Restaurants, Sacred Heart Center, Scholars Latino Initiative, and an anonymous donor.

    Elizabeth was selected to receive the $1,000 award. She plans to study business at Virginia Commonwealth University and become a Realtor.

    “There should be no obstacles in life to prohibit you from doing what you really want to do,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “I want to be able to help people find their economical and comfortable home for their future family. In order for me to be able to help out I will have to study very hard and be focused in school.”

    Students in the Sacred Heart Center College & Career-Bound Program were eligible to apply for the scholarship, whose sponsors included:

    • Canastas Chicken Restaurants has locations in Glen Allen, Richmond, and Henrico, and boasts “the best Pollo a la Brasa you will ever try.” 
    • Sacred Heart Center (SHC) supports Latinos in Richmond through programs such as adult education, family literacy, citizenship classes, and more. 
    • Scholars Latino Initiative supports Latinx high school students through college access opportunities, with programs in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester.

    “Along with our partners, we are delighted to support our determined students,” said Elizabeth Solano, youth programs coordinator at SHC. “We look forward to Elizabeth’s success in college and beyond.”

  • Careers Panel Discussion highlights possibilities for SLI scholars

    Moderated by Karina Kline-Gabel, vice chair of the SLI board of directors and of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, this Scholars Latino Initiative presentation for SLI scholars and additional student groups in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester featured leaders sharing about their careers and professional experiences.

    Panelists included:
    *Maribel Castañeda, Director of Appointments and Director of Latino Outreach, Governor Ralph S. Northam
    *Kevin Gabel, Director of Construction Management, Lantz Construction
    *Silvia Garcia-Romero, Cultural Diversity Manager, Sentara RMH
    *Patty Gavilan, RN, CMI – Manager, Language Services Department, Bon Secours Mercy Health
    *Tanya Gonzalez, Executive Director, Sacred Heart Center
    *Charles A. Martorana, Valley Region President, Blue Ridge Bank

  • Meet SLI in Richmond (2021)

    Discover the Scholars Latino Initiative’s Richmond, Virginia, program through the experiences of its scholars, mentors, and founder in this virtual gathering’s highlights reel:

    The event was sponsored by Truist Financial and hosted by Lyons Sanchezconcha of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board and Amelia Castañeda of Richmond Public Schools.

  • Meet Rubi, SLI scholar

    Meet Rubi, who says that her SLI experiences were “life changing.” Currently employed by Gartner, Inc., Rubi is an alumna of SLI in North Carolina and of the University of Richmond, where SLI founder Peter Iver Kaufman now holds the University of Richmond’s George Matthews & Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies.

  • SLI Advisory Council

    SLI Announces Advisory Council

    A warm welcome to the members of the brand new SLI Advisory Council! This body, facilitated by SLI Board of Directors chair-elect Karina Kline-Gabel and member Larry Miller and Director of Development Christopher Clymer Kurtz, will advance the expansion of SLI’s network of supporters and advocates to promote SLI’s long-term fiscal sustainability and growth, for the benefit of SLI scholars.

    Inaugural council members are:

    • Kenia Brooks, Farm Placement Specialist, Virginia Employment Commission, Winchester
    • Amelia Castañeda (not pictured), Welcome Center and Family Advocacy Coordinator, Richmond Public Schools, Richmond
    • Isabel Castillo, Lead Organizer, Virginia Organizing, Harrisonburg
    • Diana Patterson, Owner, DSP Services, LLC, Winchester
    • Sal Romero, Jr., Director of Equity and Community Engagement, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Harrisonburg
    • Lyons Sanchezconcha, Virginia Latino Advisory Board; Educator, Richmond Public Schools; and College and Career Bound Program Facilitator, Sacred Heart Center, Richmond
  • Angela

    A Reflection of Gratitude: Angela

    Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) alumna Angela (Huguenot High School ‘19) is studying Arts in Media & Communications at Shenandoah University (’23). She shared about her SLI experiences in recent virtual Meet SLI events in 2020 and 2021 and in the following reflection:

    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. 

    At the beginning of my freshman year of high school I was concerned that people would look at me differently because I was new at my school, but my main concern was my future, as I thought I was unable to go to college due to the lack of money and my language barrier. 

    But 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. 

    That is something I did not get at home. Because my dad never had the opportunity to go to school and doesn’t know how to read, he was never able to help me fill out important documents for school. But he has been beyond supportive, and I would not be standing where I am right now if it was not for his sacrifice. 

    While I did not have academic guidance at home, I did have it through SLI, thanks to SLI mentors and Peter who took their time to fill out documents I had never even heard of before, like the FAFSA. [SLI founder and Richmond program director Peter Iver Kaufman is a professor at the University of Richmond, where he holds the George Matthews & Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies.]

    Peter taught me how to write 10-page essays and I am grateful for that because if I had not received the help I got from SLI, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to SLI, I have been able to be more confident about my writing, reading, and pronunciation. I’m also able to attend college and achieve my dreams of becoming a communicator and helping my family. SLI has opened doors to places where I never thought I would be.

    Thanks to SLI, I began my education at Shenandoah University in the fall of 2019. As a first-generation college student, the process to get into college was difficult to me at first, but thankfully my SLI mentor guided me throughout the application process and that opened more opportunities to me. 

    When I went to Shenandoah I knew I wanted to study Arts in Media & Communications. This year I took general ed classes as well as Media & Communication classes such as Understanding Media and Communications, Multimedia Journalism, Writing Women, and Role Play and Simulation. I am also taking a summer class (Business & Professional Communication) to keep moving forward with my studies. 

    At the moment I have earned 31 college credits. My plan is to keep going and graduate, to achieve my dreams.

    My priorities are school and to help my mom bi-weekly. I work a full-time job from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday. I try to provide my family in El Salvador with the things they need, as my mother and brother currently have an unstable well-being and I am the only person that can really help them. But as I do that, my priority is also school and being able to keep it going to have a successful future.

    I also have Spanish conversations for the students at Shenandoah who are currently learning the language. I do that as a work study position during the school year and over the summer, but my main purpose of being part of the Spanish conversations is to help students learn the language. 

    I am proud that one of my professors has recommended me to the Honors Program, and I am currently in the process of becoming part of it. 

    This past year I also had the honor of being elected as the student SLI coordinator for Shenandoah University and being a guide to the Handley High School students who are currently enrolled with SLI. As Elly, the most recent SLI coordinator and a great student and person, leaves Shenandoah, I am beyond grateful for this opportunity that has been given to me. This is something I can do to give back to the program that opened doors for my future.