Eight of the country's top Latino high school graduates will receive college grants from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation during a prestigious national ceremony on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus.
The foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, will hold its annual National Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards Ceremony at Folsom Field on Thursday, June 21. In addition to the students, the foundation will honor an outstanding high school educator and two up-and-coming Hollywood stars.
Actor Wilmer Valderrama of Fox's "That '70s Show" and MTV's "Yo Momma" will receive an award for his positive and multidimensional portrayal of Latinos in Hollywood. Shelbie Bruce, the young actress who co-starred in the 2004 Adam Sandler romantic comedy "Spanglish," will be the master of ceremonies.
This year marks the first time the foundation has held the event on a college campus. From 1999 to 2001, the foundation held its regional youth awards ceremony in Denver, home to a large and growing Latino community with historical roots in Colorado and the Southwest.
Dale Trevino, director of the CU-Boulder Center for Multicultural Affairs, said the foundation's ceremony would enable the campus to position itself as a top draw for talented Latino scholars from across the country.
"It is a great honor that the HHF has selected our campus for its return to Colorado. Organizers could have held this event anywhere in the country," Trevino said. "They chose our campus based on the Denver area's vibrant ethnic diversity and the university's continued efforts to recruit talented Latino scholars."
Launched in 1998, the foundation's youth awards recognize Hispanic students who are role models in their schools and local communities in a dozen U.S. regions. Many of the students go on to study at some of the nation's most prestigious college campuses. This year, about 300 Latino students around the country will receive $650,000 in educational grants from the foundation.
Each year, foundation representatives and local committees select gold-, silver- and bronze-medallion regional grant recipients from a field of 13,000 applications based on academic achievement, community service, an essay contest and focus on a specific award category. Award categories include academic excellence, business, community service, education, engineering and mathematics, health care, journalism and sports.
Regional gold-medallion recipients compete against others in their categories for national distinction and an additional $5,000 grant they can use to buy a laptop computer and help pay for college tuition.
In addition to its youth awards program, the foundation annually recognizes the nation's most influential Latinos in business, politics, education, sports, arts and other realms during a separate ceremony in Washington, D.C. The event, now celebrating its 21st anniversary, began as a way to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
Past honorees include physician Pedro José Greer, Jr., actor Antonio Banderas, musician and singer José Feliciano, journalist Soledad O'Brien, novelist Sandra Benítez, baseball slugger Sammy Sosa, former Denver mayor Federico Peña and presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
To learn more about the CU-Boulder Center for Multicultural Affairs, go to www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/cuc/.
For more information about the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, visit www.hispanicheritage.org.
Editor's Note: The 2007 National Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards will be open to the media and invited guests, and will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Folsom Field's Byron White stadium club. Attached are bios and photos for Wilmer Valderrama and Shelbie Bruce.