There is good news for Hispanic families on a budget searching for a way to pay for higher education costs: College bound Hispanics can benefit from increasing scholarship opportunities. This year, Hispanic students have a wealth of scholarship options. Just as frenzied students are selecting college programs or planning their return to school, many Hispanic organizations are announcing scholarship funding programs and guidelines for the school year beginning this fall.
Offering scholarships to minority and disadvantaged students has gained popularity. Corporate giants like CNN, Coors, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, MasterCard, NASCAR, Office Depot, Sallie Mae, Time Warner and Wachovia are among the companies providing scholarships to Hispanic students this year. Why are these do-gooders dedicating thousands of dollars to Latino scholarships and what can other companies learn from them?
While each one of these companies may have more than one reason to support existing Hispanic scholarship programs established by Latino organizations such as the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Hispanic College Fund and Hispanic Scholarship Fund, most benefit from the positive community and public relations results the programs generate.
Over the years, Latino consumers have become increasingly acculturated into mainstream America. Some have gained positions of influence in the public and private sectors and most have become more sophisticated consumers. Part of the process has resulted in the realization for some that they have been neglected and even mistreated by many companies that ever since the 2000 Census target them as consumers for their products and services.
At the same time, marketers and communicators have begun to wise up to the growth and potential of the Latino markets with many keeping their eye on of the future prize of the rapidly growing Hispanic buying power, estimated by The Multicultural Economy, 1990-2009, report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth to near $700 billion a year. Scholarship programs are a relatively inexpensive means of generating good will among future consumers of their products and services. At the same time, the recipients of the scholarships may also become members of their future workforce.
There are critics who argue that in some cases the scholarships are too few in relation to the total number of students in need. And that they are the direct result of criticism of exclusionary policies that have denied Latinos their fair share of the American pie. That may very well be true. And yet, more students than before are benefiting from scholarship programs. As they graduate and join America’s working hordes, they too will impact the future and perhaps generate additional programs.
The good news is that this results in opportunities for Hispanics students and benefits the donors in multiple ways. The impact is immediate as Latino communities and leaders become aware of the programs. There are also long term effects as the recipients go to school and eventually graduate with an appreciation toward the company that made it possible, in part, for them to complete their studies.
At the same time the Internet has made scholarship hunting much easier and possible for many students who a few years ago would have been limited to their school counselor’s advice and other local resources. The generation entering America’s colleges and universities has better access to online resources, including information on scholarships and who funds them, than any other before it. Smart companies are banking on the benefits by putting their money where their corporate mouths are and funding Latino scholarships. And equally smart Latino students are taking advantage of the increasing opportunities.