Building A Legacy: Area Foundation’s Scholarships Program Reaches New Heights

By Hernán Rozemberg

LAREDO — It was such big news that the San Antonio Area Foundation took to the road to spread the word far and wide.

Last fall, the Area Foundation ushered a public outreach campaign to make sure eligible high school students didn’t miss out on the opportunity to apply for the new Legacy Scholarship Fund.

The new scholarship was created through an unprecedented anonymous donation to the Area Foundation. In 2022, the first year it’s being offered, 50 high school juniors from Bexar and Webb Counties will be awarded $40,000 over the course of their four-year college careers to help pay for their studies ($2 million annually in total).

It’s believed to be one of the largest scholarships not just locally or regionally, but across Texas and even nationally.

Bernice Uresti, who heads up the Area Foundation’s scholarships program, noted that she made the decision to go to Laredo because, as per the donor’s wishes, it was important that students in this border hub became aware of this tremendous new scholarship.

“It’s very important for us to inform Webb County students that this opportunity is available to them,” she said. “We want to make sure that they are represented.”

Uresti coordinated a key meeting with officials with school officials in Laredo to inform them of the Legacy Scholarship Fund and so in turn they could inform their students so they could apply.

The Area Foundation’s Marketing and Communications Department joined Uresti in the effort, helping with event coordination as well as outreach, in the process obtaining very positive coverage from media in Laredo.

This border community embraced the news with open arms, unable to hide excitement regarding the boost this new opportunity can bring to local low-income students who, without help, may not be able to seek higher education due to financial concerns.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our kids to further their education and become our future leaders,” shared Christine “Tina” Cerda, President of the Laredo Area Community Foundation, which has a fledgling scholarships program of its own.

Likewise, Laredo-area educators could not be any more optimistic after learning about the Legacy Scholarship Fund through Uresti’s presentation to school administrators, teachers and guidance counselors.

“This is amazing,” offered Rosita Martinez, Director of Guidance and Counseling at Laredo Independent School District. “The San Antonio Area Foundation is investing in the future of our children, it’s just outstanding.”

Over at the district’s Raymond & Tirza Martin High School, the flagship local school which houses approximately 2,000 students, news about the Legacy Scholarship Fund brought about huge smiles.

“We really welcome this,” said Principal Mario Mireles. “It’ll really benefit our students who are always trying to find the means financially to get to college – this scholarship will help alleviate many of their worries.”

Juniors Karla Rodriguez and Anthony Lara didn’t hesitate for a second – they’re applying.

“I can only do the best I can with the money my family has so this scholarship would be such help with books, housing and tuition,” Rodriguez said.

“Sounds pretty amazing,” Lara chimed in. “It would help me pay off student debt. I’m going to talk to all my friends about this and get them to apply as well.”

Though it was a quick field trip, Uresti said it was really worth the effort and time to meet local educational leaders and get their feedback.

“It was wonderful to come down here,” she said. “It was very informative for me to learn from our Laredo colleagues.”

She’s already planning a return trip in the near future to celebrate the students from Laredo and Webb County chosen to receive a Legacy Scholarship award. The list of recipients is expected to be unveiled in March.

Meantime, Uresti and the Area Foundation’s scholarships team would like to remind students that many other scholarship opportunities are available and currently accepting applications.

In fact, deadlines are coming up soon. 

For example, the Internal Universal Application, which includes 25 different scholarship funds, is open until Feb. 15. The San Antonio Area Foundation Common Scholarship Application, which houses 57 funds, is open until Feb. 28.

For more information on the Area Foundation’s scholarships program and application deadlines and online forms, click here.

Hernán Rozemberg is the Director of Communications and Storytelling at the San Antonio Area Foundation.