2017 Ford Driving Dreams Grants Program Awardees

In 2017, eight LULAC Councils were selected to receive $20,000 each over two-years to implement a local dropout prevention program in partnership with an educational entity. In addition, two veteran LULAC Councils (grantees from 2015-2017) were selected to receive additional funding for the continuation of their exemplary programs for a third academic year.

Read the media release.

2017 Ford Driving Dreams Grantee Recipients


Council #2848 – Hollister, CA Council #2890 

Hollister, CA LULAC council #2890 has joined forces with Gavilan College to target students in the San Benito County in educating students reach their highest education potential. Their vision is to motivate and educate high school students in the Hollister community, to steer them to become outstanding strong leaders who pursue a higher education, and provide a support system. To fulfill this goal, they are implementing various workshops with community leaders that would concentrate on topics that affect them at a personal and academic level. In addition, college access activities will be presented to give students exposure and explain the critical steps it takes to successfully apply for a higher education which includes college entry workshops, visits to campuses, financial aid workshops, and providing mentor-ship. San Benito County and Hollister, CA have low rates of educational attainment when compared to the total percentage in the state of California and only 10% of Latinos in Hollister have obtained a Bachelor's degree or higher. The majority of students from the community are first generation students seeking a higher education. That is why their mission is to support students in their last years of high school and inspire them to do more, easing their transition into a collegiate life and offering a support system.

Council #2862 - Sacramento, CA (2015-2017 Grantee)

Sacramento Council #2862 and nonprofit Alianza to achieve positive learning experiences for Chicano/Latino high school students participating in the high school After School/Parent Resource Program. The aim is to accelerate achievement at the high school level and to prepare students to graduate from high school and achieve a college degree. Alianza is a Sacramento nonprofit that works to provide scholarship for "Dreamers" and to educate the community about immigration issues. The program will include weekly after school activities including: 1) mentoring, 2) tutoring (math and English writing), 3) increased self-esteem and improved communication skills, 4) college visits, 5) speaker series, 6) cultural activities, e.g., making of a mural, and 7) parent participation. An outreach plan will target 9- 12th grade students who may be “at-risk” due to truancy, low grades, health issues, and poverty. Academic support will also be provided. Tutors will help with homework and tutoring. Evaluation will also be a key component. Base-line data will be collected and evaluated on a quarterly basis with the assistance of an advisory committee. Finally, there will be a plan for continued sustainability.

District of Columbia

Council # 11126 - Washington, DC

LULAC Women's Empowerment Council has had a long history of volunteering with successful school based programs in the Washington, DC area. This year, they will be working with La Clinica's Mi Refugio program to serve as yearlong mentors for students and offer career exploration workshops to inspire students to improve school performance. Students will receive tutoring, navigation of financial aid process, emotional wellness workshops, leadership development, and parental support. These components will motivate students to achieve educational and professional success by exposing them to professionals with similar backgrounds to mentor our students. Exposing participants to Latino success stories including STEM careers will inspire them to also achieve academic success.


Council # 313 - Chicago, IL (2015-2017 Grantee)

LULAC Council #313 is partnering with ASPIRA Inc. of Illinois to achieve the mission to empower the Latino community through advocacy and education and leadership development of its youth. Council 313 has had a strong commitment to the Latino youth in the Chicago area and has been an active participant in the LULAC Scholarship program and has led efforts as a proponent of legislative initiatives in Illinois to reform educational funding in Illinois. ASPIRA leadership curriculum will implement a student centered, participatory project oriented model. This will include mentoring, intensive academic support and extracurricular activities with parent participation. This program's goal will support students to improve and maintain grades, avoid risk behaviors, and provide positive role models to help students flourish academically and move on to enter post-secondary education or training to lead to sustainable living wages.

Council # 5294 - Pilsen, IL

Pilsen, IL Since its establishment, LULAC Pilsen Council #5294 has been an active supporter of the local Youth Health Service Corps and its 5+1=20 campaign to close the 20 year life gap that exists in the city of Chicago. This program runs in the local community Chicago Public School, Benito Juarez Community academy which is the largest high school in the city of Chicago and has a primarily Latino student body of 94%. The Youth Health Service Corps places a special emphasis on career placement after high school and college. Our senior mentor will work to explore career options specifically in the medical field to our chosen 25 9th and 10th graders. With the Affordable Care Act, jobs in the medical field are predicted to increase by 25%. It is a field that has high job security and an array of specialties. The encouragement to take on jobs in this field is especially effective because of the wide array of types of jobs available. While many students wish to go to medical and nursing school, the Youth Health Service Corps specifically exposes them to all types of careers including x-ray technicians, radiologists, midwives, etc. This is a highly growing market and we want to make sure that the youth in our community have ample opportunity to choose these paths. The coordinators will also work to link young people to scholarships and preparation for important exams such as the ACT. They will meet with these select 25 students 2-3 hours per week each month and have sessions to seriously think about how they want to structure their futures in terms of college, career goals and educational aspirations. They will come up with action plans as to how they will structure their remaining years in high school and will outline their post high school goals and ambitions.


Council #13004 - Holland, MI

Council 13004 and Latin Americans United for Progress have pioneered their Adelante and Mas Adelante youth programs that have helped students develop life skills, problem solving and critical thinking skills, and communication skills. The Adelante STEAM/Ford Driving Dreams Program will expose students to a variety of careers with an emphasis on careers in STEAM fields. The program will also help students develop a sense of cultural pride, commitment to community service, life skills, and essential "college knowledge."


Council #20009 - Philadelphia, PA

The Ford Driving Dreams Grants Program will supplement activities provided by Council #20009 and LNESC – Philadelphia. Program recruits students from Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts to provide fundamental academic support to economically disadvantaged at-risk high school students and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree. The goal of the program is to decrease the high school dropout rate by increasing the rate at which participants complete secondary education, enroll in, and graduate from an appropriate post-secondary educational program. Additionally students will be exposed to STEAM activities and the arts that includes several local partners such as Coded by Kids, Taller Puertorriqueno, and Temple University. Council #20009 and LNESC – Philadelphia program activities include tutoring, counseling, mentoring, cultural enrichment, college/university tours, assistance with the college admissions and financial aid application processes, and financial and economic literacy. All LNESC –Philadelphia activities are designed to directly increase essential academic skills, and academic readiness of students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in post-secondary education.


Council #214 Houston, TX

LULAC Council #214 has partnered with HISD and Communities In Schools-Houston to recruit students of Sterling High School in the city's south side. The purpose is to reduce the dropout rate by providing academic support through tutoring and mentorship by college students enrolled at the University of St. Thomas. The approach taken by this program is that the students can connect with those who understand their cultural background and challenges. Sterling High School is attended by predominately first generation students who have limited resources as it pertains to extra tutoring, mentoring, and college tuition. Students and their parents will participate in community service projects with the goal of strengthening community partnerships and increasing the students' pride in their local community. Participating college students will meet with the selected students weekly, integrating STEAM subjects into the program's tutoring. The program delivers an experiential approach by utilizing topics, activities and guest speakers that promote Leadership skills, College Readiness, and Financial Literacy. College field trips will be held to inspire ambitions of earning a college degree.


Council #44017 – South Jordan, UT

With 10 hours of programming schedule, LULAC Council 44017 and Hispanic Community Connection will be working with Granite School District to provide students access to an ESL program. Students are assessed to determine their level of English proficiency and a plan is then created for the participant with individual goals and objectives. CCH will offer students training for basic English skills as well are computer literacy while sustaining a LULAC Youth Council through FDD participants. Monthly meetings will be set up to track participant’s progress. Students will also be mentored by a youth who is a graduate of CCH's program. With this program, CCH will promote higher graduation rates, help students feel confident with their English proficiency and encourage students to pursue a higher education.


Council #4614 - Richmond, VA

The investment through the Ford Driving Dreams Grant program enables the Richmond Region LULAC Council and its partners, the MathScience Innovation Center (MSiC), STEM-Law Leadership and Achievement Academy (TA), and the Richmond Peace Education Center (RPEC) to create and implement a Developing Inspired Youth (DIY) program at Huguenot High School in Richmond, VA. Twenty-five ninth grade Latino students will participate in a rigorous STEAM program which includes a focus on community issues through a social science lens, working with mentors to explore the legal and public policy issues therein, conflict-resolution and leadership training.

Our strategic plan includes parent education, engagement with Richmond Public School Board, direct interaction with middle and high school principals, teachers, and ESL counselors and policy makers. We also address higher education access through initiatives with the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University. 

After the two-year DIY grant cycle, students will be adept researchers on a topic of interest to them, create action plans for their communities and issues and hone their sense of agency when working with others.