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Hispanic Scholarship Fund initiative 14 million new Hispanic college graduates by 2025

Partnership contributes to Generation 1st Degree, an HSF initiative with the goal of adding more than 14 million new Hispanic college graduates by 2025

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) and Olive Garden announced today its partnership through the first-ever “Cocinando un Futuro” scholarship program. Ten talented students have been selected as scholarship recipients due to their exemplary passion for culinary arts and academic achievement. Together, the HSF and Olive Garden collaboration empowers Generation 1st Degree, the national movement to raise the Hispanic degree attainment rate to 60 percent by ensuring that every Latino household has at least one college graduate.

“The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is committed to raising awareness among America’s Latino families about the importance of a college education and help them secure the resources they need to earn a college degree,” stated Frank Alvarez, HSF president and CEO. “With the help of Olive Garden through the ‘Cocinando un Futuro’ scholarship program, we are able to bring this commitment to life.”

The HSF and Olive Garden “Cocinando un Futuro” scholarship program provides scholarships, up to $2,500 per student, to undergraduate minority students who are enrolled full-time at a U.S. accredited college or university during the 2011-2012 academic year. The students were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants interested in culinary arts, who met specific criteria that included attaining a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, demonstrating personal strengths and leadership and have an unmet financial need requiring support in their efforts to obtain a college degree.

“Olive Garden is proud to partner with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and we’re honored to help award the ‘Cocinando un Futuro’ scholarships to a talented group of students that share our passion for food and hospitality,” said Julio Suarez, director of diversity outreach for Darden Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of Olive Garden. “One of Darden’s priorities as a community partner is to support access to postsecondary education as a way to empower and enable youth to pave their own path to success. The ‘Cocinando un Futuro’ program is a perfect way for us to bring this support to the Hispanic community.”

Selected Scholarship Recipients

The HSF and Olive Garden are supporting the educational and professional goals of ten talented students with a passion for culinary arts.

  • Michelle Alcantar, California State University-Sacramento, Culinary Arts and Interior Design
  • Santiago Hernandez, St. Philips College, Culinary Arts
  • Jose Martinez, Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration
  • Estefani Mata, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Business Administration and Culinary Arts
  • Brenda Mendoza Ortega, Johnson & Wales University-Denver, Culinary Arts and Biochemistry
  • Vennette Perez, Norwalk Community College, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration
  • Diego Recinos, Johnson & Wales University-Florida Campus, Culinary Arts
  • Paulina Sanchez, Arizona State University, Hospitality Administration and Foreign Languages/Culture
  • Natalie Shepherd, Sullivan University, Culinary Arts
  • Pablo Uruena, Texas Culinary Academy, Culinary Arts

For more information regarding “Cocinando un Futuro,” visit

About Hispanic Scholarship Fund:

Founded in 1975, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund believes that the country prospers when all Americans have access to the opportunities a college education can afford. As the nation’s leading Hispanic higher education fund, HSF works to address the barriers that keep many Latinos from earning a college degree. HSF has awarded over $330 million in scholarships over the past 36 years and has supported a broad range of outreach and education programs to help students and their families navigate collegiate life, from gaining admission and securing financial aid to finding employment after graduation. HSF envisions a future where every Latino household will have at least one college graduate, creating an enduring impact on the college outlook of Latino families nationwide, and strengthening the American economy for generations to come. For more information about the Hispanic Scholarship Fund please visit:


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