From the beginning, HDF focused on a critical need that emanated directly from the community: developing a scholarship program to empower Hispanic students to attend and graduate from college. It was also considered important from the very beginning to make this a community-wide effort relying on other Latino nonprofits to assist with the review of applications and pooling of resources. Additionally, the scholarship effort stressed to all students the importance of giving back to the Latino community and of engaging as community leaders. In 1984, HDF awarded its first scholarships by giving $100 each to 100 students through a separately named Hispanic Scholarship Fund. The initial goal was to obtain enough funds to award $30,000 in scholarships annually. Subsequently, a merit and need-based method for reviewing applications was established to ensure the most deserving students received scholarships.
From 1984 to 2008, the Scholarship Program was administered by LULAC-LNESC. During this time, many knew the HDF Scholarship Program as the "Hispanic Scholarship Fund" or the "LULAC-LNESC Scholarship". The 20-plus years that the scholarship was administered by LULAC was critical to the growth of the Scholarship Program, and the LULAC counselors were key in engaging students and families on the importance of post-secondary education and completing scholarship applications.
The work that was done early on by these counselors in schools across the metro with a high concentration of Latino students is still work that we continue to do today. We know the importance of seeing potential HDF scholars one-on-one in their high schools as a way to inspire and engage students in reaching their post-secondary dreams.