As chairman of the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development, one of the greatest inspirations I have is hearing from El Paso students about how hard they have worked to get into college and how they will use their college degrees to make a difference in our community and the world.

This spring, I had the great pleasure of congratulating some of our many talented high school graduates, who, with CREEED’s help, are heading off to higher education in pursuit of bold professional ambitions. I hope that more businesses, community organizations and individuals in our community will join us in tearing down financial barriers that might prevent our college-eligible students from obtaining a degree or credential.

CREEED is working with local education and community leaders to implement ambitious plans to increase educational attainment in our region. We know that there is no single fix, so we are focusing on multiple inputs: improving student attainment so all our students are prepared for college; increasing teacher and school leadership development opportunities; facilitating parental and community engagement with local school districts, and strengthening governance and school board oversight.

But none of these improvements will matter if college does not remain accessible and affordable to our graduating students.

Post-secondary education paves the path to professional opportunity and upward mobility. Yet it requires an up-front investment that can seem daunting for high-performing students who might be the first in their family to go to college, or who don’t otherwise have the financial means to cover tuition and expenses.

That is why CREEED was proud to support the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s scholarship program with a $10,000 gift that funded four scholarships. We were also delighted to honor our second recipient of the $2,500 Sylvia Hopp San Elizario High School Senior College Scholarship, a scholarship fund we created in honor of recently retired superintendent and longtime educator Sylvia Hopp.

Please join me in celebrating the achievements of the second Hopp Scholarship recipient, Maria Cano of San Elizario High School, and of chamber of commerce scholarship recipients Sergio Andres Baez of Jefferson High School, Alexandra Fernandez of Valle Verde High School, Mildred Muro of Del Valle High School, and Carmen Salas of Irvin High School.

And I want to acknowledge the dozens of young people who applied for these scholarships but were not selected. All of them have overcome challenges and have bright futures ahead of them.

Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough local scholarships in El Paso to support every worthy scholar. If you are an El Pasoan with the means to give back, consider investing in education through scholarship funds. These are the investments that will dramatically change the future of El Paso and set up the next generation of El Pasoans to succeed.

El Paso businessman and philanthropist Richard Castro is the owner of more than 20 McDonald’s restaurants and chairman of the nonprofit Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development, better known as CREEED.


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