Students at American University receive grants for community service
The top prize in the annual Eagle Endowment awards was given to the Latino Youth Conference in a ceremony last Friday.
The Eagle Endowment is an Office of Campus Life-sponsored award that gives a $1,000 grant to an organization from the AU community for public or community service.
Two other prizes were awarded to student groups. The Latino Youth Conference, represented by Marguerite Seldin-Jimenez and Althea Avice de Guzman, won a $1,000 grant. A grant of $700 went to the AU Community Service Coalition, represented by Stephen Bronskill. The Eagles for DC, represented by Toby Kearn, won a $300 grant.
Seldin-Jimenez, an AU graduate and representative of the Latino Youth Conference, said winning the award validated the organization’s community service work even more.
“Winning the Eagle Endowment has made [our work] all the more special,” Seldin-Jimenez said. “It is humbling on a campus where so many people are doing so much exceptional work to have the Latino Youth Conference get selected to join the family of previous award winners.”
The Latino Youth Conference won the endowment for serving the D.C.-Metro area and for providing a conference to explore higher education for native Spanish speakers, Sasha Bloch, coordinator of the Eagle Endowment for Public and Community Service, said.
The Latino Youth Conference is a free, all-day conference on leadership and education for Latino high school students, their families and high school guidance counselors. AU has held this conference since a group of AU students founded it in 1999. It continues to be a student-run organization, sponsored by the Latino and American Student Organization.
The AU Community Service Coalition took second place for uniting campus groups for community service and supporting worthy causes across the D.C.-Metro area.
The Eagles for DC earned a grant for coordinating groups of people in one-time service commitments.
The Latino Youth Conference is using the funds from the Eagle Endowment to create and print workbooks for all Latino Youth Conference participants including information in both Spanish and English about the college application process, financial aid and how to help parents become better advocates for their children.
“Several Latino Youth Conference parents, who spoke very little English and had come down from a day laborers’ center in Pennsylvania, told me that this [conference] was the first time they received this kind of information about how to help their children in school — in Spanish,” Seldin-Jimenez said. “It has been a really humbling experience to think we can begin to reach out to parents and help empower them to become better advocates in their children’s schools.”
The Eagle Endowment is a student-led initiative intended to provide funds to students who have helped the D.C. community through service and leadership, according to Bloch.
The Eagle Endowment currently has more than $100,000 to give away and provides grants of up to $1,000 to AU community service organizations.
Bloch said each of the groups was recognized individually by the Eagle Endowments for its achievement this year.
“The event on Friday was an absolute success!” Bloch said in an e-mail. “Although there were not a ton of people there, the energy in the room was high and contagious.”
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