The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) will hold a radiothon fundraising drive this Saturday, November 21 on three major Twin Cities Spanish language stations to raise money for the LEDC scholarship fund. Collection boxes will also be located at key participating Latino businesses around the Twin Cities.
For the past ten years, LEDC members have been helping promising students in the Twin Cities Latino community afford higher education through their scholarship program. Since the inception of the scholarship program in the early 1990s, the LEDC has awarded more than $70,000 to more than 20 Latino students. In the past, the organization has relied primarily on the generosity of its members to quietly generate scholarship funds, but this year the LEDC is looking to individual members of the Latino community to supplement the fundraising efforts in what it hopes will be an annual radio event.
The LEDC is coordinating the radiothon event in order to swell its currently temporary scholarship endowment with the Saint Paul Foundation. As of December 31, 2009, the Saint Paul Foundation will create a permanent LEDC endowment from which the organization can draw interest for future scholarships. According to LEDC President, Ramón León, the organization was hit hard by the recession, leaving them slightly short of their $100,000 goal. Membership contributions for the scholarship endowment only total around $80,000 thus far, so León is looking to the public to make up the difference.
León founded the LEDC in 1994 to help Latinos succeed in business in the United States. León says he encountered many immigrants who had been successful business owners in their home countries, but were facing significant barriers to success in the U.S., including language and access to loan money. The LEDC now operates the Mercado Central co-operative in Minneapolis and offers training for Latino adults in financial skill development, green business tactics, customer service and more.
It wasn’t long after the LEDC’s inception that León and other LEDC members realized they must spread the skill development to their youth. If “our children aren’t being properly educated … then they can’t take advantage of higher education,” says León. The highly competitive LEDC scholarships are currently allocated by an evaluation committee and the number of scholarships awarded annually depends on the amount of money the LEDC raises each year. With the help of the scholarship endowment, Leon hopes to someday expand their scholarship awards to underprivileged youth outside the Latino community.
The radiothon will be broadcast on La Invasora at 1400 AM, La Mera Buena at 107.5 FM and La Picosa at 1530 AM from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 21. Participating businesses with collection boxes include: Supermercado Bymore (St. Paul), Cafeteria La Loma at Mercado Central (Midtown), Los Ocampo at Lake Plaza (Lake Street), A la Salsa restaurant (Midtown inside Global Market), and La Invasora studios at Plaza Verde (Lake Street). For more information visit the LEDC website.