Wayne State University Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies receives $330,000 from the DTE Energy Foundation to support student scholarships

The Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) at Wayne State University has received a gift of $330,000 for scholarships to support students participating in its programs. The gift, which is the largest in the Center's history, establishes the DTE Energy Foundation/MiHC Endowed Scholarship in CLLAS and is part of the Foundation’s focus of supporting programs that provide hands-on, real-world education and job opportunities that prepare and motivate underserved youth and adults in Michigan.

The mission of CLLAS is to help provide underrepresented students with access to a university education. It fulfills this mission through activities such as recruitment, advising, learning communities, academic training, and career and graduate school preparedness.

Around 70 percent of CLLAS students are first-generation and a majority are Pell-eligible or come from households deemed as high-need by the Office of Student Financial Aid. Recipients will be able to use the scholarship for tuition or other expenses, such as room and board. 

“We are so grateful to the DTE Energy Foundation for this historic gift to our Center to support deserving students driven to succeed,” said Dr. Víctor Figueroa, acting director of CLLAS. “With these funds, our students can prioritize their path toward a college degree.”

The first DTE Energy Foundation/MiHC Scholarship funds were awarded in the fall 2020 academic term to Ana Estefania Sandoval and Mindi Ochoa. Ana (pictured right) is a first-year student at Wayne State University studying health science. She graduated from Western International High School in Detroit where she participated in the MiHC Scholars Program.

Mindi (pictured below) is a first-year student studying criminal justice. She graduated from Melvindale High School and joined the MiHC College Scholars Program in the fall. Both students completed the Summer Enrichment Program at CLLAS and are currently participating in its first-year learning community. 

“I am determined to earn my degree and make an impact in my community as a pediatrician or pediatric nurse,” said Ana Estefania Sandoval. “The scholarship from the DTE Energy Foundation and the academic support from MiHC and CLLAS have helped me to develop confidence and know that I can achieve great things."

The DTE Energy Foundation has a long history of supporting the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, including $200,000 to the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) to help incoming first-generation college students succeed in core classes and smoothly transition to college-level academics. SEP welcomed its 16th cohort of students this summer, modifying the program to an entirely virtual format.

Priority for this scholarship will go to students who are participating in the Michigan Hispanic Collaborative (MiHC), an organization that provides academic and career support programs to students in high school and beyond. MiHC’s strategic focus is improving Hispanic high school and college graduation rates in Detroit. JoAnn Chávez, senior vice president and chief legal officer for DTE Energy, serves on MiHC’s board of directors.

“The DTE Energy Foundation is helping to fill a great need in our community,” said Anita Martinez, executive director of MiHC. “We are excited to partner with CLLAS in our efforts to support students to and through college.”

CLLAS was established in 1971 as the Latino En Marcha Leadership Training Program (later, the Center for Chicano-Boricua Scholars Program). It was born from community activism and sponsored by Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED) and New Detroit, Inc.

More than 2,000 students have participated in CLLAS programs over 50 years, including many leaders and professionals in Detroit and the Southeast Michigan Community. CLLAS also offers university courses in Latino/a and Latin American studies and an academic minor.

The next round of DTE Energy Foundation/MiHC scholarships will be awarded in fall 2021. 

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