National Puerto Rican Day Parade's scholarship program makes a difference for dozens of students

Joe Torres Image
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
How Puerto Rican Day Parade's scholarship program makes a difference
Joe Torres has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Organizers call it the country's largest demonstration of cultural pride but the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, now in its 67th year, is about much more than social identity, ethnic delicacies and hip-shaking music.

Education is a primary focus for the parade's board of directors.

The board highlights and uplifts the next generation of Puerto Rican leaders by awarding dozens of scholarships to high-achieving high school and college students of Puerto Rican descent.

Each winner also has a track record of volunteer work or community service like 18-year-old Alexis Contes who begins her sophomore year at Rutgers University in the fall.

"I had the honor of being on the leadership committee of ALFA, which is an association of Latino business students," Alexis Contes said. "And I got to be part of creating a space at Rutgers for Latino professionals."

The board awards 100 scholarships every year, each valued at $2,000. And since the start of the initiative in 2014, over $1.6 million in scholarships have been committed to students pursuing higher education.

"Every year I think we realize that the caliber of these students just keeps getting better and better and more impressive," added National Puerto Rican Day Parade board member Louis Maldonado. " And the diversity of study - going to top notch schools, just very impressive."

Fellow scholarship winner Austin Rios-Colón, who is attending Columbia University, told Eyewitness News the scholarship eases a financial burden for his family.

"It ends up feeling like a cultivation of all the hard work and perseverance that's been put in throughout the generations within our families," said Rios-Colon. "And it feels like we are getting paid back for all the hard work and adversity."

The parade takes place from 44th Street to 79th Street along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, in honor of the 3.5 million inhabitants of Puerto Rico and over 5 million people residing in the United States.

Channel 7 is the proud broadcast partner of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The broadcast kicks off on Sunday, June 9 at Noon on Channel 7 and streaming on abc7NY.

Our very own David Novarro will be hosting along with Joe Torres and Sunny Hostin with Sonia Rincon reporting along the parade route.

Watch Tiempo: Preparation underway for annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade


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